One Perfect Man for Every Woman? Gimme a Break!

Janelle Harris

girl on beachDarn you, cheesy love story! Curse thee, romantic comedy! And I shake an angry fist at even you, low-budget soap opera!

For you’ve all played a part in tainting us, the legions of single women running around here clutching on to the concept of one true, amazing, kiss-me-on-a-mountaintop-as-doves-circle-overhead kind of relationship. And many of us -- including me -- are all tangled up in the fantasy of a man being "The One." (Strike up the sappy violin solo and the breeze that mysteriously tousles my hair.)

The older and more analytical (read: smart alecky) I get, the more I question whether there is such a thing as The One. We’ve all fallen in love before, some deeper than others. But how do you define The One? And does that mean that this singular person is supposed to be so amorously superior that you couldn’t be happy and content with, say, The Two? Or maybe even The Three?

According to legend, there’s a man roaming around the Earth who possesses a combination of qualities that make him seem hand-designed just for you and you and you and yes, even me and my ol’ cantankerous self. Knowing that he exists is supposed to take the worry out of this whole dating and relationship thing.

Sure, you may get stuck with some duds in the meanwhile. I’ve entertained dudes who clearly weren’t even close to being The Fifteenth, let alone The One, because I was being nice and didn’t want to hurt their feelings or I was just biding my time in between boyfriends.

I’m a relationship girl -- three years with my daughter’s father, eight years with the didn’t-put-a-ring-on-it ex, and now a year-and-a-half with Senor Sunshine, the fodder for so many of these love and sex-related posts. But in between my starters, there were indeed some benchwarmers. 

Most of them were hallmarks of my Thug Life Collection, picked up during my post-college period when I was experimenting with that whole good girl/bad boy dynamic. There was, for example, the goodhearted drug dealer I tried to convert to the straight-and-narrow. We had long, philosophical talks about right and wrong and how dramatically different his life had been than mine -- both of his parents were crack addicts who died of AIDS; I was raised in my mom and my grandparents’ devoutly Christian households where drugs were something people only did on ABC afterschool specials. Eventually, he got shipped away to the clink. Can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Occupational hazard. 

But those kinds of encounters are just supposed to make for colorful tales to share with your friends when you’re swapping dating war stories. Hollywood, our families, heck, even our religious leaders, tell us that there’s a man waiting specifically for us out there. And somehow, someway, the planets will align to make sure that you and he bump into each other.

So there you are at the neighborhood laundromat, hair done, nails done, everything did, because you refuse to be caught looking shabby in case The One shows up. He may be at Wal-mart. He may be at the A&P. He may be the guy who bristled past you to get on the subway first (then again, maybe not). But nothing happens with any of the dudes in any of those places -- and there’s certainly no harps, fireworks, or choruses of hallelujah. So you hold out.  

Mr. Something to Do in the Meanwhile has shown up. Mr. He’ll Do for the Time Being made an appearance. This dude who’s supposed to be The One? I’m over here singing my grammatically incorrect Jennifer Hudson tune at the top of my lungs: Where you at? Is he in a bunker somewhere? On some covert spy mission? Oh, I get it. He’s in the FBI. Or he’s in the tenth grade and I’ve just got to be patient. Real patient.

Truth is, The One might not be anywhere. The One might be a figment of social invention, something forced upon us to create this flowery, fabulous, romantic notion that the heavens will part and there will stand one amazing man who runs to us across a field of blooming poppies with his stuff together, his credit on point, and his desire to be married a top priority.

In the meantime, we’re shooting down guys who may not be this storied superhero of love that we’re waiting for -- but they’ll make darn good husbands and life mates. I don’t know about you, but I’m tucking my storybook away.

Do you believe there’s just one man who’s perfect for every woman? Or do you think we can be happy spending a lifetime with someone who’s compatible but may not be The One?

Image via he(art)geek/Flickr

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