Romance is a beautiful concept central to the human condition, but the romance culture we’ve created and the way our society views love is more damaging than uplifting. Since the fairy tales of old, western civilization’s conceptualization of romance has been tied to the idea of a ‘one true love’ that will inevitably come into your life with enough patience and hard work, and will never leave you once it arrives.
First off, the current Earth population as of April 2018 is an estimated 7.6 billion people. Are we truly supposed to believe that one, only one and exactly one of those people is ‘the one’ we are meant to end up with and spend the rest of our lives together? What if your supposed soul mate is from a developing nation a hemisphere away and has no way of ever plausibly meeting you and never does, do you just miss out? If you fall in love with someone else, does that mean your feelings aren’t genuine, or that you’re settling?
Love is indeed real, I’m not writing this out of sour grapes. But the concept of the one true destined fairy-tale love just isn’t real, and can be psychologically toxic. When you buy into this idea of being destined to be with someone, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling entitled to have someone or feeling obligated to stay with someone, leading to abusive relationships.
Our popular culture doesn’t help matters either, with movie after movie involving a hopeless romantic obsessing over a woman who wants nothing to do with him until she randomly begins to reciprocate his feelings, despite the fact he hasn’t changed at all. This can lead to people refusing to let things go or leave people alone as society teaches them that if you are unrelenting in your pursuit of romance they’ll eventually come around no matter what because it’s “meant to be” and they just don’t know it yet. In extreme cases, it’s this sort of entitlement, destiny-focused mindset that leads to sexual assault or honor killings when someone feels snubbed by someone that was “supposed” to love them.
Even in more mundane situations, we read every month about the guy who refuses to stop playing piano until his girlfriend takes him back (this happened, look it up) or whatever latest story about denial is trending. Realistically that’s what a culture of ‘true love’ leads to, a culture of denial of the idea that your love might not be true. It also leads to very real emotional pain and mental strain for those that lose a relationship they thought was going to last forever. This pain does not justify the heinous things some people do after being broken up with, but a bad case heartbreak can still cause a lot of undue stress that should be examined in greater detail.
There are obvious reasons why so many people buy into the myth of true love. The idea of an invisible red string ensuring you will eventually meet someone, someday, can be comfort for a lot of people who have fallen on bad romantic luck. But in reality, it’s a plain unhealthy concept that leads to unhealthy ideals of romance and love, and it’s not an idea our entire society should constantly be pushing.
Love is beautiful, and it’s something almost everyone wants. There’s nothing wrong with looking for someone to spend your life with. But that’s just it — you should be looking for some one you could love for the rest of your life, not the one, because the idea of there only being one is a harmful myth.