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Why Always Looking For 'The One' Means We'll Never Find Our Match

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I want to be a romantic at heart.

One of my all-time favorite movies is "Love Actually." Those of you who have seen the film will recall the romantic scene where young Sam (Thomas Sangster) holds up his index finger to indicate to his father (Liam Neeson) that Joanna (Olivia Olson) is his one.

The older I become, the more frequently I question the idea of "the one." I would like to believe that there is someone out there for everyone, but my pragmatic self makes me skeptical.

I tend to believe that there is more than one person out there for each of us. It is my contention that whether it is a romantic relationship or a friendship, we often do not obtain everything we want or need from one person ­-- maybe this is okay for some of us.

Or do we continue searching in hopes of finding our one soul mate as seen in television, movies, novels and even sometimes real life?

Psychological research suggests that we often idealize our partner, viewing him or her through rose-colored glasses. Essentially, if motivated enough, we can convince ourselves that he or she is our one.

Can we be too motivated to find the one? Can this be risky in the long term? Are we viewing our partner as ideal and ignoring the red flags or early warning signs that warrant attention?

I propose this is more about the right timing than finding the right one, and there are many influencing variables to consider.

For example, are you the type of person who believes you need to date or have sex with a certain number of people before settling down? Is your goal to achieve a certain professional status before you commit to a partner? Are you still learning what you want, deserve and need from a significant other?

Do you want to travel the world before settling down? Do you feel the need to be a specific age before settling down? Who you are when you decide you are ready to commit will undoubtedly influence your partner choice.

My theory about perfect timing is also applicable when one chooses a college, accepts a job or even chooses a location to take up residence. Think about it for a minute: When you were choosing a college to attend, a job offer to possibly accept or where to live, would your choices be the same now as they were then? Perhaps for some, the answer would easily be “yes, I would do the same,” while for others, the choices would vary.

Relationship research, online dating questionnaires and even career perspective inventories ask us to make global assessments as to who we are and what we want. However, if you were to ask me what I sought in a partner or what I wanted from a relationship a year ago, it would differ from what I want now.

For better or worse, our life experiences and past relationships change and shape us. Therefore, for me it seems unrealistic to think about one soul mate across a lifespan.

However, the hopeful romantic in me finds comfort in believing that there is someone out there for everyone and fate will bring you together. Some people will say that love chooses us; others will say that we were put together for a reason, and still, others will argue it’s just blind luck.

Admittedly, I am also a worrier, a pros and cons weigher, and a wonderer. At times, too much thinking can cloud our judgment. I envy those who knew from an early age what they wanted to be when they grew up, and those who knew who they were going to marry from the onset.

Maybe some of us are retrospective soul mate recognizers and cannot deem a partner a soul mate until years into a relationship or marriage. Maybe, there is no simple answer. Maybe, it’s simply how we wish to define the one.

Perhaps, it is a culmination of our experiences and growth with that person that makes him or her our one. Perhaps some of us need to date, looking for our one for that time, not our one for a lifetime. The caveat being that we need to remember to be open to the fact that right now, a mate could ultimately become a lifelong soul mate.

Perhaps too, because of the unpredictability of life, my original premise that there may be more than one soul mate out there for everyone is realistic. But what does this single girl know?

Regardless of your stance on soul mates, I think we can all agree that a bit of blind luck is necessary as we pursue our own unique happily-ever-after ending.

Photo via We Heart It