In their view, destiny has picked out one individual who complements them on myriad levels -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually -- like no one else. And the ones lucky enough to be in long-term relationships, not surprisingly, say they're confident their partner is their other half.
But is this really true? Can only one person in this entire world -- mind you, there are 7.6 billion human beings living on this planet -- be ideally suited for us?
While I would love to believe that life plays out like a fairy tale, I can't subscribe to the idea that we couldn't click and carry on successful relationships with several people -- whether we live in London or Las Vegas.
Instead, I believe that we can have varying degrees of compatibility with different people, and it's up to us to decide which differences are too much to bear.
For example, I might feel drawn to Susan for her sweet personality, bookish bent, and penchant for hard work. However, I might not be crazy about the fact that she drinks and smokes (which I don't do).
Then there's Katie. I may find myself attracted to her because she has beautiful blue eyes and a radiant smile, not to mention she is a big baseball like I am. But the downside might be that she holds fierce opposing political views.
Could I not have a fruitful relationship with either Katie or Susan? As long as I am willing to overlook what I perceive as negatives (or they find a way to meet me in the middle), the answer is yes.
There are always going to be things we don't like about our partner. We may deem them to be nearly perfect, but there's always going to be something about them -- a pet peeve, if you will -- that gets under our skin.
Of course, people's personalities, hobbies, and views are not the only predictors of a successful relationship. It also depends on each person's willingness to invest the time and energy needed to make it work.
We all know someone who, after getting divorced, has gone on to find long-lasting love. Does this mean the second person was the true soulmate and not the first?
Not necessarily. It might mean that the first person was a fantastic match -- possibly even better than the second individual -- but circumstances (sometimes outside their control, like having to move permanently for a job) convinced both people that the marriage just wasn't going to work.
There's a difference between having the chemistry to forge a great relationship, and having the willingness to keep it strong.
To put it in a different context: If someone were to start slacking off at work, they could very easily get fired. It would be very convenient to turn around and say, "Well, it wasn't meant to be." But maybe it was the best job that person has had up to this point, and they may never find a better one in the future. Her indisposition toward attending to her duties led to the unfortunate end, but it doesn't mean she was ill-suited for the job.
And sometimes it takes a few relationships to realize exactly what it is we want in a partner. For example, now that you've been with your boyfriend for 2 years, you might be relieved your last relationship -- a tumultuous one at that -- didn't work out. Or, you may concede that you're not nearly as compatible with your current girlfriend as you were with your ex.
In sum, several people in the world can fill the role of Mr. or Ms. Right, and we will probably never cross paths with most of them (much like possible candidates for a job). We can only hope that the person we ultimately choose is among those with whom a blissful future is a sure bet.
Like loyalty, respect, communication, and honesty, it is one of the essential ingredients of a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
Is it any wonder that infidelity wrecks a relationship like nothing else?
Imagine how difficult it is to confide in someone who took your trust and sliced and diced it by cheating on you. There aren't many other things a partner can do that are nearly as deplorable.
The same can be said for a friend who steals from you or a sibling who talks behind your back.
They can make repeated assurances that they'll never do it again, but our gut tells us to guard ourselves against the prospect of being subject to similar behavior in the future (whether from that person or anyone else).
I'm not saying you should never give someone another chance -- only to be careful not to allow them to run roughshod over you.
Some of us feel so attached to certain people -- especially those we've known a really long time -- that we let them get away with disrespecting or otherwise taking advantage of us.
Such behavior should never be tolerated. If someone truly values you, they know better than to jeopardize the trust you've placed in them.
And to add insult to injury, these same people will bristle at any sign of others letting them down. Hypocrisy at its worst!
People with so little regard for your trust don't deserve it. Instead, save it for those who are worth your whole -- the ones who will covet because it genuinely means so much to them.
Remember: Trust takes years to build and seconds to break.
As another example, let's assume you invite your friend over for drinks. You turn on the TV to watch the season finale of one of your favorite shows. Your friend, however, begs that you tune into Game 7 of the World Series, which she's been looking forward to watching all day. What do you do?
Along with trust, respect, loyalty, and communication, compromise is the glue that holds a relationship together.
If two people genuinely desire for the relationship to remain strong, they each have to be willing to yield to the other's wishes every so often. They can't have it their way all the time, which smacks of selfishness and inflexibility.
In the first example, the pair can opt to get Mediterranean food and dine at the restaurants they originally had in mind on future occasions -- say, one on Valentine's Day
and the other on their anniversary.
In the second example, the person inviting the friend over can allow warm hospitality to win the day by recording the show to watch at a later date and putting the game on for her friend to enjoy. Whenever it is that they go to the other person's house, however, the one doing the inviting should similarly accede to her friend's wishes.
If you don't believe in the practice of give and take, you're going to struggle to keep your relationships afloat. Sure, every so often both parties should expect to hear a "no." But if one person always says "yay" and the other's answer to everything is "nay," that relationship is in serious jeopardy.
No one likes having to deal with an obstinate friend or partner who has to get their way all the time. All it does is make the relationship seem entirely one-sided, which can become quite tiresome after a while.
Relationships should be built on fairness and reciprocity. Neither person should be out to get the upper hand. Neither person should take advantage of the other. Compromise is critical to making each person feel as though their feelings are valued and their needs are being considered in earnest.
Sadly, a relationship where compromise is nowhere to be found will ultimately go off the rails. Those who refuse to compromise on anything demonstrate that they're only out for themselves and are not prepared to form intimate relationships.
In other words, you fundamentally change aspects of your personality and character just to secure the person's approval, which you're sure will translate into relationship bliss.
As I've suggested in earlier posts, there's always room for some flexibility and compromise, but you should not feel like a radically different person when you're with your significant other.
Perhaps you're not into spicy food, football, or museum hopping like your partner is, but you make the effort to partake in such activities because he or she enjoys them. At the same time, you might expect them to participate when it comes to your leisurely pursuits, whether fishing, painting, or watching National Geographic.
But let's say you're a quiet, introverted person by nature, and gradually you come to the realization that your girlfriend is the exact opposite: loud and obnoxious, with no filter.
She then tries to wheedle you into accompanying her to nightclubs and road trips with large groups of people so you can slowly adopt her lifestyle and become more like her.
Do you really think you'll be happy knowing that you're turning your back on your own principles?
Needless to say, if you have to go to such lengths to make a relationship work, it just is not meant to be.
When you're with the right person, you shouldn't feel forced to adapt your personality to complement that of your partner.
As you get to know him or her, you should get a sense whether the two of you have enough in common -- from your temperaments and hobbies to political views and plans for the future -- to form a long-lasting relationship.
That isn't to say that the two of you can't seem like exact opposites in the beginning and gradually build strong chemistry, leading to a wonderful (if unlikely) pairing. But such cases are the exception rather than the rule.
If you have to overexert yourself to be someone you know you're not, you're better off waiting for someone who will appreciate the real you. (Imagine meeting someone new who you know you truly click with, but you're stuck in a relationship with a person who isn't right for you.)
Whether your partner is gorgeous, well-connected, or rich, nothing can justify being involved with a person who demands an overhaul of your personality.
If you're happy with who you are, wait for the person who will covet you at your most authentic.
Don't change just to placate another person -- let alone one who refuses to change anything about themselves for you. And if you realize later that you're just too different, end the relationship rather than carry on the illusion that you're going to change who you are for them.
Life's too short to surround ourselves with the wrong people.
Some people will stop at nothing to get you to think and act like them. Don't allow it!
Make it clear that you will relinquish your uniqueness for no one. Assert that you will celebrate your individuality until your last breath.
When they push you to blend in, learn to stand apart. When they goad you to compromise your values or beliefs, stand firm like a rock.
Why would anyone wish to be a replica rather than an original?
Sure, human bonding calls for a bit of compromise -- a little give and take, if you will.
But never should anyone make you feel bad for being resolute in your desire to project your most authentic self to the world.
Extroverts might try to convert you into one of them. No matter how well you fake it, though, your introverted temperament will win out because, well, it's the real you. You need solitude in order to recharge your batteries and couldn't sustain the spotlight for too long.
Similarly, others may try to turn you into smokers, drinkers, atheists, liberals, party animals, and the list goes on -- all so they can feel less insecure about the decisions they've made and positions they've taken in their own lives.
You have bigger fish to fry than validating other people's choices. You ought to feel secure in your own and never back down for anyone.
Be comfortable in your own skin. Don't buckle under pressure from others to conform. If people are too bothered by the way you are, cut them off and instead surround yourself with people who value you just the way you are.
Being unique is a good thing. Never feel as though being different from the pack is going to lead to your being ostracized. Remember, those who appreciate your real self are the ones who deserve to stay in your life.