A couple days ago, I got excited when I saw that The Chainsmokers released a collaboration with Coldplay titled “Something Just Like This.” The lyrics describe a man thinking back about the great heroes he has learned about through his life. From the ancient heroes of Achilles and Hercules, to the modern heroes of Spider-Man, Batman and Superman, he highlights their extraordinary gifts. He thinks to himself that he is not special — he is just an ordinary guy. A woman comes along in the story and says that she is not interested in “superhuman gifts” or “fairytale bliss.” She wants him, in all his ordinariness.
What I found interesting about this song is that it suggested a type of love that is not often discussed in art. The song got me thinking about relationships and many of the ideas that people have around them. I have realized that many issues that occur in relationships are a result of a series of expectations that we have for our romantic bonds. One idea that I think is particularly harmful is the notion of finding “The One.”
“The One” is an idea I’m sure we are all familiar with. You’ve seen it in romantic movies, shows and books. They are the ideal — the perfect partner. If only you can find them, you will marry them and live happily ever after. Everyone has that special someone that is perfect for them. Someone who shares your values, who fully understands you and is able to keep the passion alive. This expectation is unhealthy, because it neglects a key aspect of human nature: the fact that we are all flawed. No one is perfect — and to believe that someone is perfectly compatible with you is to deny this simple truth.
I believe that the idealism people have for relationships sets them up for eventual disappointment. We want perfect relationships, but they don’t exist. We want people to completely understand us, but they can’t. We want to be harmonious, but personalities clash. We want passion to last forever, but it dies.
“The One” is a beautiful thought — the idea that there is someone who’s destined for you, who will love you, unconditionally, forever. That’s why we love it. It feels good. It’s a comforting feeling. We grow up hearing the fairy tales that sell us this idea and it sounds wonderful. But it is simply not true.
This is not the happiest message and I am not usually a pessimist. But perhaps this view is not actually pessimistic. I would consider this view cautiously optimistic. I believe in the potential of people to have great relationships, but not if they believe in many irrational beliefs that our culture has promoted.
If we acknowledge that not all people are perfect, we can start to have more compassionate relationships: ones that can stand through the frustrations that inevitably arrive. These romantic images of relationships do not exist. Relationships take work, consideration and love. Without these things and with the irrational pursuit of romantic ideals, relationships do not last and we will leave ourselves dissatisfied.
The perfect one does not exist. That is okay. No one is perfect. If we acknowledge this, many of the issues that plague relationships will end. We can be more tolerant and reasoned towards each other and have happier and more satisfying relationships.