‘The One’ is Not Only Related to Romantic Relationships.
Each of us can have several “the ones” which are not romances.
When I was six years old, skipping down the sun strewn street of my neighborhood in a small town in New Hampshire, there, sitting on the stoop of a house three doors down sat a little blonde girl. Her hair, coming out of her ponytail in small whisps around her head, creating a gold halo. She had large, curious blue eyes. She smiled at me, a small gap between her two front teeth, to which I felt endeared. I grinned back at her and asked, do you want to be friends? From that day forward, we just were. This went on for the next decade.
We spent time together almost every day of our childhoods. We rode bicycles around the neighborhood. We drew with fat, colorful pieces of chalk on the sidewalks. We hunted for frogs in the park which was a few hundred feet away from our front doors (and, after the thrill of catching one, always put him or her back in its home of the pond). We made prank calls, selected at random from the phonebook, and then dissolved into uproarious laugher after each unsuspecting person answered (akin to Bart Simpson with Moe). We whipped up disgusting concoctions in the kitchen and dared the other to sample them. We dressed up for Halloween together. We celebrated our birthdays with one another. Our mothers became good friends. She and her mother even lived with us for a couple of years, renting out the basement of our home.
We fought. We made up. We were inseparable.
She was, during my childhood, “the one.”
We told each other everything. We understood each other. When I was in her company, I felt entirely myself. I could be zany and off the walls, sad and vulnerable, I could talk about dark, difficult things, or be excited and imaginative. All of which exist in each of us, yes?
I loved her deeply. She was like a sister to me. She was a part of me.
If we are lucky, we might have one friend like this in our lifetime. If we are wildly blessed, we may have a small handful of them over the course of our lifetimes.
These friends are also “the one.”
To me, “the one” implies someone who is a near-perfect fit for you. Near perfect because no one is a perfect fit for anyone ever. When you put any two human beings together, from different backgrounds, with differing temperaments, with varying interests and opinions, you are going to have some things that clash, things that do not fit. And with some, you will have this more or less than with others.
With “the one”, though, something clicks into place.
It matches. It complements impeccably well. Like peanut butter and jelly. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Like ketchup and mustard. Like marshmallows and chocolate. Like tea and cake.
“The one” is someone with whom, even amidst certain unavoidable differences, you feel at home. You feel comfortable. You feel seen, heard, and most of the time, understood. You delight in their company. You can talk to them about all manner of topics. You can reveal your soul to this person- even the complex or not so pretty parts. There is mutual respect, liking, and joy. The emotional connection is a deep one. They are a great love in your life.
This is “the one.”
For each of us, there are several of these possible “the ones” within the romantic realm, out there, lying in wait if we were to cross their paths.
And for each of us, there are also several of these in the non-romantic realm as well. Friendships that are “the one.” Some sisters may have this kind of connection too.
“The one” is not synonymous with romantic. “The one” is, instead, about the nature of the connection. The depth of it. The comfort felt. The understanding present. Mutual strong interest and curiosity in one another. Forgiveness. Love which is shown through actions.
“The one” is also not synonymous with “forever.” The duration of a relationship has nothing to do with it being “the one” or not.
We have this strange idea in our culture that a relationship is considered “failed” and cannot have been “the one” if it ever concludes. As though an ending wipes out and invalidates everything else. This is like saying that life is pointless and a failure because eventually, it ends.
Many relationships have a finite time period on them. This, in and of itself, does not make them failures. On the contrary, there are plenty of relationships that endure but are absolute failures. People who stay together who are wildly mismatched, unhappy, resigned, dysfunctional, even miserable. That is a failure. That is a significant lack of emotional health. It’s a waste of the time one has on this earth to love and to find great loves for themselves.
Endings, though, are not failures. In fact, they are natural aspects of relationships and human life.
Another dear friend of mine, she and I were friends from almost the second we could walk. Our parents were buddies, so we became friends by default. And yet, there has been nothing unintentional about our friendship. On the contrary, we are still friends today, 35 years later, by intention and effort.
Her mother babysat my brother and me when we were children. She used to make endless slices of buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top for me. I’d eat three, four, five, six slices of it. This dear friend of mine, L, the two of us would jump rope in the driveway outside for hours. We painted murals on her wall. We talked about anything and everything. We had mutual friends. We put together a haunted house in her bathroom, which unintentionally made our siblings cry and her cousin poop his pants in the shower! What a fiasco and hilarious Hallowed Eve that was.
We wrote and enacted plays together, just the two of us. We painted and drew. She painted things that looked like photographs and would then ask me, “Is this any good?” To which I would respond, rolling my eyes, jealous of her talent, “yes, L, it’s amazing. You’re going to be famous someday.” Over the last few years, she has been featured in Southern Living, Better Homes & Garden, and has a line of her pieces being sold in Anthropologie stores.
L and I spent middle school sitting next to one another in class and writing storied letters in notebooks to each other. Cartoon drawings and comics were sketched, thoughts about our current feelings and life experiences revealed, funny stories shared, you name it. We had sleepovers almost every weekend. And even when she moved away to Virginia, we stayed in touch.
I’ve seen her once, in person, over the last ten years. And yet, whenever we do talk (a few times a year), it feels like picking up right where we left off. She knows my family well, their character, and I know hers. We generally get and understand each other. We even look alike. We were mistaken as twins almost everywhere we went as kids, which we reveled in.
She was and is also “the one.”
Then there was S in college. We met at the tail end of school. I had been a disaster throughout college, trying to heal holes in my heart with alcohol and random men, at the expense of a man I loved and at the expense of myself. She came along, though, and was one of the key people to start a shifting within me toward greater confidence, loving myself, and to stop seeking validation in all the wrong places. Eventually, the very places and people in which I used to look for validation and love, would repel me. She helped me to see more clearly and to grow.
S and I were members of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) and would give presentations in class across campus on topics like date rape, harassment, sexual violence, consent, and more. Something about S was luminous. She drew people with her warmth and lightness of spirit. I was one of the many pulled toward that aura.
For over a decade, she was one of the friends to whom I felt closest, and who I loved the most. She told me often, how special she thought I was, how brave, emotionally strong, intelligent. She filled my heart. Our connection was a deep one. We got each other. We talked about anything and everything. And though our lives have forked at the moment in ways, I know the warmth, love, and care are still there between us. I hope someday, our paths merge again.
A and I met while working at a toxic insurance company. We connected over “would-you-rather” emails and a fantastic friendship was born. We had lunch together most days. We emailed back and forth for the rest of the day. We brought our partners together to meet and they became friends. The four of us went on tons of double dates over the years. We played mini-golf, watched movies, celebrated holidays and birthdays, bachelorette parties, and weddings. She and I confided in one another about most things. Our families, friends, the emotional challenges of our lives. We worked together at another company again, several years later, just before I moved to Europe. This one was equally as nutty, which we laughed and commiserated about.
For the entire time I was abroad (four years), we stayed in close touch. She sent me boxes with some of my favorite sweets at the time (chocolate covered Oreos) and cards with sentiments written inside like “even though you’ve lived abroad for a couple of years, you still know more about my life than most,” or “I miss you. You’re still one of my best friends,” and “come home soon!”
She and her husband visited me in Germany for a few days, which was a blast. We talked on the phone and Skype almost weekly. She was a responsive, generous, loyal, and patient close confidant of mine numerous times over the years. I felt understood by her, loved, and supported. We could talk for hours about all manner of topics. I always felt elated in spending time with her. The time seemed to fly whenever we got together.
Our paths too have somewhat diverged as of the present moment, though we still have a warm, caring, semi-close connection. I hope at some point in the future, our paths will converge again even more so.
She was also “the one.”
Then there is M, a fellow American (or should I say, she’s Anti-American, with the way things are going here right now) who I met while living in Germany for a few years. We worked in the same school as teachers. Though she seemed friendly, she wasn’t someone I ever thought would be a friend. My impression and thoughts toward her were generally neutral.
When I left this school for another job, she approached me and asked if I’d like to meet for a coffee or tea sometime. I was flattered and surprised since I am usually the initiator with friendships. After our cafe date, I was excited to realize this person was someone I was interested in. Something with whom I had a click. Over the next two-plus years, we met at cafes regularly. We could talk about everything. She, like me, is an avid reader. We are both interested in politics, social justice, feminism, and gender roles.
She is a responsive and loyal friend, to the end. Always jumping to read my work. Always listening to my WhatsApp audios within a day or two and responding quickly. She is one of the most engaged women I have met with regards to her friendships, and even while being a great mom to her toddler, as well as a loving and connected partner to her husband. I feel comfortable, understood, and at home with this woman.
She is “the one.”
And then there is J. I met her within my first month of living in Germany. My social slate wiped clean from moving halfway across the world. When I was being led around the school and introduced to my new colleagues, J caught my attention. Something about the warmth of her smile. I knew I wanted to know this woman. I asked if she might like to go out for tea or coffee sometime? From there, our connection flourished.
She took me out some time after that for my first experience in a European nightclub, which was nuts. People dancing in cages placed around the room. The club was like something of an underground cave. It was both daunting, overwhelming, and way cool. By three in the morning, I asked her, bashful, if we might head out since I was exhausted? The next morning, a colleague of ours, S, who would go on to become a close friend of mine, joked she had heard we went out last night and that I requested we leave “super early.”
Though I’m not much a partier, so I didn’t really go out with J after that, our friendship deepened and grew. We spent time together every week, having brunch, dinner, tea and coffee, cake and tea, or just walking the city. We traveled together to Scotland, Italy, and throughout Germany. She is still one of my favorite people with whom to adventure.
I feel a sense of safety and contentedness around her. She is laid back, easy-going, warm, and kind-hearted. Everyone who meets her feels the same. I can tell her anything. She has told me, more than once, that she too can tell me anything and “never feels judged.” We laugh and have fun together. There is an ease, loyalty, and deepness to our connection. Seven years later (and three-plus years since I have left Germany and come back to America), we are just as close.
She is “the one.”
I have felt just as emotionally close to, understood, and connected with these women as I have with my great romantic loves. Aside from the sex aspect that romances entail and these friendships have not, I have experienced similar degrees of intimacy, love, and emotional closeness with these people as I have with my two great romantic loves (A and M).
And, to widen the small circle of who I mentioned in the essay above as “the one,” there are a handful of other friends I’ve had (and still have) who I would classify as incredibly emotionally close, deeply loved friends with whom I have felt at home, as though I can tell anything to, and who I would still classify as best friends over the years.
“The one” is not just a concept related to romantic relationships. We can meet and have “the one” in poignant, emotionally close, deep friendships, and even sibling relationships too.