It’s Valentine’s Day and I thought it would be apropos to talk about finding “the one” because this Hallmark holiday is built around supporting couples—people who have ostensibly found their one true love. I’ve always disliked that—what about the solo folks who do not identify themselves as part of a pair? How about the unabashedly single? Or the frustratingly single? Or the poly people who have many loves? It’s a holiday that leaves a lot of people out in its perpetual promotion of “the one true love”.

Mating for life

Many people spend their lives searching for “the one”. This romantic myth is perpetuated by many spiritual belief systems and plain old romantic folks who can’t let go of this idea that if we search the earth for that perfect fit, everything else will fall into place and our lives will be complete. Plato’s idea that we are not whole until we find the person who completes us. Every week I have women write to me telling me they want to feel whole. No one else is needed for you to be whole. You get to be whole all on your own.

I don’t believe there is the “one” and I think this is a rather antiquated and harmful idea that holds people back from experiencing all they are here to experience. I think there are many potential “ones” and that we find the right one for the right time in our lives and place in our own growth process.

Relationships come to teach us the deepest lessons we will learn in this world. This is the playground for deep growth, but most people don’t like to play that way. The work of being in relationship, of learning about yourself and who you become as you relate to people you love; learning how to love fully, fiercely and with great presence—this is the hardest work you will do in your life. Learning how to love is deep work. So hard that many people choose not to do it. There are so many ways to avoid doing this work. You create a maze of defenses to keep yourself from getting too close and from creating too much intimacy because vulnerability is an absolute requirement for intimate development. How scary it is to be seen in all of your facets. You like to be liked and seen positively rather than holistically, ugly and all. Or do you?

So if you find that perfect soulmate, the thinking goes, you’ll be able to let your guard down just for them because they are who you’ve been waiting for, and “it’s meant to be” so they won’t ever leave you, right? But in fact there is no “One” for you. You have many potential “soul mates”, play mates to traverse this gorgeous life with and they tend to come right when you need them, for whatever spell they are meant to be in your life. Learn the lessons you are meant to learn from each one and then move forward courageously and fiercely, ready to love and love again, to bear your soul when you lock in again with the next brave loving soul to journey in a sea of togetherness. Many people can fit your needs at any given time…how well and for how long varies. #YMMV

What does true love look like?

I have seen many people choose to stay in a loveless relationship because they were convinced it was “meant to be”—so they came up with complex stories for why they needed to stay together. You do not do yourself or your lovers favors by maintaining loveless relationships where you are simply existing and have ceased to grow. But if facing the limitations is too painful, you’ll do everything possible to avoid accepting it.

The truth is that every relationship has its limitations, but people keep putting them all into this ideal model of “forever.” Forever is a really long time! Life is too short to accept a loveless relationship because you are “supposed to.” You either find the love again with your mate, or free yourself up to have it with someone new, starting with yourself.

I’m not being cynical. I want to encourage you to be more realistic and honest about your relationships. It’s about being courageous with your love. If you find a soul mate, enjoy them for the time you have together and be grateful each day that they are here to work and play with you for whatever amount of time you have together. Be courageously present to that each day. Can your fierce presence help you stay grateful, rather than succumb to taking your beloved for granted? When you begin to take for granted, it’s time to assess why you are doing that and whether the relationship is still right for you. Hard questions that might need to be asked over and over. You are not limited to just “the one true love”. You have many possibilities, so which one is right for you right now in your life? The answer may not be the one you are with. Let Valentine’s D ay be about loving YOU enough to demand more from love and more from your relationships.