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Recently I was asked if I’d found the one, and I was left a bit out of joint.
I thought that the idea of ‘the one’ was like Father Christmas, we all know its fantastical tripe, but we like to pretend is real. This idea of ‘the one’, accompanied by ‘True Love’ is letting women down.
‘The one’ and ‘True Love’ are portrayed as things that creep up on us one day…bam! It slaps us around the face like a wet fish and we’re head-over-heels, hysterically in love. It’s something that completes us, a fantastical world where our lover is someone that’s been waiting for us all along. We’ve been destined, fated, assured in some deep space-time continuum, some pre-ordained writing in the stars, some divine creation, that our paths will meet and we will fall in LOVE. Something deeply magical and smothered in fairy dust. Something that means we are meant to draw some kind of aww-catharsis that the sparky protagonist and ‘the one’ finally hit it off and confirm the feelings we’d all suspected, and wholeheartedly yearned to be revealed.
The twilight saga epitomises the problem of ‘the one’ concept for me. Upon being left by her boyfriend, Bella descends into months of zombie-like depression which initially culminates in her ambling the streets in some half-conscious, distraught trance of hysteria (which incidentally derives from the Greek word for uterus), and falling asleep in a bush. But of course, it all ends happily and they get back together, like we all knew they would, because we know the formulae: ‘True Love’ is fated.
Then take Ariel, in ‘the Little Mermaid’; she forsakes her voice (what would she need that for anyway?), her kick-ass mermaid tail, her family and friends so she can wander around pining after a man she’s never met. The curtains draw, she wakes up engaged to a complete stranger, who she has quite literally never said a word to, and he asks her what her name was again, but’s ok, it’s ‘True Love’! But the Little Mermaid is old-school, we’ve moved on right?
But BBC’s Miranda once again feeds women the same grotesque ideals of life and romance. That ‘marriage’ and ‘love’ or ‘being in a relationship’ are the only things that matter and define us. She refers to all successful women as ‘’career bitches’ and is forever trying to lose weight, make herself look more feminine and ultimately snare a man. The sickening part is that this isn’t some satirical dig at the whole idea: we’re actually meant to feel happy and cry joyously that the 20 episodes of Miranda have ended fruitfully. That is, if the only purpose was for her to get her man, forgive any inadequacies wholeheartedly and get married on a whim – well I suppose it has been ‘such fun!’
Why are these women forsaking their families, friends and ambitions for these men? Why are we being fed this concept of overpowering, all-consuming love? Our reason for getting up in the morning that will outweigh any other love we may feel? That LOVE is the fairy-tale promise of a prince. Someone who’ll ‘whisk’ you away. Whisk you away like a bowl of angel delight and turn you pink and fluffy and feminine, ‘whisk’ till you’re dizzy in love and can’t see straight. The one. The one out of approximately 3.5 billion who was led towards us by some divine intervention and just so happens to live around the corner.
This is why there is a tendency for women throw themselves wholeheartedly into relationships, to decode texts and flippant comments, and expect a man to be their emotional blanket; a barrier between them and the world and to fulfil every one of their social and emotional needs. In contrast, there is no equivalent tripe for men, they don’t sit around discussing small nuances of relationships and their multiple interpretations.
In spite of this, I still have to ask myself, in general conversation with a friend, would I pass all three counts of the Bechdel test? If achieving ‘True Love’ is so often portrayed as this ultimate challenge and achievement, can we really break free of it?
I say we can. I want emotional support and the right to free expression and freedom and autonomy and to feel supported and appreciated. And not as a privilege, as an entitlement.
No-one can complete you, you must be complete in yourself. Love isn’t about your ‘other half’: one and one make two. Love is knowing someone, their idiosyncrasies, their annoying habits, the way their hair looks in the morning, and more than anything, wanting to be with them – not because they’re ‘the one’, but because you have chosen to be with each other. There is no single soul-mate, there are many. We all need lots of mates, let your soul get matey. Take your soul out for coffee and dancing and for late-night copious wine drinking and McDonald’s spurges. I have soul mates who are friends and family, souls who I’ve grown with, souls that I cry on the shoulder of, Thursday night Karaoke souls and souls that who I delight in watching gruesome channel-4 real-life documentaries with; but no one soul is the exact fit to mine. Humans aren’t cogs that fit together perfectly because we’re not mechanisms. Every soul is a mountain range and the peaks and valleys and pleasant pastures of my soul won’t slot neatly with anyone else’s. There’s no love with a capital ‘L’, no love that is at the top of the hierarchical pyramid, none that overrides all others, but every person I love fulfils a different part of my life, my time and my emotional wellbeing. There’s a spectrum of love, with friends, family and lovers all slotted in. So I’ll love my family and I’ll love my friends’ whether there’s a ‘boy’ prefix or not. This isn’t dig at romance or love, I just don’t want to be ‘the one’, I want to be ‘the one you’ve chosen’, because that means so much more. Out of the 3.5 billion you whittled it down to me, because I’m the one you like the most