At our recent Whole Life Symposium, Lisa Anderson, director of Boundless and young adults at Focus on the Family US, and author of The Dating Manifesto, addressed some common challenges and concerns that singles face. One such issue was the notion of finding “the one”, which says that there is only one perfect match for us and a relationship with this person should flow smoothly. Is there really such a person out there for each of us?
The idea of finding “the one” is so pervasive in our culture because we have inherited a Hollywood script. Romantic comedies teach us that love happens in 90 minutes within two scenarios. The first scenario is, you meet someone, lock eyes with them, instantly fall in love, and get hitched somehow. The other scenario is, you start out hating someone, but in the end, you realise this is the person meant for you and you fall in love (like in Pride and Prejudice).
The trouble with finding “the one”
However, the problem with trying to find a one and only soul mate is that it sets you up for one of two failures. The first is absolute paralysis. I know so many people who cannot move from dating into marriage. They have met and dated this great person, and there are nice things about them, but they wonder, “Are they ‘the one’?” They think, “I like her, but there are other great people out there, too.” They are fearful they are going to make the wrong choice, so they do not decisively move toward commitment or marriage.
Another problem is when you find someone you think is surely “the one”, you think the relationship is supposed to be perfect and smooth. What happens then is that when you hit the first relational bump in the road, you think, “Maybe this person wasn’t ‘the one.’ If he/she was ‘the one’, this should have been much easier, so maybe I chose wrongly”. What likely follows is a breakup or divorce.
There is no Scriptural basis for “the one”
Ultimately, this concept of “the one” is problematic because it has no Scriptural basis. In Scripture, people were going to wells to find their wives and hiring people to go out and look for potential spouses for them (Genesis 24). They were not just sitting around, and neither should we.
In fact, we never do this in other areas of our lives. If we need a job, we do not sit on a street and wait for a HR executive to hire us. We network, put together a portfolio and go for interviews. We are extremely intentional about it. Yet for the second most important decision in our lives (the first being our decision to follow Christ), we believe we should leave it up to chance or some mystical experience. However, there is no evidence that God does it that way.
“The one” is chosen by you
I have an ex-colleague who was “kind of” dating this woman named Beth, but he did not quite acknowledge it, because he wanted to keep his options open. Finally, one of his mentors came up to him and said, “You need to figure out what is going on here. Where is this relationship going?” And my friend said “Well, I don’t know. It might be going somewhere. I’ll just wait it out.” In response, his mentor told him: “You either fish or cut bait because you’re wasting her time. She doesn’t know where she stands and there’s no timeline in your head. You’re either in or out.”
My friend mentioned that his words were so helpful. He said that he looked at Beth and realised he could actually marry and build a life with her. It was so freeing because now he knew he did not have to keep searching, and to have to keep his options open. He knew that she loved the Lord, she was passionate about the same few things, and they could grow in life together. And that was what mattered.
What this illustrates is that (even if you think in terms of a conservative estimate) there are hundreds of people in the world who have a common faith and can serve the Lord with you, whom you can be attracted to, marry and build a family with. You just need to pick one of them, cut the clutter, and commit to that one person, and you now have your “one” that you can focus on for the rest of your life.
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