Sometimes, it can feel like I'm being completely bombarded with the idea of finding "The One." As if there is only one person on the planet out of 7,714,576,923 people could be destined just for me, through life changes, career shifts, and moves to different cities,. And if I don't find them in the most amazing meet-cute, or if I do find them but inventively get in a silly argument one day, then I totally blew it. Forever. With all of this pressure, it's difficult to know the biggest problem with looking for "The One." Can you love many people throughout your life? Is it possible to be compatible with a couple different people? Can you be with the person you're meant to be with and still have relationship problems? (Spoiler: Yes. To all three.)
Life works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, you get back together with an ex who you swore you'd never speak to again, other times you fall in love with two people, and once in a while you meet an amazing person and have a healthy and happy relationship with them — that still faces conflict. According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, the biggest problem with holding on to the idea of "The One" is potentially fixating on having an ideal relationship, rather than discovering what types of love and relationships actually work for you. "Even the best of relationships will never be perfect — nor do they need to be for both to be happy together," Dr. Brown says. "Focusing on 'The One' will very likely take people away from the work that needs to happen in any relationship."
Though your boo may be totally made for you, Dr. Brown shares the importance of remembering that literally nobody is perfect. "If you believe that you have chosen the perfect mate, then you are setting both of you up for disappointment because nobody could ever match up with such unrealistic expectations," Dr. Brown says. "Hyper-focusing on 'The One' — the perfect and only 'one,' will very likely torpedo your ability to enjoy organic connections from happening." According to Dr. Brown, the idea of "The One" can inspire lovers to create a sort of check-list in their head of what their relationships should look like, rather than enjoying the relationship as it happens naturally. "One of the very biggest problems that occurs when people are fixated on finding 'The One' is that they become so focused on either finding the 'perfect mate', and that they cannot fully enjoy dating in real time because they put too much emphasis on whether or not their date is 'the one'," Dr. Brown says. While having standards and setting intentions for dating can be important, setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or the people you date can put some unwanted pressure on your love, that can keep it from unfolding in its own special way.
If you're looking for a long-term partner or you've already found the love of your life and you're feeling a little stressed by the idea of "The One" Dr. Brown shares using what he calls the "80% Rule" as a way to check in with your compatibility. "Instead of focusing on an over-idealized search for the perfect 'One,' if you are getting at least 80% of your most important needs met, then you may be with someone who is a good match." If you value work or family, a good match for you may be someone who can totally support your goals or who loves to see their cousins. And if you can be on the same page with your boo about the important stuff, it can be easier to handle conflict when it naturally arises.
Of course, if you've found your perfect person and they're totally the one for you, there's nothing wrong with being totally in love and completely sure that you've met your life partner. Still, understanding that neither you nor your perfect match are literally perfect people can make room for the human mistakes that everyone makes. And if you're out there looking for love, knowing that there are so many amazing people that would be lucky to be with you can take the pressure off of trying make your own love story look like what you think it's supposed to look like. Whether you've found someone for you, or the right person is still out there — there's no one way to love, and that's something that goes for everyone.