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Here is an ode to all the ones who are ‘not the one’. Even the relationships that don’t happen have something to teach us.
A lot is said and made of finding ‘The One’; the only one that exists – for each of us. There are believers in the concept of soul mates and those who believe that there may be nearly six people that each of us on this planet has a shot at finding – people like us, our doppelgangers, or those that make hearts skip a beat and knees go weaker.
Three decades and several moons and men later, I have to admit that I haven’t quite figured out or found the path to finding ‘The One’, but what this has meant is a treasure trove of experience while meandering through the maze of the ‘not quite’s.
In no particular order of priority, these are some of those prototypes:
The way we were: There are those that we might like because they remind us of something we once were – the carefree younger self, the utopian ‘change the world every minute’ type with a baggage full of causes, or the ‘not in a hurry to get anywhere’ (in my case, the quintessential drifters) – the kind that seem to be so comforting in a world full of over-glorification of the busy. Those who seem to have found bliss minus the pressure of accomplishments.
Here’s the catch though- you may no longer be any of these. As the great Mariah Gordon-Dyke put it,
“You remind me
of the parts of myself
that I will never
have a chance
Nostalgia does not a relationship make! You need to find someone that understands who you are today and what your aspirations for tomorrow may be like. There’s a name I have for this type- ‘They who are the way we were’.
Right personality, wrong character: Priceless wisdom from a precious friend had me reflecting on this one. The gregarious guy, the one who is oh-so-intellectually compatible, the one you connect with in a room full of strangers and mistake as the ‘right package’? You are lucky if he’s the one, but the same one might turn out to be a misogynist, with contrasting value systems that don’t work for you as you get to know him better.
Spontaneity could mean adventure if you’re lucky and unreliability if you aren’t so lucky. A classic case of the right cover and wrong contents. I dare say that one is most disappointed with this type, for they seem to be so close to the real thing. These, I like to call the ‘could have beens’.
Those that we find easy to empathize with: We are such suckers for those who are bad at the same things that we are, aren’t we? The technologically challenged, low emotional IQ, gob-smacked when it comes to intimate expressions or whatever is a weakness unique to us? Bad idea!
When you are out on the road with someone just as poor with directions as you are or unable to fix a flat tire, irate tempers fly and very soon you are likely to curse him/her for being no better than what you are. My wise friend and pop psychologists alike feel that this is a common phenomenon, whereby we are attracted to those with similar weaknesses and end up resenting them sooner rather than later, pretty much the same way as we hate our own flaws. A case of ‘similarity breeds contempt’!
That inexplicable tza-tza-zu: Now, this is a tricky one. This can turn out to be the brilliant trailer to a rather lackluster film. That feeling of your stomach turning inside out, sweet anticipation and a special fluttering of the heart for a certain someone? The feeling that you tried hard to have for that nice, gentle well-behaved guy but could never generate? Great that you felt it, now stop! And run!
What seems like a sign of the ‘must be the one’ and holds promise of everlasting natural chemistry may be just that- tza tza tzu. It does not guarantee love, trust, compatibility, or understanding. The rest is still work and you know what, the tza- tza-tzu makes everything else fade in comparison and most tragic of all, makes you lose your reality orientation. Given that the lights will come on at some stage in the relationship, if you find nothing better than what you started out with. Sorry lady, this isn’t the one. Aptly termed the ‘If onlys’…(fill it up as you like).
There is a priceless purpose that the ‘not quite’s’ serve.
They let you reset the mind counter afresh every time albeit with greater clarity. Knowing that what you wanted (or thought you did) did not really work can be a hugely liberating feeling.
Sounds like a paradox? Let me attempt to simplify.
It is like spring cleaning for the soul, as you now know so much more about what you don’t want. That is the inevitable starting point to finding out what you really want.
It is true that in the end it might take no more than two loving hearts that are willing to go all the way for each other for a lasting relationship, but till that happens, I recommend a little practice of what I now like to call the – ‘when its heady, and you seem ready, pause before you go’!
‘Love’ hanging by a thread image via Shutterstock
Sustainability professional by day, dreamer by night..sometimes a poet, occasional wordsmith and philosopher,mostly
Beautiful post Sumana and I agree to what you said – “It is like spring cleaning for the soul, as you now know so much more about what you don’t want. That is the inevitable starting point to finding out what you really want.”
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