Right now, I’m in the most serious relationship I’ve ever been in; as in, even though I live in New York and he lives in San Francisco, we’ve talked about where and when we could live together — and how soon. He’s met my uncle; I’ve gone to his family’s cabin, and I’m joining them for Thanksgiving. His mom sends me emails, and my grandmother sends me clippings urging him to stop smoking. We talk almost every night and end most calls with “I love you.”There are days when I think we are meant to spend the rest of our lives together, and days when I really have no clue. We started dating when we were both in New York last fall. When he moved back to San Francisco (he was here for school), I didn’t expect anything to come of our little fling, but my feelings kept bringing me back to him. Although I’d sworn I wouldn’t get myself into another long distance relationship (I’ve been in more of those than same city ones), I couldn’t help myself.
The distance is one big issue, but even more important is trying to figure out how to handle our disagreements, our differences. Is he The One for me, and is that idea even something worth believing in? The problem with The One (or “The One,” as many of the people I informally polled seemed to think of it) is that nobody else can tell you whether your guy or girl is It. They may tell you how they see the relationship — and, frankly, many of my friends are quite wary of this one — but they’re not in it, so they don’t really know. Part of the problem is I’ve never really dated anyone long enough, or seriously enough, to work through these issues; our differences always broke us up before we got there.
I’m not talking about a dealbreaker here. Once you hit one of those, you know; he’s out. (Although one woman told me she knew her guy wasn’t The One because he was a cat person and she’s a dog person.) He smokes, which I hate, but I can handle that. What I’m talking about are fundamental differences that are at once endearing and annoying, depending on my mood. He’s a socialist, and I’m, well, if not a raging capitalist, hope to make as much money as I can so I can support the kids I’ll have someday. Sometimes I feel like I’m too conservative for him, which is funny because I doubt most people would consider me “conservative.” In every other long distance relationship I’ve been in, we’ve had phone sex, cybersex, or both; in this one, I feel like I’m the only one having long distance dirty thoughts.
Gail Konop Baker wrote about her own doubts when it comes to marital choices in her memoir Cancer is a Bitch (Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis): “I love him. I hate him. I want him. I don’t. But why doesn’t anyone tell you how risky it is to trust another person with the all of you, to imprint your life with their life? How frightening it is to love and let yourself be loved? That to stay with someone you have to get over and get on and be willing to redefine the marriage over and over again. And compromise. Always compromise.” I love that because all too often we’re told that if we’ve found someone who makes us happy, that’s it, the end. Get married. Game over.
Lots of my friends told me they don’t believe in the concept of “The One,” per se, but some had outrageously heartwarming success stories. Erotica writer Kristina Wright said that, at 23, “I never believed in true love or had no intentions of getting married until I met ‘the one.’ We met in February — while I was in a long distance relationship with his roommate — and by June we were engaged. We were married in October after spending less than three weeks together. There was an electric connection between us from the beginning, like nothing I had ever felt. Calling it magic wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration. It’s been eighteen years and he’s absolutely still ‘the one.’”
My biggest fear is that instead of confronting the issues we have — individually and as a couple — I’ll ignore them because I want to believe he’s The One, which can only lead to trouble. Yet knowing I love him simply isn’t enough; there are plenty of couples where love simply can’t sustain an entire relationship.
So what about you? Have you found “The One”? Do you think “The One” even exists?