Forget everything you know about finding ‘The One’

So, you’ve heard of The One, right? That single person with whom you’re destined to spend the rest of your life. But a new book written, by psychiatrist Dr. George Blair-West and relationship coach Jiveny Blair-West, is challenging us to think differently about love. 

It’s one of the oldest Hollywood tropes in the book. The idea of finding The One, the Mr Big to your Carrie, Noah to your Allie, the list goes on (nevermind how highly dysfunctional these relationships end up being?). But a new book is challenging this traditional idea of love, arguing that the notion of ‘The One’ has led to escalating divorce rates, unhappy relationships, and ultimately a life of romantic unfulfillment. Would you buy a car based on the theory of finding ‘The One’? Of course not.

Why are we so set on this idea of ‘The One’?

“The idea of ‘the one’ is part of a pervasive mindset we call ‘romantic destiny’,” explain psychiatrist Dr. George and his daughter, relationship coach Jiveny Blair-West.

They’re authors of the new book How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life, which argues that there’s more to forging a healthy relationship than what Hollywood would have us believe. Which, let’s be honest, should sound surprising. But in fact a lot of us, whether consciously or not, model our real-life relationships on those we’ve seen on the big screen.

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The biggest problem with the romantic destiny mindset is that once you find ‘The One’, you’re not just set for life, but you do not need to work so much on the relationship as ‘all you need is love’.”

Yes, with our heart set on fate rather than our brain set on compatibility, we’re entering into relationships that might have been doomed from the start.

Indeed, the phrase ‘falling in love’, the authors argue, “denotes a passivity where a universal force, like gravity, does all the work.

“Clinically, when you look at what brings marriages undone, you see that there were warning signs from the outset that people could have thought about well before they got married.”

Hate to break it to you, but love isn’t enough. Instead, the Blair-Wests suggest a shift in thinking: instead of finding The One, it’s choosing The One.

The research

While looking over research conducted by American psychologist Professor Robert Epstein relating to arranged marriages, aka ‘manufactured love’, the authors found something surprising: that arranged marriages have a much lower divorce rate (10 percent) and rated their love much more highly compared to marriages by selection.

It suggests that there are quite different forces at work that are built around two factors – intimacy and commitment.

“The research into ‘manufacturing’ love tells us that rather than ‘falling in love,’ we need to build intimacy and commitment into a relationship,” say the Blair-Wests.

“Then, what we call ‘true love’, will follow. This true love is what lifelong relationships are built around. The building of intimacy first happens from spending time together and being vulnerable.”

So what about attraction?

Attraction is still important, but when it comes to forging a successful, long-term relationship, “we marry people, not their profile pictures.”

This is one of the biggest problems with online dating or apps because an “over-emphasis” is placed on careful curation and potentially a distorted representation of the self.

“Many of us know from dating in real life that there is more to attraction than good looks, and that a good match can come with unexpected packaging,” say the book’s authors.

“At the end of the day, how you feel together is much more important than how you look together – social media is confusing this truth greatly.”

The Blair-Wests also argue that you should be mindful to avoid those intense feelings of passion because they’re usually quick to fizzle out. The people that we are wildly attracted to, and intoxicated by, are labelled ‘9s’ and ‘10s’ on the scale of infatuation.

“So many people go hunting for a fire when what they need is a flame… When the passion is at 9 or 10, it can be a warning sign (and often a repeated pattern for some people),” they say.

“We are often quick to project our perfect future on to these people without really getting to know the person we’re building this fantasy around.”

Again, it goes back to actively building foundations that will sustain the relationship beyond a physical connection.

The authors note: “If love is not enough, and sadly it isn’t, then initial attraction is definitely not enough.”

How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life by psychiatrist Dr. George Blair-West and relationships expert Jiveny Blair-West is out now through Hachette (rrp $32.95).