What does it feel like to find "The One"? How do you know when you have found this person? How essential is this feeling for a successful and happy long-term relationship?
posted by UniversityNomad to human relations (51 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
A good (male) friend of mine fairly recently began dating a woman. They spoke for about a week online, and then met in person. On their second date, they both felt a powerful sense that they were soulmates, each felt a certainty that they had found "The One" in the other person. They expressed this certainty to each other, and spoke within the first week of knowing each other in person about strongly desiring to get engaged/married to each other, which they essentially agreed to do once more time elapses. He spoke about feeling a sense of "Destiny" - as if they were fated to be together, and his choice in the matter was simply one of (happily) accepting his destiny.
I am obviously extremely pleased for him, but this has left me a bit philosophically blindsided, because I don't believe in the idea of "The One", or the idea of soulmates, or the idea of "love at first sight". I had always assumed that the idea of love at first sight (or second sight, in this case) was a sort of revisionist history, one that two people, having dated for a year (or however long), retrospectively and subconsciously imposed together on their relationship's beginning - a sort of collective origin myth, if you like. I had never actually had any experience with it live, in realtime, with real people that I actually know. This is also complicated by the fact that I have never experienced this personally, and I can't imagine doing so. I hope to get married in the future, once, for life, but I have always felt a powerful and overriding sense of my own agency surrounding my choice of partner, and have never felt any sense of fate, or destiny, or even particular clarity, about whether one person, with their personality and strengths and flaws, would be ultimately be a better relationship fit than another person. I have two sets of questions, stemming from this:
#1: Can anyone explain this sensation of having found "The One", or of having found your destined soulmate? Is it more than personal infatuation for someone - infatuation that fortuitously happens to be shared? How do two people who barely know each other have such a strong and mutual sense that the other is "The One"? What does this sense feel like? How do you know that you're not simply projecting a narcissistic imaginary soulmate onto the other person? How reliable is this sense of "The One-ness"? Does it ever dissolve once two people get to know each other further, and realize that the other is not the person that each had imagined? Does this sense of certainty about the other person ever last a lifetime? Is it the same as being in love? What is the difference between this sensation and the feeling of being deeply attracted to someone, admiring his mind and character and all of the quirks that make him himself, thinking of him throughout the day and wondering what he would think about particular things that you encounter, desiring physical intimacy with him, wanting to spend time with him, missing him when he is gone, and being delighted to have the good fortune of being in a relationship with this person, BUT at the same time, sometimes feeling areas of discord or incongruity or uncertainty about the relationship or the person, feeling no sense of fate or destiny surrounding the entire experience, and having the unmistakable feeling that if you had not gotten together with him, you could indeed be happy with someone else - possibly someone quite different?
#2: How necessary is this "The One" feeling for the happiness and success of a long relationship, such as a lifelong marriage, in the collective experience of Metafilter? Do most people end up feeling something of this type of experience, or is generally limited to particular types of people? Do most people wait to get married or long-term partnered until they feel such an experience? Is this really something I should be waiting for, or counting on? Is feeling such an experience heavily dependent on personality (my friend is a romantic type; I'm a closet romantic, but typically operate as a pragmatist)? Is it, like some religious experiences, dependent on your willingness to be swept up in the experience, and is my skepticism is actually preventing me from doing so? Am I simply not romantic enough in personality, and thus am temperamentally unsuited ever to having such an experience, and am unlikely ever to do so?
I would love to hear any thoughts anyone has about this situation or my questions surrounding it, as well as any anecdata that anyone would like to share about their own relationships, and to what extent this romantic ideology has proven true or essential in creating or sustaining them.