If I could destroy one relationship myth — only one — it would be the idea of finding “the one.” You know what I’m talking about. It’s the story that we’re sold from fairytales to sitcoms to rom coms to f*cking Nora Roberts books: There is one perfect match for you, one person who will complete you, the other half to your soul. Keep searching for that person, no matter what! Leave any person that doesn’t fit that idealized “other half” image! Don’t settle for anything less than stars in their eyes whenever they look at you, mind-blowing sex every single time, and so much in common that you don’t even have to use words to talk to each other!
I’m calling bullsh*t. As Dan Savage so loves to say, there is no “one.” There is only a .6 or .7 who do you do the courtesy of rounding up to one and then work your ass off to make happy while they do the same for you. But beyond the fact that it isn’t possible, I hate this myth so, so much because I think it poisons a lot of good relationships and causes hurt where hurt doesn’t need to be. It makes us question our relationships when we’re with people who don’t “complete” us (even though no one can) and it cracks our hearts open when we lose the person we thought was “the one.”
But you know what? Life does go on after you lose “the one.” Here are nine stories of what happens way after the rom com ends.
1. Aurora, 29
I wake up in the morning still in love. I cry at work or on the phone with my Grandma when I realize my life won't involve going home to him at night. I see him on the streets and I get excited, then a pang of realization hurts in my chest when I realize we aren't speaking anymore. I hate myself for losing him (sometimes). I congratulate myself for walking away from someone who didn't respect me (sometimes). I date other people and feel the emptiness of life. I move through my days with purpose, direction, optimism, and a sadness so deep I can only feel it in my bones. I wonder now what is worth doing now or ever. I miss him constantly.
2. Candy, 32
I had to grieve for the loss of a fantasy of my future as well as the actual person. I had to get to know myself again, and deal with the realization that so much had been lost. And I had to succumb to the intensity of it all because no matter how much you know you did the right thing, you weren't meant to be together. It hurts like a motherf*cker and my heart will always bear this scar. Wouldn't change a thing.
3. Anna, 28
I realized the person I thought was "the one" never thought I was "the one." This was a whole different kind of heartbreak, but mostly surrounding my ego. I now cherish and value real partnership and support, something I was never able to conceptualize when I was busy trying the convince "the one" I was "the one."
4. Pablo, 41
My self-esteem took a huge hit. I spent a lot of time questioning myself, even though I wasn't the reason for the breakup. "Could I have done anything different?" "Maybe if I was less this, and more that…” "Why does it work for everyone else? Maybe there is something wrong with me.” It was very hard to find motivation and keep myself going, I pretty much just survived until the pain started diminishing and I was able to start functioning normally again.
Meeting other women is a tricky thing still. I started out being very careful and at the same time more desperate. It's taken a while for me to feel comfortable again and start being myself, and even now that my confidence is back and I go out a lot, it's still not easy to let women in and it becomes a problem when you end up hurting great women ‘cause you can't commit.
It's been over a year now, and not a day goes by that I don't think of her. Although I would like a serious relationship again, I can't really see myself in another one.
5. H, 26
Drank a lot a tried not to think about it. Still not sure if I'm over it or just pretending.
6. Sarah, 27
I pretended I didn't care. Avoided any new relationships thinking there was no point. Been three years and still not over it, as I recently discovered. Started seeing a therapist since I've got to break the cycle and start dating again. Sounds really dramatic but maybe that's the way it had to go.
7. Christa Anne, 33
After I lost "the one" I had a total life breakdown. Moved across country, hooked up with an old love from a decade prior, we had an oops pregnancy and then quick marriage. A marriage that dissolved as quickly as you would expect it to.
As I was getting divorced and feeling that I'd completely ruined any chance at having the life I wanted to have, I met my actual One. We've been together five years, have an army of kids between us and have gone through hell and back many times. He's still my one. He's always my one.
8. Hope, 33
It's not over yet. Just on pause. I have hope, and it may be foolish, but we met at the wrong moment. I hope when we start back up that there is any rust or anything.
9. Mary, 28
I enjoyed my singlehood like I intended to when we decided to break up. I did my own thing, appreciated not being attached to anyone, and I grew up. It all felt right at the time. Now that it's been four years, I've matured. But I'm not sure breaking up was the right choice in the long run. I compare everyone to him and I haven't come across one person who I think would be a partner who was good as he was. Just thinking about him makes me cry. I have dreams about him and run into him a lot. I can't begin to describe the feeling I got when I ran into him and his new girlfriend on the street. I'm trying my best to not think about him or how how great we were together. I'm trying to allow myself to date someone else but it's f*cking hard as hell.
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