I was completely obsessed with her.
Not sexually, but in the way where I wanted to be her. I was 19 years old, and she was my impossibly cool 25-year-old friend: a chic, European, acid-bleach blonde who chain-smoked cigarettes and had tiny tattoos.
She used to take me out to this little Italian bistro on in Los Angeles, and we would drink and smoke, and I would listen dutifully to her as she bestowed me with her 25-year-old wisdom.
One early evening, we were talking about her new boyfriend, when she paused dramatically, blew a graceful cloud of smoke out of her red lips and whispered, "He might be 'the one.'"
"How do you know when you've met the one?" I held her gaze. I wanted to know.
She smiled at me. "When you know, Zara, you just know."
A few months later, they broke up. She told me over the phone at 2 am that she wasn't even sad. Nothing bad had happened; her feelings had just changed.
"Wasn't he the one?" I asked.
Two months ago, this guy was her soulmate — all she could gush about — and now, she was talking about him with the same frivolity as yesterday's weather forecast.
There was a long, loaded silence on the other end of the phone. "He was the one... for a few months."
That was the moment it clicked for me that there is no such thing as "the one." There is only "the one for now."
There is no such thing as 'the one.' There is only 'the one for now.'
I know I sound wildly unromantic, bitter and sad, but I can assure you, I'm none of those things. I'm actually very positive about love ever since I stopped worrying about finding the one. My life actually got so much better. And yours will, too.
Let me explain why.
My friend Maya* met a woman three years ago whom she thought she was going to be with for the rest of her life.
They got married after a year. Everything about their lifestyle was cohesive. She was an actress, and her wife was a successful movie producer. They endlessly supported each other's careers, had amazing sex and both wanted to adopt children.
It was so nauseatingly perfect. They were living the American dream in the perfect loft apartment with a white picket fence.
But Maya fell out of love with her wife three months into their marriage. She told me this with tears streaming down her face, as I watched her drink an entire bottle of wine in one hour at my apartment.
"Why don't you just break up?" At this point, she had just told me she couldn't even kiss her wife without gagging, and the idea of having sex repulsed her.
When you stay with someone you don't love, you begin to resent them.
Maya looked at the floor and defeatedly murmured, "Because she was supposed to be the one." She pressed her shoe into the carpet and let out a small scream.
Maya was screaming because she was ruining her life by holding on the idea of the one. She was going to spend the rest of her life with a woman she was no longer in love with because she was caught in the stubborn trap of "forever love."
She would probably ruin her poor wife's life as well because, when you stay with someone you don't love, you begin to resent them.
If she had just accepted that her wife had been the one for a while, but that love is fluid and people change, she could've moved on with her life. But instead, she'll stay stuck in a sexless, unhappy, loveless relationship.
I have another friend who is so busy searching for the one, she doesn't even hang out with her friends anymore. She can't go on dates with guys she finds interesting and simply enjoy the experience.
If she doesn't immediately see a future with them, she thinks it's a waste of her time.
But if she just lived her life and stopped looking and worrying, she would be free to enjoy her life moment-to-moment. She would probably meet someone organically. She would be able to date all kinds of people and open up her world.
But because she's caught up in the idea of the one, she's totally trapped.
When you take the pressure of finding the one off your shoulders, you're able to roam free. You're free to take risks because you're not worried of missing the opportunity of meeting the one.
When you take the pressure of finding the one off your shoulders, you're free to roam free.
I spent my 20s traveling the world and seeing new things because I no longer gave two fucks about finding the one. I let myself have wild, toxic relationships because I wasn't worried about who I would end up with forever.
I did whatever felt right in the moment, and it lead me exactly to where I am now at 30: totally independent, living out my dreams in New York.
I wouldn't trade any of my failed relationships for the one because each failed relationship taught me so much about the most important person in my life — myself.
So rather than search for the one, get down and dirty with yourself. The girl inside of you is going to follow you through every relationship.
Once you stop trying to find the one, you're able to take awesome risks in your love life.
Plus, I know if I meet someone tomorrow who is textbook perfect, and I say I want to marry her instantly, that's fine. That's amazing. But I will never put forever pressure on anyone.
Even if your relationship does last forever, your feelings will be fluid. Some months, your love will be soaring high in the sky, and others, it'll be down.
No relationship is perfect. But your relationship with yourself can be totally solid the entire time —gorgeously independent from another person.
And when your happiness comes from inside of you and not from outside of you (like another person), you'll always be OK.
So stop worrying about finding the one, know you'll be OK no matter what and start LIVING, baby.