As well as working with couples, I often work with individuals (in fact probably 40% of my work is with individuals). These are generally people who are in a relationship and want to work on some of their own issues, or work on issues I the relationship but from their own perspective. But often they are people “in between” relationships and who believe their singleness is an issue in one form or another.
Leaving aside the issue of why being single is an issue, what I am often asked is “why can’t I meet Mr/Ms/Mx right? I’m 27/36/54 and still haven’t found that one special person who is out there. What’s wrong with me?”
Well, my deluded little chipmunk, what’s wrong with you is you’ve bought into the mythical idea that we all have one special person, wandering the world waiting to bump into you, who just happens to be their special person. It’s a myth perpetuated by Hallmark, Disney and any one of a thousand tawdry, second-rate lyricists.
In order for there to be a “one special person”, that person has to be perfect, according to your magical list of shoulds and oughts. Of what you deem to be the right qualities in a person. (But let’s be honest, what are you looking for? Honesty, loyalty, shared values – aren’t these things we are all looking for and all capable of showing? Would anyone actually look for a dishonest, disloyal person with opposite values?)
And if you start a relationship with your magical list of special qualities, and the partner fails on one of them, what then? Do they have to be 100% perfect, or will 97% do? Are they allowed to be 80% at times of stress, but for no longer than 3 weeks? And what of your imperfections? Do you both have to be 100% all the time, or can you take it in turns to have an off week? And what if your 100% now changes, and what you thought you wanted/ didn’t want is different at 50 than it was at 20? (Guess what, it will be!)
Rather than looking for the “special one”, why not take time to acknowledge and luxuriate in the infinite variety of human nature? Enjoy the ups – and downs – of meeting right people, wrong people and mediocre people. Enjoy the dazzling myriad of human fuckery as the rest of us muddle through life, growing and learning with each new encounter. When you meet Mr/Ms/Mx right and fall in love, it will be because in that place and at that time this was the best person to mesh with your foibles and idiosyncrasies, not because they were some pre-ordained spirit waiting to join with you. Sometimes this will last, sometimes it won’t. But that’s fine too. Because you now know something you didn’t know before.
And approaching each encounter in a spirit of open learning and experimentation, rather than a plastic wrapped pre-prepared ready meal of expectations and demands, will allow you to enter a relationship in which you can learn and grow together. And surely that is going to be more solid than one where your partner is struggling to live up to your magical list of requirements.
Go forth, experiment, learn, grow, fuck it up, learn some more, and give your partner the chance to do the same. You won’t find that in a Hallmark valentine’s card.