You’d be hard pressed to find a more virginal citizen of the 21st Century than Penny. During college, she stated that she would keep her V plates firmly intact, and save herself for ‘The One’. Her friends admired her rock solid boundaries. Would be lovers, depending on their bitterness levels, either placed her on a sanctified pedestal, or compared her to a certain food cooling kitchen unit. Whatever people’s stance, Penny stuck to her guns. She was adamant that only upon meeting ‘The One’ would she hand over the keys to her most preserved possession: her chastity.
At the tender age of 22, in walked Michael, a deep thinking Phd student. Over picnics, opera viewings, and riverside walks, Penny declared her quest for her male version of the holy grail at an end. Michael was ‘The One’. Their love was consummated one evening under the stars, and that was that. Juliet had found her Romeo.
Years later I caught up with Penny over coffee. She was still with Michael, and wishing to escape wistfully into someone else’s paradisical world, I asked about their lives. After a long pause, her face fell. She told me that Michael had been unfaithful twice, and they were working hard to put their relationship back on track. Penny was doing this by organising couples counselling, having long chats, making quality time, and Michael was doing this by agreeing not to move out. Nice. While aching to implore her to cut her losses, and shake her into seeing this guy had transformed into the ultimate douchebag, I could see that Penny was too attached to the notion of ‘The One’ to draw the line. Despite the fact that Michael’s idea of ‘The One’ meant, one for Saturday, one for late work nights, and one to clean and cook, this did not prise her away from placing all her eggs in one pretty shoddy basket, and though there were many better baskets available, her eggs were staying put.
It begged me to question whether this age old notion of ‘The One’ is actually less self preserving and more self sabotaging. Does it lead us to discard our boundaries and make allowances for deal breaking behaviour? According to Debra Berndt, healthy love comes with boundaries fully installed:
When we afford someone ‘The One’ status, are we affording someone unconditional love at the expense of loving ourselves unconditionally? Should ‘The One’ status actually be preserved for the one person we know will be on our side through thick and thin? Ourselves?