Being single, I have had plenty of opportunities to think about relationships in encounters with (single) ladies. A common desire among singles is to "find the right one". I'm sure we've all heard so many stories from people in relationships that "they just knew that it was right", "he/she is my soul friend", etc. that these images have in our minds has become a per-requisite for a relationship; it has to be perfect, otherwise it's not worth it. I must myself admit that I have in the past argued that I'm a person who sets high goals, I'm used to reaching pretty high standards and relationships are among the most important parts of life, so why should I compromise in my goals when it comes to relationships? Now I have come to the insight that the requirement of perfection is here the step where I find a problem. In any other field of life it is commonly understood that a requirement of perfection will not lead to anything good. It is just a too high requirement, will therefore never be reached and because perfectionists still expect perfection, the failure to meet expectations leads to unhappiness. Relationships are supposed to be happy things, so what is going on here then? Still, could I look someone in the eyes and think/say "you're not perfect, but good enough?". Probably not. Another perspective is to think about the way people communicate about relationships. Think about the social dynamic of the following setting; you sit in café with a few friends, when one of the tells about his new girlfriend, and how he "just knows that she's the right one". Now imagine the same story such that the new girlfriend is present as well. Especially in the latter context the story has a immediate effect on (and purpose for) the relationship as public declaration of commitment. Because the feedback effect is so direct, I would see it as foolish to take the statement on face value. Naturally it must be a slightly polished, better-than-real view that people give to their partnerships, because publicly advertising the opposite would have a detrimental effect on the relationship. "She's ok, I think I'll stay with her for a while.." Quite recently, however, I came up with an alternative approach that seems pretty hard to beat. Instead of searching for perfection, I would argue that we should search for happiness. When I meet a potential partner, the right question is not "is she the right one?", but rather "would I be happy with her?". Somehow re-framing the question in this way takes, for me, the pressure out of the equation. Asking the "right one" question, seems to elevate the question to an everything or nothing level, while for happiness, a relationship is important, but certainly not the only component. Looking someone in the eyes and saying/thinking "I could be happy with you for the rest of my life" seems like a much easier thing to say than "the right one". At the same time, I don't see it as a lesser thing, or that it would somehow equate to selling-out, to accept lower standards, if you will. Being happy with you for the rest of my life, is no small thing. It is indeed spectacular. And since it includes many things outside the relationship, it is perhaps even a bigger thing then just finding the "right one". At then end, a small disclaimer is necessary. I have stated the objective as "would I be happy for the rest of my life?", with an emphasis on the first person, me. Relationships always involve more than just one person, so some might argue that the right question would be "would we be happy...". However, on one hand, I can take responsibility of only myself, so including a partner in this question would include something that I don't have much control over and thus useless. On the other hand, if I had a partner who is not really happy in our relationship, then I could hardly be happy either, right? So choosing this egocentric approach is not really so egocentric after all, but only emphasizes the fact that I am alone responsible for my own happiness.
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