Who should THE ONE be?

Reading Anais Nin recently has got me thinking about the question. Even though she remains one of the most prolific (? I don’t know how to describe her precisely) lovers documented in literary history, she was very often confused and bewildered by the most perplexing question in the world of relationships – the grand question of Who Should The One Be?

I am Hugh’s refuge and he is mine. Is that the love that makes one less alone, the loyal secure one, or the passion that fuses bodies, or the tender love, devotion, desire, intellectual harmony? Which one am I closest to? Henry, yet not close in the trusting way. Closeness to the Father, to the lover, to the brother. So many kinds of closeness! What is it that annihilates loneliness?

– Anais Nin, Nearer the Moon (The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin 1937-1939)

The huge question of Who Should The One Be is of course related to what kind of Relationship one is looking/searching/yearning for. Of course, I don’t think someone that is the loyal secure one cannot provide you with passion or intellectual harmony at the same time. They are not all mutually exclusive concepts. But they are characteristics and facets of relationships that have to be weighed according to one’s needs, wants and priorities in life. Some prioritise a sense of security above all else, some can’t care less about that intangible passion, while some would rather die than suffer with an intellectually uninspiring partner in life.

Somewhat like religion and philosophy, I feel that there are these three main principles of faith that people follow when it comes to deciding Who Should Be The One for them.

Some people believe that the most critical factor in making things work is realistic compatibility. This is the Keep It Real school of thought. They’re well aware that the thing that happens in romantic comedies – where the good looking guy and the good looking girl meets, go through dramatic life-changing events and then go on to live happily ever after – is a reality that will never work in reality. They believe that life is about managing realistic expectations. They are just looking for a good honest companionship to offer them security in going through life humbly and be offered with the possibility of not having to die alone. They look for partners with sensible expectations, similar life goals and the probable capacity of being contented to live life that way till the end. That certainly sounds like a good way to live life.

On the other side of the mating pool, some people believe that the most crucial factor when choosing romantic partners is that they need to be people whom they feel attracted to – physically, aesthetically, sexually, psychologically, chemically, pheromonally, whatever etc. This is the Attraction Is Most Important school of thought. Because to them, the sparks are what sparks off the throes of romantic passion, which is the point of having a special someone, right? And also because they think, well, the difference between a friend and a boy/girlfriend is the additional act of interest, which makes sense.

And then there are the people who believe that above everything else, the most important factor to consider is the soul connection. This is the Soulmate school of thought. The one that posit that your mate for life should be your mate of soul as well. The people who marry their best friends to be their spouses. The other half that will complete them, make up for what they lack in and compliment each other in ways mutually beneficial and awesome. The people whom they claim understand them extremely well, which makes sense that they would want to connect them in their lives for good.

And of course, last but not least, there is the Wishful school of thought with people who want all three.

However, putting the joking aside, sometimes I really wonder whether relationships have got more to do with the people in them or the love.

The dreadful truth is that you don’t just end up with a love that is passionate and mutual at the same time. You’re never lead straight to the ones who could love you back, the ones with no buts, and the ones with whom you can actually be happy.

…Life would be so much easier if we were all capable of finding that mad, mind-blowing, all-consuming, extraordinary, lasting, and reciprocated love in a sea of about seven billion people on the first try. …Sometimes the external factors are just too exhausting that a love independent of space and time would be nice to imagine.

– Hazel Venida, We’re Not Supposed to Understand Love (Thought Catalog)

Many people would claim that the Soulmate school of thought is the least shallow one of them all. I disagree. I would love to claim some moral high ground and say that I am all for defending all shades of singlehood before I can find that one Soulmate that will complete my somehow purportedly lacking life as an independent single human being. Unfortunately, I think all schools of thought are equally valid and respectable as life choices that one may make.

Because maybe like religion and philosophy, there is the leeway to make wrong choices in relationships as well. Some people grow up and realise that the religion that they were born into were not the right fitting faith for them and they converted. Some people grow older and realise that YOLO is really not the philosophy that is beneficial for their aging hearts and they make some lifestyle changes.

Maybe this is why people have been going on and on about the pains of having met the right one at the wrong time or the wrong one at the right time.

Maybe it is all about meeting the ones who will never be before meeting The One.

And that for some people we might only get to meet the ones who will never be because we end up dying before getting to meet The One.

But that’s okay, because life would still be lived out anyway.

Life is what should always matter the most.

40 Days Postmortem

So, the exciting project that was 40 Days of Dating.

Lots of food for thought, because, let’s face it, there’s not that many people out there who are willing to try out literally in a social experiment the very trying notion of platonic friendships. Many people are willing to just accept the alleged impossibility of it. And some people use it as a basis for establishing romantic relationships. You know, the whole my-spouse-is-my-best-friend business.

I was very glad to read that they did not ruin their friendship by the end of the forty days, though in the long run, I’m not so sure if their previously untainted-by-the-experiment friendship would show signs of having been affected somewhat. I was also very glad to read that they did not end up together, because that just would have been incredibly cliche and might become unwholesome fodder for more pairs of good friends to try the experiment out themselves.

But, just like the adage goes, the most important point of the 40 Days is not about the ending.

It’s about the process. It’s about the wealth of self-affirmative knowledge, self-analysis and introspection that is drawn out throughout the days of reflecting upon the days. It’s about being serious and taking the time to deliberate an issue that by its very nature involves someone else, but oddly enough most of the time explodes out of proportion singlehandedly by one party. If you get what I mean.

Many of the issues that were raised through their daily reflections are typical ones that we hear about all the time and they certainly reflect the crazy complex of stressors in everyday life itself that exerts inescapable pressure on relationships.

I think the most crucial issue though, as raised by E in the previous post, is one’s family background.

Just like how people are always saying, the past will always come back to haunt us.

It is just like how people always talk about the way many kids, who were abused in their childhood, grow up to become abusers themselves or get trapped as resigned silent victims in another vicious cycle of abuse. When you grow up in an environment of abuse, an environment with abuse is all you know about. Comfort comes from a sense of familiarity, and if abuse is familiar, then that would be comfort. I suppose it is part of human nature that when we encounter something new, we always try to, consciously or not, source for something familiar to ground ourselves in, before we can feel alright enough to venture forth and drive the new and exciting unfamiliarity by its reins. In trying to make decisions about our future, we fall back on knowledge we’ve gained in the past.

I have always wondered if my family background is the reason why I am extremely opposed to wanting to start a family of my own. Growing up, every other day was spent listening to crazy ass arguments and heated bickering, all dripping generously with my father’s blatant disrespect for my mother. (Which I think might be the reason why I really hated guys when I was younger, but that’s another point for another day.) I didn’t understand (still don’t) why two people would want to stay together, for the sake of kids, if they were filling each other with so much resentment and unhappiness. To me, our own individual selves should always, always, always come first. Kids follow you, for goodness’ sake. How happy can your children be when they see you behaving miserably all the time?! (I also think this might be a reason why I definitely shouldn’t have kids of my own, but that’s also another point.)

I was the kid (still am) who wished everyday that her parents would get a fucking divorce to end everyone’s misery once and for all. But it never happened, though not because there were no threats made or no attempts made to do so. I honestly think it was because they got to a point where they are so filled with fucking indifference that they can’t care less about doing something about it. So they just left it as it is, like people leave dead leaves on a pile of dirt to disintegrate into compost and reintegrate as earth and morph into the nothing that they never were. I think this is perhaps one of my greatest fears of relationships. Not just for myself, but for everyone. I’m sure no one, except perhaps extreme pessimists, starts out their relationship with the belief that one day it would all fizzle out and die miserably. People begin with the yearning faith that their love will last and persist, even if it may get less intense and impassioned over the years, but that it would always be there – that’s what got the whole thing started in the first place, right? But to have witnessed so many failures of others and one very close to home, the depths of bitter resentment and wretched unhappiness that plagues many marriages just hollow out any wells of belief or faith that I have, not just in the institution of marriage, but also the notion of romantic love.

It is a fact of life that beauty in nature does not last, because part of the beauty that forms life is its transience. That’s cool with me, go ahead and die. Immortal beauty is not as precious anyway. What terrifies me is the very real prospect of relationships that could have appeared to be as promising as it could get, end up spurting jet black streams of toxic sentiments. It’s not the dying, but the breeding of hateful apathy, which I think is worse than dying.

It makes no sense to me why some people are so up for constantly seeking for the one and throwing themselves into relationships over and over again and still do it even after getting hurt or disappointed repeatedly.

I’m aware that asshole-ness is not genetically inheritable, but I believe that asshole behavior can be acquired and learned through environmental exposure. A part of me is perhaps fearful that I might end up like my parents – an abusive jerk or a gutless chump. I guess a part of my psyche is retrospectively fatalistic, that I don’t know how this whole hopeful-for-relationship thing works because I haven’t grown up knowing it.

Many people think that having an awareness of such a possible pitfall is one of the best ways to prevent falling in. Sure, it could be. But I don’t think it teaches you how to get out should you fall.

And what if you don’t even survive the fall in the first place?