The Myth of “The One”

“I think he might be the one!”

Aren’t we all waiting to get to that moment in a relationship? There is this concept that has been propagated through an abundance of romantic comedies as well as our American Christian culture that we all have one perfect soul mate out there somewhere. But I want to propose that this idea of “the one” is a myth and is an idea that is actually bringing more harm than good to those who embrace it.

First, let’s talk about what I mean when I say “The One.” There is a right way and a wrong way to view this. As Christians, we know that Psalm 139 says “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Because God is aware of what will happen throughout the course of our life, he obviously knows who we will marry if we get married. This is 100% Biblical and a correct way to think. If this is how you see “the one,” then this article is not for you.

But there is another, more common way that “the one” is viewed that is not Biblical. It defines “the one” as the singular other human on the planet who can complete you, satisfy all your longings, and the only one with whom you can have a successful marriage. We see this concept in movies like Jerry Maguire (the famous “You complete me” line), and Twilight (“You’re my only reason to stay alive.”). This concept of “the one” is what I am addressing in this article. The idea of hoping in one person to complete and satisfy you might not seem that bad on the surface, but underneath it results in numerous problems in marriage and singleness.


The Impact in Marriage

Belief in the one has taken a biblical view of God’s sovereignty and distorted it, implying that there is only one other human being on the planet that we can have a fulfilling and successful marriage with. This causes us to place our hope for a successful marriage in who we marry instead of in Jesus. This unfairly puts incredible pressure on our spouse to satisfy us and brings sure disappointment when they don’t live up to our expectations.

If your hope for a satisfying marriage is based on meeting the perfect person, what happens when 3 years in that person isn’t making you feel as wonderful as you hoped? They immediately become the one to blame for your unhappiness. “If you would just love me like you used to when we were dating, I’d be happier!” Marriage can quickly turn into a finger-pointing blame game if your basis for happiness is your perfect soulmate. Even if you are the two most compatible people on the planet, you will still have conflict because we are all sinners and self-centered by default.

The ramifications of this outlook can be enormous. If you become unhappy in marriage, you may convince yourself you made a mistake and your spouse wasn’t actually the one. This could potentially lead you to justify divorce simply because of unhappiness. Or if you don’t divorce, you may live under a constant feeling that you have settled for something less than you deserve leading to deep-rooted bitterness toward your spouse.

Secondly, the one concept encourages a self-centered view of marriage. Biblically, marriage should be all about the glory of God, just as every aspect of our lives should be (see 1 Corin 10:31). We should be striving for a partnership in marriage that is about bringing God glory and seeking Him together. But when you look to your spouse for satisfaction, meaning and worth, it immediately turns your view inward, instead of upward to Jesus. It promotes an attitude of “what can I get” from my spouse instead of “what can I give.” As Christians, we are called not to be served by our spouse but to serve them, just like the Jesus we follow (Matt 20:28).


The Impact in Singleness

The one mentality also affects those who are single. Believing there is only one human who can meet your needs can cause great anxiety and fear of missing that person or choosing the wrong person. You may be dating someone who loves Jesus, someone you could have a great marriage with, but doubt he is the one. This may cause you to be obsessed with thoughts like, “what if there is someone better out there for me?” Or if you aren’t dating, you might be tempted to always keep your eye out for the one instead of shifting all your gaze toward Jesus, where it should be.

Another problem is that this mindset encourages single people to look to their feelings to determine whether to date or marry someone. “I just feel like he is the one!” “I think we may get married, but I just don’t feel like I expected I would when I met the one.” The main problem here is this: Feelings are NEVER a solid foundation for a relationship, or for anything else for that matter. Our feelings can change in a matter of hours and often aren’t a picture of reality. Yet I find that this is usually the first and greatest basis people give for dating someone.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad to have all those butterfly-like feelings. There are many of my friends who are married to a man they had these type of feelings toward early on. But it isn’t always the case, neither does it need to be a prerequisite for a good relationship or marriage. In either situation, the point remains: feelings are never a solid foundation for a relationship or marriage because they change. It is only a matter of time before that amazing person you were sure was the one doesn’t make you feel quite as wonderful. And if the basis for dating/marrying that person was how you felt at the time, then when those feelings go away it will shake your whole relationship.

The one idea doesn’t just promote judging relationships by our feelings, but also causes us to feel entitled to certain romantic expectations in our relationships. Sometimes, from movies or our own imaginations, we can have incredibly lofty expectations of what it will be like to finally meet the one: how he or she will treat us, how he will propose, how she will look, etc. So, what if you are dating someone and he doesn’t do anything for your 6 month anniversary? Or he proposes over dinner at chili’s instead of the elaborate evening you had hoped for? Or he doesn’t look at all like you thought, or heaven forbid he is the same height or shorter than you? If you’ve embraced the one mentality, you may doubt your entire relationship based on these unmet expectations. But in all reality, you can have a successful marriage with someone who proposes over dinner or someone who proposes on national television. You can have a successful marriage with someone who is taller than or shorter than you. These things don’t make successful marriages!


The Biggest Problem

But more than all these reasons I’ve just mentioned, the greatest problem with this idea of the one is that it tends to promote idolatry. Let me explain. Often, there is so much expectation wrapped up in the idea of meeting the perfect man or woman that you begin to look to this person above all else for fulfillment. Whether it is your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend or an imaginary future someone, looking to them for meaning more than Jesus makes them an idol. Anything you feel you need to be happy besides Jesus is an idol. Ultimately, if anyone is truly the one for us, it is Jesus. He is the only one we should look to with hope and expectation to meet our needs, satisfy our souls, and give us purpose. For all else is rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him! (Phil 3:7-9)

To recap, if you truly embrace the idea of the one as defined in this article, the result will be anxiety and fear in singleness and/or dating, an incorrect basis for evaluating potential spouses, a self-focused view of marriage leading to disappointment and potentially divorce, and ultimately and most importantly idolatry.


How to Have a Successful Marriage

So if we refuse to embrace this concept of the one, what is an appropriate way to evaluate marriage partners? That starts with an appropriate view of what it takes to have a successful marriage. A successful marriage is found through two people, whose hope is in Jesus, who are committed to the covenant they made and consider the other person as better than themselves. This is only made possible through Jesus. He is the only one who can fill us up, satisfy our souls’ need for love and purpose. He gives us the ability to die to ourselves and consider our spouse as more important than ourselves. As we seek Him and are filled up by Him each day, we are enabled to look to our marriage with the view of “what can I give?” As we study and learn of His faithfulness to sinners like us, we are able to choose to keep our own marriage covenant when our spouse isn’t fulfilling their end of the deal. Jesus is our hope for a good marriage!

Honestly, I believe you can take any two people who love Jesus, have their eyes on Him for fulfillment, and who long to keep their covenant and serve each other, and they will have a successful marriage! It doesn’t matter how “compatible” they are, how much they have in common, or even how strong of feelings they have toward one another. Those things do not make a successful marriage, a love for Jesus and His glory above all else does.

So, instead of asking the question “Is he the one? Is she the one?”, we should ask “Can I have a God-glorifying, Jesus-centered marriage with him/her?” Rather than looking for someone that can meet all our needs, we should instead look for someone who loves Jesus more than anything and seeks to glorify God in all they do. These things applied in the realm of marriage will make it successful, satisfying, and fulfilling. Let’s choose today to change the norm in how we view relationships and marriage. Let’s put Jesus back in the center of it all!

**updated on Nov. 1**

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/blmiers2/6919282123/”>blmiers2</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

36 Comments

  1. Thank you for your writing. Reading your articles has been such a blessing to me. I am single and have recently had a stillbirth. I am a Christian lady that erred in relating with a non Christian man, that left me alone and pregnant. I was looking for Christian encouragement regarding enduring child loss and desiring marriage. I have hit both birds with one stone in finding your blog. May God bless you for doing this.

  2. You have shed a ray of sunshine into the forum. Thanks!

  3. Susan

    Wow Kelly, you have nailed it again! Thank you for your exhortations regarding “the one.” I love all your writing and I was wondering if you have written a book yet? If not you totally should impart your wisdom! May God continue to use you! You are a godly example of what a woman should be!

  4. you’re actually a good webmaster. The site loading pace is amazing. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a
    excellent job on this subject!

  5. This is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!

  6. Bob

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long)
    so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m
    thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but
    I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for rookie blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

  7. I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. This
    article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  8. […] If you answered yes honestly to all of these then why not get married? If your not getting married because you haven’t found, “the one” you need to read http://sharelkaye.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-myth-of-the-one/ […]

  9. Reblogged this on sharelkaye and commented:
    Amen. I’ve been wanting to blog about this, but after reading this one I feel like this says it all. So thankful for a God who fills all our needs and desires through Christ!

  10. There was divine appointment between me and this blog post a few minutes ago. hahaha God works in such fantastic ways – this is unexpectedly exactly what i needed to hear and just happened to come across it. Thank you for sharing, the Lord is using your words for grander things than you are aware of! 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you very much for this encouraging post. God Bless.

  12. Esme

    What an awesome post…recently found out you had this blog and reading this today was “God Sent”. Looking forward to going back and reading your previous posts and for future ones!

  13. Anonymous

    Thanks Kelly for posting this! I am going to share this with my discipleship group!

  14. “The Myth of The One | Kelly Needham” was in fact a wonderful blog
    post. If merely there was far more blogs like this particular one on the
    actual internet. Nonetheless, thanks for your time,
    Francesca

  15. […] 2) The Myth of “The One” – Kelly Needham (Jimmy Needham’s wife)http://kellyneedham.com/2012/10/07/the-myth-of-the-one/ […]

  16. jenna j

    i loved this post. am happily married coming up on 4 years but this world is just SO filled with novels, movies, that are filled to the brim with things like you are talking… a happiness that lasts for some 6 months, some 3 years, some until the one spouse does the one thing that will tear them apart. suddenly in a moment that ‘never ending love’ and the promise of ‘until death us do part’ is thrown out the window and gone.
    my best friend got married young. at 18, (i was 17 and her maid of honour, too young to even sign her wedding license.lol) both of them strong christians as well she worried some shortly before the wedding that what if this wasn’t the guy for her…
    her wise mum told her that as Christians we don’t marry the ‘wrong’ one. Even IF we would fail and marry a different guy then the one God originally had for us (which doesn’t really make sense to me if God ‘knows all’…?!) that God CAN and WILL still bless that marriage…
    I too believe that if 2 people are all for God and only want His will , with His love in their hearts, are ready to forgive- they can have a beautiful marriage. 🙂

  17. Cassie

    Thank you so much for this challenging post! My husband is a youth pastor, & I’ve been going through a study lately called “Obsessed” with our youth girls, which goes right along the lines with what you just said. I am posting on Facebook to share with these girls! I’m praying it will be challenging to them as well!

  18. Anonymous

    It was great especially when he thought he was the one

  19. Kemi: I think it’s a given that Christians would be seeking God’s direction in making the decision about a spouse. This is why it is so important before even pursuing a relationship that we lay out feelings and desires before God and ask, “Lord, do I pursue this beyond what it is?” And when He says, “NO!” (which is usually the answer if we ask Him before our emotions have run away to fairy land), we back off. Obediently.
    The Dating Culture and seeking The One go hand in hand… we date around as we test our feelings and thoughts about people, trying to determine if this is person is The One. But if we would just submit it to God, trust His direction, we’ll save ourselves a lot of emotional entanglements and keep ourselves pure (in heart, mind and deed) for the person we finally Choose with God’s help… or if Marriage is not part of Gods plan for us, we’ll be able to keep focused on God’s Glory in our life, not always wondering if the next person we meet is finally ‘The One’.

  20. Beautiful post!!! I could not have put it better myself!!!! My Father In Law says, “Even if you marry the ‘wrong’ person (ie. someone who doesn’t meet your expectations), after you say “I do”, he or she is ‘The One’!!
    Have you ever read, ‘Sacred Marriage’? It’s an awesome book about serving your spouse, and pursuing holiness, keeping your eyes focused on God as your source, in your marriage.

    1. Carrie

      Dear Anne,
      I’m finding several books entitled Sacred Marriage. Is it the one written by Gary Thomas?

  21. I usually wholeheartedly agree with all your posts but this one I have some issues with. I do not believe that any two people who choose to look at marriage a certain way can or should be together. There is also this concept of being equally yoked that is in 2 Corinthians 6:14. I believe that that is where the Holy Spirit and common sense work in tandem to guide your choice to the person that you would be best suited to be with. Lets be honest an atheist Gardner would not work with a devoted Christian politician their goals and views are too different. As such God knows and will direct you to the person that He knows that you will be able to work with for the rest of you life. I believe that God has a first plan for whom you to marry that is within His permissive will, meaning that without the willingness of both parties to listen to and follow His direction they will not get together, and after that there is God’s second choice, who is just as good as the first and to whom the same permissive will applies to, and until two people a attuned to God’s voice this process will go on until you are with someone.

    1. Thank you for your comment Kemi! I welcome any disagreements or concerns in my writing. First of all I want to say that I agree with you that an atheist gardner and Christian politician wouldn’t be a good match. I am sorry if that is what I communicated; it was not my intention. I do not think ANY TWO people can have a successful marriage. But if any two people have these 2 characteristics I do think their marriage will be a success:
      ~they love Jesus above all and have their eyes on Him for their fulfillment (therefore are mature believers)
      ~they long to keep their marriage covenant and serve each other based on God’s covenant-keeping love (have a Biblical understanding of marriage)

      My point was that these two qualities contribute to a successful marriage way more than how “compatible” you are, how strongly you feel toward each other, or how much you have in common.

      I hope this clarifies my point and makes more sense. Thank you again for your comment!

      1. Kelly I think your post was really clear and Kemmi might have just misunderstood it. Thank you for this inspirational post. I needed to read it today as it was one of my low days emotionally.

  22. Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

    Fully agree with the message of this post! Great material…

  23. Wow. How could you know exactly the words I needed to hear today? I am sharing the link to this so that all my fellow single ladies can read.

    Thanks for the inspiring words, as always, Kelly. And thank you for letting God use you to minister to us in this way. =)

  24. Loretta Hazel

    Following from my comment below, if a person defines ‘the one’ as the one who God has for them to marry. I think that’s correct. I think its not possible to ‘miss’ the one God has for you because His will shall always prevail. If you don’t marry that person, you can rest assure they weren’t the one. But it’s not to suggest that people should go around looking for what they want and seem the person who ticks all the boxes to be the one. They should pray, put their desires before God, but pray for His will. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. If the Lord has purposed for you to marry someone, then you’ll certainly marry them.

    So then the question is, does God involve Himself in every aspect of life? Answer, God is sovereign. Not over a few things, but all things.

    That’s my take on it. I have every faith in the fact that God has a plan for all of our lives and that includes the person we marry.

    1. Loretta,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with both comments you have made! Which means I must not have communicated something well in my blog, and for that I apologize. My entire blog was based off of how I see our culture (not the Bible) embrace “the one” concept. I totally agree that God is 100% sovereign over our relationships and whoever He has for us to marry is indeed “the one” we are to marry. But, unfortunately, I do not think most people, Christian and non-Christian alike, define it that way in their heart. My blog was written specifically to those who have an unbiblical view of “the one” in how they define this concept and how it plays out in their lives.

      In light of your comment, I am actually going to edit some of the wording in this article in hopes to make sure I have communicated my thoughts clearly without producing confusion for anyone. I hope this makes sense! I welcome any further thoughts, comments, or criticism. =)

      ~Kelly

      1. Lolu

        I love reading your posts, God bless you! Does this mean that I don’t have to have all the fireworks and mushy feelings to agree to marry someone (a christian)? And how don’t I need to commit the relationship and possible marriage into Gods hands, does He always automatically agree to every christian couple who intend to marry and make it work. Thanks

  25. Loretta Hazel

    I love your blogs Kelly! :). B
    *But*…on this one, I disagree.

    “First, let’s define this idea of the one as it is commonly embraced today. The one is the singular other human on the planet that God specifically created to compliment you and be your perfect match for marriage”. I don’t see ‘the one’ as that. I see it as ‘the one’ whom you believe God has for you to marry. Be it at that time (incase they die and you remarry), or forever. I believe that to be ‘the one’. Not digesting that that means they are a ‘perfect’ match. What is perfect except what God has ordained? With all the hardships. His will ius perfect.

    I shudder to think a person could believe their spouse to be the person who was in the right place at the right time & that there was no choice of God in the matter.

    1. Graeme

      I agree with your comment. There is a risk that we might turn looking for ‘the one’ into an idol, but that is because we aren’t really trusting God with the promise that if we trust in Him with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all our ways that He would then direct our paths. That means that He will let us know when a relationship is of Him or is not. Also, we need to be in full assurance of the fact that at the end of the day it is God who works all things according to the purpose of His will, and that includes our ‘choice’ in the person whom we married. I like what Mark Driscoll says: if you’re married to her [or him] then she’s the one, so once we’re married we then don’t have the excuse that we just chose someone who’s not really compatible, and therefore need to find someone else so we can jump ship and try again when the moment’s right. Rather, what God has joined together let not man separate – it is the full responsibility of both members to take complete initiative in every way they can to make what God has put together into a successful, God glorifying marriage, because God will have joined these two together not just as a perfect match, but also in order to form and deal with the character of both and to train them in unconditional love, faith and hope. That’s why it’s important to know that the one you’re married to is the one, because it gives the strength to persever through these hard, testing, character building times.
      Those are my thoughts on it anyway :).

  26. […] Needham is the wife of singer/songwriter Jimmy Needham. She has a fantastic blog that every young adult girl should have in their list of blogs to […]

  27. I love your posts on relationships. I always look forward to new posts!

  28. Great truths!! I have always believed that any 2 mature believers willing to submit to God’s word and Jesus’ example of serving each other and forgiveness, could be married forever. I met my husband 29 years ago, we were married 6 months and a day after we met (we started pre-marital counseling right away!), and will celebrate 29 years of marriage in Feb. Our motto is” A happy marriage is the union of 2 good forgivers.” It’s not always easy, not always fun, but totally possible. God loves forgiveness.

  29. Ruth

    Right on target, Kelly! You sum up what a lot of single and married Christians so desperately need to hear, marry, then be faithful to that spouse and focus on Jesus for total fulfillment, thank you.

  30. Felicia Rachelle

    Oh, What an encouraging encouraging post! Thank you, Kelly! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s