If there's one thing I've learned from all my friends' breakups (and some of my own), it's that seriously referring to your partner as "the one" or your "soul mate" pretty much always means trouble down the line. It's practically a proven formula: the more #relationshipgoals Instagrams you post with gushy three-paragraph essays about how you just "knew" when you saw your partner, the more likely you are to break up and delete every sunset waterfall makeout pic in one fell swoop.
But why is believing in a singular "one" for yourself—something popular culture dully hammers into your head from your very first Disney princess movie—such a bad thing? Here are eight reasons why your significant other should never be The One:
You might be placing too much weight on sexual or physical attraction.When people talk about finding The One, there's often emphasis on how their partner walked into a room and they immediately felt a spark. While attraction is obviously important, hedging all your bets on that initial reaction doesn't mean your relationship will work out.
"While it only takes about 10 seconds to decide if someone is or is not sexually attractive, it takes significantly more time to determine if someone is a long term partner possibility or not," says Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, Chair and Professor of Counseling and Counselor Education at Northern Illinois University. "While sexual excitement is an important aspect of a healthy relationship, if the emotional connection [doesn't] move beyond the physical connection, the relationship won’t survive the day-to-day challenges long-term relationships are going to experience."
You cannot trust the honeymoon period.Let's be real: when you hear someone boast about finally finding The One, it tends to happen on the earlier side of the relationship, when both people are their lovey-doviest, conflict-free selves. The honeymoon period can feel absolutely euphoric and like you can't imagine loving anyone more than your new boo. "Endorphins and oxytocin are coursing through your system and you feel like you’re on top of the world and at the top of your game," says Dr. Degges-White.
But, alas, there's a biological reason for you feeling so absurdly obsessed and overwhelmed by your S.O., and much of it has nothing to do with if you're actually compatible down the line. "Our genes program us to search for high quality mates for reproductive purposes—even if you’re nowhere near ready or remotely interested in having babies, your genetic programming is coded towards that end result," says Degges-White. "Unfortunately, the judgements that you might make when first meeting a potential partner may be driven by the 'short-term mating' mindset, while the long-term partner potential is still not even a part of the equation."
It doesn't allow your partner room to be their own person.Even if you find someone who happens to eerily share your exact tastes in pretty much everything, having the expectation that you'll always remain so perfectly aligned sets you up for disappointment down the line. "Initially, we choose The One based on the assumption that they are similar to ourselves—we like people who are like us," says Dr. Degges-White. "However, in mature and lasting relationships, we come to the conclusion that our significant other is a separate person and is going to bring different traits to the relationship. Once we are able to recognize and respect the person our significant other actually is, the relationship is likely to give both partners more room to be themselves."
Believing that any deviation from your similarities disqualifies a person from being "the one" just means your expectations will never be met, and you'll always be chasing a person who doesn't exist.
Also, it is IMPOSSIBLE for a partner to never profoundly annoy you."It’s normal to have a few personal 'deal breakers' that would knock a potential partner out of the running, but there are some quirks and annoying traits that you might learn to accept in order to keep a relationship moving forward," says Dr. Degges-White.
This is before you embark on more challenging life changes like moving in together or co-parenting a puppy—your partner can and will do things that will completely astound and irritate you to no end. If you feel that your ideal, perfect partner would never text you six really short bubbles instead of one full sentence, you won't be equipped to healthily deal with the little annoyances that come your way.
You can't possibly predict where the relationship will go.Claiming that you've found your definitive soul mate implies that you've envisioned a simple, straight-line road map for your relationship. "When you think you've found 'the one,' you are already making a lot of assumptions about how things will be in the relationship before you're barely out of the gate," says Degges-White. "Unfortunately, even the best long-term relationships are going to face some challenges along the way even when the white-hot passion ran deep at the outset."
Also, if you do break up (because no one can ever predict these things), you'll be so much more heartbroken than if you chose to look at your relationship realistically.
The pressure to hold onto The One makes you lie to yourself."The more we try to force something to happen—especially romantic relationships—it seems the more likely they are doomed to fail," says Dr. Degges-White. Stressing over maintaining what you initially thought was a star-crossed relationship only makes you ignore potential red flags, or even just moments where you're really unhappy.
"In general, it is pretty difficult to make someone like you when they don’t, and it can be pretty exhausting to try and be someone you're not for fear of losing someone," says Degges-White.
Never having eyes for anyone else is an impossible standard.It's been proven time and time again that monogamy doesn't work for everyone, yet the entire point of "the one" is that they are the only person you're interested in for the rest of your life. "Very few people are truly immune to at least fleeting feelings of attraction to others—it's a physiological event and the real choice comes down to whether or not you act on that attraction," says Dr. Degges-White.
Assuming that your partner cannot have any vague attraction to any other person for the rest of their lives only encourages you to lie to each other and to yourselves (potentially leading to secretly cheating, if you can't talk ever about it in a healthy way).
Having the less "sexy" things in common is the most important.Bonding over the same obscure band can convince you that this person gets you like no one else, but it really, really doesn't predict if you'll date longer than a year. Instead, Dr. Degges-White suggests asking yourself if your long-term goals, day-to-day values, core beliefs and ways you spend leisure time are more or less lined up. And, of course, you have to assess how you are together when sexual attraction isn't part of the equation.
No one has ever found their "one" just from spotting them across the bar. Sure, in retrospect, if you drunkenly hooked up, transitioned to dating, got married, had kids, and gone through 60+ years of ups and downs together without regret, it can feel like you happened upon your soul mate that night. But the fact remains: you become each others' life partners when you both choose the relationship every day. And honestly, that's a lot rarer and more mystical than any "one."
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.