culture , humor , lists , psychology , relationships
Finding Prince CharmingTuesday, September 18, 2012
I decided to write this post, mostly, because people are silly. It doesn't take a week-long marathon of Disney films and trashy romance novels to let you know the kind of obsessive emphasis we put on finding "THE ONE". The concept is so deeply woven into the fabric of how we socialize and view romance, that it truly has no boundaries. In the short span of my conscious lifetime (I don't recall much before the age of 5) I've watched humans engage ax murderers, vampires, and even have sex with space aliens while occupying a biological vessel via computer integration (Avatar). It's all pretty nutty really. But few can deny the serious appeal of it all; it just feels better to believe that somewhere, someone is our perfect match, and that once we find that person, everything will be fine. This is the real meat of it all, too, the real reward of having found someone we consider to be the most important person in our lives: once we find them, the wanting stops, the search is over, emptiness ends and our happiness can finally begin. It's finding some relationship in which we feel truly accepted and understood that drive us—an ultimate belonging, a safe haven from the cynical glare of judgement too often casted upon us by the outside world. It sounds a bit dramatic, but it's all true. Watch or read any romantic plot and you'll find that, before the love affair begins, the characters (usually the woman) are struggling with a lack of acceptance or oppression from others. Look at Sleeping Beauty and Snow White: one chick is asleep forever until some white dude storms the tower and kills the witch; and the other chick runs away and eats poison apples, for which, apparently, the only cure is a kiss from some who's probably never seen a pair of breasts in his entire life. It's all silliness. But people f*cking love that shit.
Anyway, so, "THE ONE". It doesn't really matter who you talk to; Everyone, in some form or another, understands and invests a modest amount of faith in the idea that there is one perfect lover out there for them. The task then becomes: How do I find this person? Now, the best way to tackle this concept is to understand the foundational context upon which it stands. That being said, let me first address this fantasy of "THE ONE".
First off, it's important to note (and perhaps more accurate) that this idea doesn't necessarily mean that we believe that everyone else is shit compared to this one person. It simply means that we tend to believe that there is one person that is the BEST match for us overall—a frame of mind that still upholds the ideology of "THE ONE". But why do we insist that there is only one person that can possess the unique set of physical and personality features that fit us exactly? If you think about it, the answer is pretty simple. This concept is really a reflection of our own egos. We tend to think of ourselves as truly unique individuals amongst everyone else in the world. In fact, in western culture especially, this is a doctrine which is burned into our psyche from day one: everyone is unique; everyone is special; no two people are alike. So, because we believe ourselves to possess a unique combination of physical and personality features, we expect that our true love be held to the same standard. Therefore, now, our true love becomes a reflection of ourselves: My one and only true love is a truly unique person, just like me.
Let me save you the anxiety of suspense here and just lay it on you: you're not THAT unique. Indeed, there are people out there just like you, some with slightly better combinations, somewhat worse combinations, or better still, the same mixture with a different presentation. But, in our human experience, the variations are so minuscule and our scope of insight so limited, you really wouldn't notice. To better illustrate what I mean, consider the following scenario.
Suppose that you met and fell in love with Man A and that, suddenly, one day he decided he wanted out of the relationship so he could have an affair with some big breasted bimbo he met on the internet. He's kind of a classy guy, so he doesn't want to hurt your feelings directly. So, instead, he decides to cut your brake line and send your automobile racing into a damn tree just before skipping town. Next thing you know, you wake up in the hospital with Amnesia and can barely remember a thing about the people in your life. A few years later you meet Man B who, unbeknownst to you (I'm omniscient), possess very similar qualities to Man A. You fall in love with him and live happily ever after.
The point is that, if you were to meet both of these men independently, having no knowledge of the other (for comparison) you would probably rate them exactly the same in terms of compatibility for you. By this rationale, it's completely possible for more than one person to be right for you. In fact, it's pretty much a statistical certainty that there are many people that can give you a "Happily Ever After" ending. Some people might take this revelation as a real let-down. It's not. In actually, this is good news; VERY good news.
I read a book once that looked at love from a statistical point of view and presented a calculation that blew my mind: For every 12 people you date, you've met at least two that are good for you. Essentially, this means that you're closer to finding your prince charming (or princess) than ever before. However, don't get too excited. There is some fine print I think everyone should keep in mind while they're on the lookout for Mr./Mrs. Right.
1. There are TOO many fish in the Sea
We hear this all the damn time: there are so many fish in the sea, don't worry. I think people should worry and take more caution. The main point of this logic is to tell people not to settle, that they shouldn't compromise ever because there are so many other people out there—they don't have to compromise. WARNING. WARNING. This is a dangerous philosophy, and a stupid at that. It's loaded with presumption. The truth is, yea, there are a lot of people out there. But, A.) you'll never meet them all, and B.) time is limited—you're not immortal. This means to say that people often marry or find love within social circles they already belong to or within locations of proximity they frequent (places you often go). You're more likely to meet someone through a friend or at work than across the world. I know what you're thinking, though: "F*ck you buddy, have you ever heard of the internet? You can meet anyone in the world". Yea, but those chances are still limited to factors of potential: the person you meet has to participate in the same online dating site you're on, they have to be serious about looking for a mate, and a whole bunch of other factors like language, age, and sexual orientation. Some 60 year-old lesbian from Tibet isn't likely to be interested in meeting you for a beer. The point is, just because you have unlimited access to people, doesn't mean there is unlimited potential. Not every person is a potential mate. Numbers baby, numbers.
2. Timing is Everything
We all know this one well. That's because it's true. Not everyone is at a place in their lives which puts them in an ideal situation or frame of mind for a serious relationship. You may be passionately in love with someone, but if their life is too volatile to make a relationship possible, guess what? It's not going to happen. This is an important factor when considering someone who is good for you, as being "good" for you also means that they are able to have a relationship. What good is a Lamborghini without gasoline? It's useless. In that scenario a skateboard becomes more valuable. "All you need is love is a lie" — John Mayer. Finding the right person is as much about timing as it is about people. You may have already met several people that are good for you in regards to their personality or physical appearance, but it just didn't happen. Why? Because you both met at the wrong time. I'll never forget those haunting words that one ex-girlfriend once muttered to me during our break up: "I just wish I could have met you later in my life".
3. The Quest for Good Enough
Too often, the implication of "THE ONE" translates to "THE PERFECT ONE" inside our minds. The mind is a place of infinite possibilities. It doesn't live in the real world, and because of this, we must be mindful about our expectations and ourselves. I'm gonna clue you in on a little secret: the person you're going to end up with isn't perfect, and neither are you. We mustn't make the mistake of concluding that someone isn't right for us just because they aren't perfect. Even in the best relationships (actually, especially in the best relationships), those involved must constantly make room for the "imperfections" of their partners. A good lover doesn't expect perfection from us, they look past our shortcomings. And so, we must do the same and realize that having a great relationship isn't about finding a perfect lover—it's about mutual acceptance of one another.
Final Thought (Jerry Springer Style)
So, in the end, finding a great lover is really about being mindful and keeping a open mind. If we try too hard to live by a rigid code of expectations for our "ONE LOVER", we might not see when someone good for us is right in front of our faces. Take comfort in knowing that there are many people that are good for you. Also, take comfort in knowing that you're good for many other people. The challenge is opening our eyes to see it in time, and doing what's necessary to capture true love when it does show itself.