ONEitis is paralysis. You cease to mature, you cease to move, you cease to be you.
There is no ONE. This is the soulmate myth. There are some good Ones and some bad Ones, but there is no ONE. Anyone telling you anything else is selling you something. There are LOTS of ‘special someones’ out there for you, just ask the divorced/widowed person who’s remarried after their “soulmate” has died or moved on.
This is what trips people up about the soul-mate myth, it is this fantasy that we all at least in some way share an idealization of – that there is ONE perfect mate for each of us, and as soon as the planets align and fate takes it’s course we’ll know that we’re ‘intended’ for each other. And while this may make for a gratifying romantic comedy plot, it’s hardly a realistic way to plan your life. In fact it’s usually paralyzing.
What I find even more fascinating is how common the idea is (mostly for guys) that a nuts & bolts view of life should be trumped by this fantasy in the area of inter-sexual relationships. Guys who would otherwise recognize the value of understanding psychology, biology, sociology, evolution, business, engineering, etc. and the interplay we see these take place in our lives on a daily basis, are some of the first guys to become violently opposed to the idea that maybe there isn’t ‘someone for everyone’ or that there are a lot more ONEs out there that could meet or exceed the criteria we subconsciously set for them to be the ONE. I think it comes off as nihilistic or this dread that maybe their ego investment in this belief is false- it’s like saying God is dead to the deeply religious. It’s just too terrible to contemplate that there maybe no ONE or there maybe several ONEs to spend their lives with. This western romanticized mythology is based on the premise that there is only ONE perfect mate for any single individual and as much as a lifetime can and should be spent in constant search of this ‘soulmate.’ So strong and so pervasive is this myth in our collective society that it has become akin to a religious statement and in fact has been integrated into many religious doctrines as feminization of western culture has spread.
I think there’s been a mischaracterization of ONEitis. It’s necessary to differentiate between a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and a lopsided ONEitis based relationship. I’ve had more than a few guys seeking my advice, or challenging my take on ONEitis, essentially ask me for permission to accept ONEitis as legitimate monogamy. In my estimation ONEitis is an unhealthy psychological dependency that is the direct result of the continuous socialization of the soulmate myth in pop culture. What’s truly frightening is that ONEitis has become associated with being a healthy normative aspect of an LTR or marriage.
I come to the conclusion that ONEitis is based in sociological roots, not only due to it being a statement of personal belief, but by the degree to which this ideology is disseminated and mass marketed in popular culture through media, music, literature, movies, etc. Dating services like eHarmony shamelessly marketeer and exploit exactly the insecurities that this dynamic engenders in people desperately searching for the ONE “they were intended for.” The idea that men possess a natural capacity for protection, provisioning and monogamy has merit from both a social and bio-psychological standpoint, but a ONEitis psychosis is not a byproduct of it. Rather, I would set it apart from this healthy protector/provider dynamic since ONEitis essentially sabotages what our natural propensities would otherwise filter.
ONEitis is insecurity run amok while a person is single, and potentially paralyzing when coupled with the object of that ONEitis in an LTR. The same neurotic desperation that drives a person to settle for their ONE whether healthy or unhealthy is the same insecurity that paralyzes them from abandoning a damaging relationship – This is their ONE and how could they ever live without them? Or, they’re my ONE, but all I need is to fix myself or fix them to have my idealized relationship. And this idealization of a relationship is at the root of ONEitis. With such a limiting, all-or-nothing binary approach to searching for ONE needle in the haystack, and investing emotional effort over the course of a lifetime, how do we mature into a healthy understanding of what that relationship should really entail? The very pollyanna, idealized relationship – the “happily ever after” – that belief in a ONE promotes as an ultimate end, is thwarted and contradicted by the costs of the constant pursuit of the ONE for which they’ll settle for. After the better part of a lifetime is invested in this ideology, how much more difficult will it be to come to the realization that the person they’re with isn’t their ONE? To what extents will a person go to in order to protect a lifetime of this ego investment?
At some point in a ONEitis relationship one participant will establish dominance based on the powerlessness that this ONEitis necessitates. There is no greater agency for a woman than to know beyond doubt that she is the only source of a man’s need for sex and intimacy. ONEitis only cements this into the understanding of both parties. For a man who believes that the emotionally and psychologically damaging relationship he has ego-invested himself is with the only person in his lifetime he’s ever going to be compatible with, there is nothing more paralyzing in his maturation. The same of course holds true for women, and this is why we shake our heads when the beautiful HB 9 goes chasing back to her abusive and indifferent Jerk boyfriend, because she believes he is her ONE and the only source of security available to her. Hypergamy may be her root imperative for sticking with him, but it’s the soul-mate myth, the fear of the “ONE that got away” that makes for the emotional investment.
The definition of Power is not financial success, status or influence over others, but the degree to which we have control over our own lives. Subscribing to the soulmate mythology necessitates that we recognize powerlessness in this arena of our lives. Better I think it would be to foster a healthy understanding that there is no ONE. There are some good Ones and there are some bad Ones, but there is no ONE.