Why So Many Can't Find "the One"

Have we created a false expectation for romance?

“Is there 'one' person out there who I am supposed to marry? If so, how am I supposed to know when I meet them?”

When it comes to relationships, this is by far the most popular topic for conversation. In the Christian community, it goes even beyond the idea of soul mates, and supposes God Himself has hand-selected your life partner.

I have to admit, it’s a legitimate question. I have spent a good deal of time mulling over it myself. In fact, ask my friends. Nine times out of 10 I’m the one to start the discussion. The idea of "The One" is intriguing, popular, romantic and convenient. We read about it, sing about it, look for it, even pray for it.

But I’m going to ask us, collectively, to quit talking so much about "The One." Way too much time has been wasted already. Here are five reasons we need to just stop having this conversation.

1. It focuses too much on the other and not enough on ourselves.

We’re wasting so much time asking, “How do I know if he is the one?” that we forget to check and make sure we are “The One.” When it comes to love and dating, who we are becoming should absolutely, unequivocally be our primary focus. Love is not motivated by selfishness but propelled by generosity and outward thinking.

Let’s redirect our mental and emotional energy to growing in faith, maturity and integrity, becoming the men and women God has created us to be. The rest will settle itself.

2. It causes unnecessary conflict between the “heart” and the “head” part of the decision.

Most of the time when I hear a married friend describe meeting “The One,” they talk about a “when-you-know-you-know” kind of a feeling, which is good. That feeling exists. The problem? You can have that feeling for someone who isn’t “The One” you marry! Those feelings, however authentic they may be at times, are a fleeting and flexible foundation.

Choosing a spouse (or falling in love for that matter) is not a battle between our heads and our hearts. It’s a beautiful convergence of the two. We need both to make a good decision. Let’s not pit them against one another.

3. It gets us stuck.

If there is only “One” person out there who we are supposed to be with, it raises questions like: What if my spouse dies? Or leaves me for another man? Or what if I’m engaged to “The One” and he decides he doesn’t want to marry me?

Was he/she not the one? Or do I have more than one “The One”? Did God change His mind?

God is an infinitely creative Author, so it is no wonder our love stories (and life stories) would unfold in infinitely creative ways. Let’s not put limits on God’s ability to work in creative ways in our lives.

4. It tempts us to abandon personal responsibility.

I’ve heard “The One” idea used more than once as an excuse to be passive and timid, or just plain unavailable. I’m not suggesting we be someone who we aren’t, but here’s the thing:

God isn’t going to send “The One” to knock on your front door.

You play a role in your love story, too, and it probably isn’t going to be easy. God is growing you during this time as much as He is your future spouse. When you rid yourself of "The One" thinking, you realize your responsibility in carefully, prayerfully and proactively choosing someone to be with. Don't become preoccupied with this pursuit, but if you believe love and marriage is a part of your future, don't ignore it either.

5. It puts too much pressure on our dates or potential dates.

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The idea of “The One” makes it easy to adopt a “Prince Charming” or “Dream Girl” mentality, where you believe some perfect someone is going to come along and meet your every need. No man or woman can live up to that standard, and if you expect them to, everyone is going to be disappointed.

Romance exists, and it is beautiful, but it is not a fairy tale. When it comes to love and companionship, are you waiting on fate, or walking in faith?

The point of love and marriage is to fully commit to one person, yes. But it is only in your hands and God's timing that a someone becomes your one. 

Ally Spotts is a 20-something writer, runner, teacher, dreamer, thinker and reader living in Portland, OR. She keeps a blog about things that interest her, including faith, running, travel adventures and relationships & dating. She is also currently working on a book about chasing her dreams on a 50-State Road Trip. This article was adapted from her blog with permission.

What do you think about “The One” conversation? How can we have more productive conversations about this idea?


Steve Cornell


Steve Cornell commented…

200,000 couples annually divorce before their third anniversary in the USA. Many feel anywhere from scared to cynical regarding marriage. Over the last 20 years of teaching a class on how to make the marriage decision, I've observed growing skepticism among singles. There is general truth in the saying that dating is meant to conceal information that marriage will later reveal. This is one reason why premarital (or even pre-engagement) counseling could serve as a catalyst of confidence for a couple entering marriage.

Some of the resources I offer are available here: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/pre-marriage-resources/

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Stephanie commented…

Great article... I was just talking about this subject last night. It's a challenge, for sure, to look past the idea of "the one." I've learned in my decade and a half of dating that there is no way that there is and always has been only ONE person for me.

I think at certain times in my life (with the specific path I was on, who I was at the time, and who I would be on that course of life) there was a specific "one" had I continued down that path. I think as God grows us on our journeys, He changes the desires of our hearts to align with something new. As we mature and deepen in our faith, I think what He has in store for us evolves over time. If I go left or right, each decision has different outcome, and God is ready at every turn.

My recent (now ex-) boyfriend talked a lot about the idea of a "soul mate," which is something that always made me cringe. It is a beautiful, romantic idea, but at 31 years old, if I believed in one soul mate, I'd be locked in a crazy bin by now... for my own sanity and the sake of my growing faith, I have to believe that God wouldn't leave me hanging like that. I think the love I've felt in past relationships was very real, and at the time, that's what God had for me. Had life not evolved as it has, I could have ended up happy with someone from my past. However, God wanted something more for me (or so I have to believe). It doesn't lessen the realness of past loves, it just builds anticipation for a love that ideally doesn't end in pain or heartbreak.



Éowyn Lewis


Éowyn Lewis commented…

Very true. There is no one person, if there were we'd all me mixed up already, and in any case it's not Biblical. "The ONE" is the person you marry. You have to discover if you are being the best you can be, and if that particular person is an acceptable spouse for you in God's eyes.

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