There is a guy I know only through social media who I like more than any guy I’ve ever known. Even though I’ve never met him, I feel like he is the perfect guy for me – he fits every single wish I would have for my future husband – every single thing! (Most importantly is that he has the same standards as me.) I really think he might be the one , but how can I know???!! Everyone always says don’t look for your husband until you’re older, but then you also hear those stories about people meeting their soulmates at a young age, you know? I actually feel like this guy could be who I would marry in the future – he is the guy I’ve always dreamed about becoming my husband (and I’ve thought about this for a year!!). What would you do?
Is he The One?
Dear Is He the One,
My first thought is this: people can make themselves look nearly perfect on the internet. Filters and spell check and witty words are all too easy to apply in a virtual setting. For you to truly know if you are compatible, you simply must spend face time with him, but not FaceTime (get it? That’s a good dad joke, huh?). You might have a cyber-crush on this boy (and I don’t use the word “cyber” before “crush” to diminish its potency or sincerity in any way, I promise), but you don’t really know him. Not yet. But more on this later.
Let’s talk about about the concept of The One. Working under the assumption that you’ve written me seeking true and honest advice, I’m going to tell you that this boy probably is not. I don’t say this because you’ve fallen in love with him over the internet, or because you’ve never met him. I’m saying this because there are 7 billion people on this earth, and I believe that if we operate under the assumption that there is one man or woman out there that we’re each destined to be with, our chances at finding happiness with that person, or any person, diminish significantly. When we live our lives believing that there is only one person out there for us, it stunts our capacity to develop sincere, authentic interest in other people–all kinds of people! Dating, as it turns out, is not just a good way for us to find a permanent companion, but also a memorable and effective way for us to learn about the people around us.
Questions of the Is-He-The-One? variety are, I believe, some of the most commonly and frequently pondered by our generation. Our fixation with The One is cause for concern, and is deeply rooted in the plague of non-commitment that has infiltrated our society. Truth be told, I believe we shape our dating habits, even our life habits, to fit into a mold that allows for a Disney-esque romantic fairy tale. That is to say, dating in today’s age seems to be a lot of gathering information about someone until you find something you don’t like about them, all to make room for The One (who may or may not even exist).
Our generation’s fixation with The One is married (pun somewhat intended) to its fixation with perfection. Your statement implying that this boy exemplifies “every single wish [you] have for [your] future husband” is most likely incorrect for at least two reasons: 1. He isn’t perfect, because no one is, and 2. As I mentioned before, it’s very easy to intricately design how you look to others over the internet. To your followers and Facebook friends, you can be whoever you want to be, which is usually, you guessed it, perfect. Social media doesn’t cultivate a space for imperfection, and whenever someone does post something that isn’t sunshine-y and glittery, they’re condemned for being socially unacceptable, for airing out their dirty laundry in internet public. I’m not advocating that people share the intimate details of their lives with the world wide web, but because they don’t, there isn’t space on the internet for us to be anything but perfect. And viewing others through lenses of perfection is dangerous because when we hold each other to a standard of perfection, we’re setting ourselves up for inevitable disappointment.
I believe The One is an idea that can be applied rather liberally to many facets of our lives. Replace “The One,” for example, with “Dream Job.” We find ourselves tirelessly chasing after a Dream Job that will bring us happiness, security, and fulfillment; Dream Job will allow us to spend time with our loved ones, travel when and wherever we want, and pay us a handsome salary adequate enough to purchase Dream Home. But until we find Dream Job, all other jobs are merely placeholders, receiving a severe lack of attention and dedication, simply because we’re distracted by the elusive Dream Job–a construct that literally doesn’t even exist yet. Our very lives are directly impacted by things like Dream Job or, The One: “One day I’ll be pretty enough, smart enough, happy enough.” But until then, we wait, and sometimes work, for the perfect life, The One, and all the while wonder why we’re not happy.
I fear these words are coming across as cynical, even chastising. They’re not meant to be. But they are meant to be authentic and honest. So, no my dear, I don’t think he’s The One. But he could be A One. And if you get to know this boy, and you realize that you love him, that he makes you happy, then, well, what else is there? You say that you’re young–maybe too young to have found The One–and while I believe you’re most likely right, a favorite quote of mine reads, “Anything can happen; anything happens all the time.” He could be someone who brings light and joy and growth into your life–you’ll only know if you actually spend time with him, in person, without a computer to shield and distort your perceptions. But also know there are many others out there who could bring similar amounts of light and joy and growth into your life. Many of us are so distracted by The One, that we completely miss The Others. And The Others are wonderful, too. They’re people who are flawed; they’re jobs that don’t meet every qualification. But they’re real and they can make us happy, even if they aren’t perfect. They can teach us how to love and compromise and grow. And in the end, my dear, that’s what matters.
Sincerely and with much love,