Overpriced roses, chocolates and mandatory couple IG stories, anyone? You’re absolutely right, I’m referring to Valentines’ Day. Hope I didn’t offend anyone right there, but let’s face it: that’s the best way to describe Valentines’ Day, apart from the phrase “love is in the air”. I wouldn’t want to use the phrase “love is in the air” to describe Valentines’ Day though—how sad would it be to only experience love on Valentines’ Day! Then again, as an unattached 20-year-old female with 0 dating experience (and with 0 love interest), I don’t think I’m in the position to comment on that, unfortunately.
Keeping my relationship status in mind, it’s unsurprising that I spent February 14 working on assignments and scrolling through social media mindlessly. Like the many unattached souls out there, I was soaking in the Valentines’ Day vibes through content posted by friends and acquaintances.
Then, a thought struck me—do my attached friends believe that their partner is ‘The One’ for them? Is the concept of ‘The One’ even prevalent today?
With that, I embarked on my quest to understand more about romantic relationships—specifically, the concept of ‘The One’.
The concept of ‘The One’
Let’s first start off by defining ‘The One’. The online dictionary, Lexico, defines ‘The One’ as “a person regarded as one’s destined life partner”. It’s been said that believers of this concept generally strive to find the ‘perfect life partner’. This partner would typically check every criterion flawlessly: from having the ideal appearance to having compatible personalities. This is not to mention having similar hobbies and interests. This is akin to the Soulmate Mindset, which posits that relationship satisfaction comes from finding the right person. Frankly, though I don’t believe in this concept, I’m not surprised to see that a whopping 73% of Americans believe that they are destined to find their soulmates. This is due to the ‘Disney Effect’.
The phenomenon I’ll be discussing isn’t solely due to Disney; it’s due to media as a whole. However, I’d argue that the insurmountable consumption of Disney content has deeply shaped how we view romantic relationships from a young age. Other media content serves to reinforce this mindset.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s common for children (especially girls) to consume Disney content and long for a ‘Prince or Princess Charming’. As Logan Ury, a Harvard-trained Behavioural Scientist, mentioned in her book How to Not Die Alone, Disney seems to convey the idea that all we need to do is wait for that special day for that extraordinary person to appear in our lives. This notion is further perpetuated by the traditional coming of age movies where main characters patiently wait for a ‘perfect’ partner to appear. From movies like Our Times to TV series like True Beauty, female leads often wait for a Prince Charming to miraculously appear before their eyes to start a romantic chapter with them. Afterwhich, most of them would live their ‘happy ever after’. In Our Times, the female lead is an average student who fantasizes about her crush in school. She constantly waits around for her crush to appear and often neglects studying. It is as though her life merely revolves around a crush who doesn’t even know her existence. Similarly in True Beauty, the female lead utilizes makeup to improve her overall image to shoot her shot at her crush. She is portrayed to enduringly wait for her crush to be ‘The One’ to appear and cheer her up when she feels down. Evidently, the media underscores the prevalent belief in ‘The One’.
My Take—‘The One’ Doesn’t Exist
As much as I enjoy coming of age and romance content, I’m not a believer in ‘The One’. Now, I know this sounds ironic—just moments ago, I was talking about how such content instils the notion of ‘The One’. Yet, here I am, with the opposite belief. Before you jump to conclusions, hear me out on this.
The reason why I consume such content is precisely because I know it’s unrealistic. In my defence, I’m trying to live vicariously through the main character because I know the scenes are/ plot/ situation is highly improbable in reality. That’s the beauty of media—being able to live your dream fantasies through fictional characters, right?
Simply put, the idea of ‘The One’ just doesn’t seem feasible to me. I believe that people change all the time due to various experiences and events. Well, I know for a fact that my perspectives change every few months. Hence, the qualities I look for in ‘The One’ might change unpredictably. As such, I can’t help but wonder if ‘The One’ for me at 20 years old might differ from ‘The One’ for me at 25 years old. Additionally, I don’t think it’s nice (or fair) to expect ‘The One’ to change and grow in the exact same way I’d like him to just so he fits into my new ideal of ‘The One’.
Furthermore, I don’t think a specific person is needed to cultivate a strong and successful relationship. In my opinion, healthy relationships require open communication, compromise and mutual understanding—which can be done by any mature person. Thus, I’m not looking for ‘The One’ who shares the same hobbies as me or likes the same cuisines as me. Instead, I’m on the lookout for an open-minded person who is willing to grow in tandem with me. We are all products of our changing environment—as such, I see more value in finding someone who is willing to accept, or at least compromise with, my changes.
Regardless of whether you believe in ‘The One’ or not, love is a universal feeling that allows you to experience warmth and happiness. If you’re looking to be in a relationship, I’m wishing for you to find someone you deem best for yourself (be it ‘The One’ or not). But if you aren’t, find joy and comfort in being independent as an unattached individual! There’s nothing wrong with that—I know that I enjoy being single (albeit I do whine occasionally about being evergreen and single). Sending you, my reader, much love even though Valentines’ Day is over!