This month we’re going to be exploring something I like to call the myth of the one. It’s idea that there is one person who is the prefect partner for you. Your soul mate. The one you are meant to be with. We’ll take a look at how it has created unreasonable expectations, and failures, in relationships.
The idea of romantic love is pretty new, born in the age of chivalry. We think of our knight in shining armor, trying to create reality out of a fiction. How we look at love is cultural. It has changed substantially since then. Gay people have added a lot to that understanding in the West. Because we weren’t able to marry we defined new ways of relating and sharing life together.
Romance isn’t a bad idea. Who doesn’t enjoy the rush at the beginning of a relationship. In polyamoros circles we refer to that rush as New Relationship Energy (or NRE). It’s a complex interaction of neurochemistry that developed to help us bond with each other. But NRE can’t last forever. Our notion of romantic love can convince us that something is wrong when the intense feelings start to fade.
If someone is the only person with whom I’m meant to be in this lifetime, how can the feelings fade? We can even question the value of an amazing relationship because the rush is subsiding. But, the fading of NRE is what paves the road for deeper intimacy.
If we take pause, we realize that the energy we used to feel is being replaced by something deeper, but less intense. Real, mature, love is blossoming. Partners are able to see each other clearly for the first time. Yes, there are times that clarity ends a relationship. We can discover things that couldn’t work for us. Our beloved may not be as good a fit as we thought. Disappointing, but important.
The fading of NRE can start as early as a few weeks into a relationship for some people. For others, six months or more. It’s important to understand your personal time frame so that you can manage this delicate time successfully. My expiry is around three months. It’s a very black and white experience for me. A switch goes off and I’m no longer crazy about the person. Deeper love either blooms, or doesn’t. Just because two people move through NRE at different paces, doesn’t mean they aren’t right for each other. Too many folks give up because their love interest isn’t experiencing the same intensity.
The issue if a relationship survives is that “The One” theory doesn’t consider that people change Your idealized vision of your partner not survive a significant shift. People can, and do, grow apart. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes our feelings for each other can even deepen after times of significant growth. But if you are only able to love your man as he originally appeared in your life, there’s no room for growth. That attitude could destroy your relationship.
I’ve had four significant relationships. I was in love with each of them during our time together. I am still close to two of my ex’s. But, we aren’t same men we were when we met. The men we became needed to be explored outside the context of our relationships. We ended the partnership but remained friends.
I’ve been with my husband for 13 years. We’ve both grown and the relationship has shifted with us. We’ve had our share of tough times, but I think one of the reasons we’ve made it this far is that we both know there are many ways to be compatible. If one accepts the possibility than many people could fit then why not the new and improved version of your current partner. If the day came that Jack and I couldn’t be together we would still love each other. Our love is much more than a rush of chemicals.
There are many One’s out there. More than we’ll ever connect with. Successful relationships are about committing to growing together, finding the only one you were meant to be with.