Sep 6 2011 9:45am

The Myth of the One True Love

Heart carving image by Sara Alfred via FlickrI have a confession to make. As both a romance author and a romance reader, I think I might get blasted for this, but here goes: I don’t believe in a One True Love. In fact, if you go to my website, you’ll see a slogan that begins with the sentence: “Choose to love.” I don’t believe that love is something that you fall into or something that takes over your entire being until you are forced to love—that may be lust or romance, but I can’t call it love. Instead, love is a choice, and this belief is reflected in my characters’s relationships.

For example, in my new September book Romancing the Countess, the hero and his best friend’s wife come together after their spouses—who were having an affair—die in a carriage accident. So many times I’ve read romance books where, if the hero or heroine had past relationships, their partners were never “right” for them. Either the hero and heroine didn’t love them or, if they did love their previous partners, then it wasn’t as great a love or as deep a love as the love they discover with their new partner. It’s not true love.

In Romancing the Countess, both my hero and heroine truly loved their spouses. They loved them wholeheartedly, without any reservations. They believed they would be with their spouses for the rest of their lives; the hero and heroine thought that each was their “one true love.” After the deaths of their spouses (as well as the full discovery of their affair), do the hero and heroine try to find another person to love? No—they don’t even wish to consider a future relationship as they each deal with varying degrees of grief and anger.

If any couple has a reason not to love each other, it’s Leah and Sebastian from Romancing the Countess. Their spouses have just died; their spouses had an affair. Sebastian’s best friend, the one who betrayed him with Sebastian’s wife, was also Leah’s husband. Not only are they not emotionally ready to get involved or to “fall in love” with someone else, but the sight of the other can be painful by bringing memories of their dead spouses.

But gradually after spending time together and getting to know one another, their acquaintance turns to friendship and their friendship to love. And even though in some ways they still might not be prepared to love another person, they make a choice to love. Although I don’t believe that one person can be a “One True Love,” I do believe that certain people match us better than others, and certainly in different ways. While Leah and Sebastian each loved their previous spouses intensely, the relationship they develop with one another is based on something more solid and enduring. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other; they are able to better understand one another’s quirks and vulnerabilities. I also believe that because they don’t fall into lust at the beginning but rather grew to love one another over time, their relationship is one that has a true HEA.

In the end, their choice to love one another after having loved their previous spouses so intensely shows that we have the ability to deeply love more than one person over a lifetime. As a romantic, my hope is that couples will remain committed and continue choosing to love each other for the rest of their lives. However, I like to think that, especially for couples who are parted by death, there exists a great hope and peace in the realization that they can love deeply again someday. 

Do you believe that there is only One True Love for each of us, or do you think that the idea of a One True Love is a myth? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and why we as romance readers prefer the idea of a One True Love in our books.

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, Romancing the Countess, and will get a chance to send a copy of my debut, Romancing the Countess, to a friend (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the Romancing the Countess Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!  

Heart carving image by Sara Alfred via Flickr

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Ooh, great topic. I like to have my cake and eat it, too, so while I do like to believe in the idea of "the one," I also think you can truly love more than one person and be perfectly happy without ever meeting "the one."
2. LoriD
Ashley - This book is on my 'Wish List' as the premise sounds so intriguing. I am so looking forward to reading this. I believe in "One True Love". However, I do believe that you can fall in love again (as in the case of your book) and have a HEA. This is a very interesting topic.
3. dick
Serendipitously, I just read "Romancing the Countess," and I can't quite agree that the book exemplifies what this blog suggests. By the end of the book, it seems to me both the H/h have decided that the prior loves were "flawed" (as they were), and that the love they experience together is better all round. I think the book suggests that the first loves were not love but obsession on the one hand and hero-worship on the other.
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
I think you are right in that we can choose to love. That 'true love' thing is often hormones and can wear off if we don't work at the day-to-day relationship.

That said, I do believe that the first time we fall deeply in love is special because the newness of the feeling flooding us can leave a deep impression.

I do get very tired of characters in romance who don't achieve the magic "O" until they meet the wonder-wang/whooha, or didn't really love their previous partner 'cause THIS ONE is their only one-true lurv!
Heather Waters
5. HeatherWaters
I do get very tired of characters in romance who don't achieve the magic "O" until they meet the wonder-wang/whooha, or didn't really love their previous partner 'cause THIS ONE is their only one-true lurv!

Ha ha ha, AGREED.
6. Grettel
I love the idea of one true love, it's so romantic!, but also think that the "one true love" is the concept, not the person but the love you share with him/her.
7. lady trudy
in real life, one might be grateful if they experience that type of love just once.
8. C. Allyn Pierson
I agree with you that there is not "one true love" for most people. I am a very practical and rational person and I think that I could have been happy with a number of different types of people. I also think that many people talk themselves into "being in love". How many people have seen friends in relationships where they are over the moon in love and everyone else can see how bad the relationship is? That doesn't mean that you have to accept someone who is boring, though. Studies show that people who have been happily married once are much more likely to be happily married a second time after a spouse dies. These people have learned to accept the imperfections of their spouse and make the compromises necessary to live happily with another person.
9. RebeLovesBooks
I'm always turned off by the "one true love" concept. I inifinitely prefer the type of romance/love that develops over time.
10. SandyH
Great blog. I agree with you. I think choosing to love and building a strong, lasting relationship can be very rewarding.
11. Isabel C.
Absolutely agree with you. I've never subscribed to what I like to call the Highlander model of romance--or to the "love at first sight" notion. Chemistry, both emotional and physical, is important, but you can have that with any number of people.
Ashley March
12. AshleyMarch34
Hi Dick:

Thanks for your comment! I appreciate your perspective from the reader side. I can only tell you my perspective from the author side, of course, and the way I hoped to portray it. I believe Leah and Sebastian were in love and committed to their spouses before finding out about the affair, and I think if the affair had never happened, they would have continued loving and being committed to their spouses. Was it an obsession? I think all love begins with an attraction and a sense of obsession, and because their love wasn't mature, it could have been tinged with more of this. However, I do believe that if they'd been married to their previous spouses for longer it could have deepened into a mature love. As for Leah and Sebastian, I feel like they started out ahead of the game compared to their previous relationships because they'd already lived through relationships that were focused more on attraction than an understanding of the other person. And yes, while they were still attracted to each other, it was their search for the deeper part of the other person that made their relationship much stronger than with Ian and Angela. Of course, this is just my writer's take. =) I would hope that some of those things come across to the reader, but I know that doesn't always happen. I hope you still enjoyed RtC! =)
Louise Partain
13. Louise321
Well, I have to say that I got married eighteen days after I met my husband. While that does not work for everyone, it was right for me. And what the heck it was the 70s. Having said that, I may believe in love at first sight, but I believe that love is always a choice with every conflict and irritation and hurt. When someone says something derogutory about my husband, I may inwardly agree with that particular irritating characteristic, but I choose to love and to defend my love. Love is also not easy and requires courage because you are always opening your heart to someone and they may not realize when they have slashed you. I've learned how to not just open my heart but to open my mouth when I'm hurt. I don't always get an apology, but my husband doesn't usually make the same mistake twice. And he tells me he loves me every day. So I have gotten in that habit as well. It's a good habit to have. So over 35 years love at first sight has become love as a choice. I have a friend who recently married after both she and the man she married lost spouses to cancer. They had both loved their spouses and when they got to know each other she was just crazy silly starry eyed in love. She had been crying herself to sleep for over 3 years, so we were all so happy for both of them except the children who expected one love true love to last forever. Like you, Ashley, I don't believe that. I believe that if you love well you are conditioned to love again regardless of the pain. Yeah, love is complicated.
Larisa LaBrant
14. MsGodiva1
My fiance and I were deeply, intensely, passionately in love. Both in our 40s, divorced from our High School Sweethearts (aka our One True Love of our teens) we definitely chose to be open enough to each other for that level of emotional intimacy. He chose sooner and with communication, kindness and flat persistance won my respect, trust and more.
Since he was killed in an accident six weeks before our marriage I hope life holds more passion and love for me, when I'm finally ready to be open again. Even as I still love him, and always will hold him in my heart.
Which puts this book on my must-read list, for entertainment and perhaps a glimmer of what may come.
15. TracyS
I really, really hate it when books diminish the first spouse in favor of "you are the only one for me." Mostly, that irritates me when the first spouse is dead. You can love more than one person in this lifetime. You can love the new spouse as much as the deceased spouse without dimishing either love.
Ashley March
16. AshleyMarch34
Hi redline. =) Did you ever see the movie Ever After? In it the prince goes on and on to Leonardo DaVinci about his frustration not knowing if he's met "the one" or not, or if he'll ever meet "the one", and how unfair life would be if he never met "the one." I'm an optimist, and I think loving the one you're with is a pretty great feat. Thinking that there's someone out there who is more perfect for me but that I might never meet or questioning my love for my husband because of this is simply depressing to me. Now if we're talking about paranormals where someone TELLS you who your soulmate is, then that's a bit different. =)
Ashley March
17. AshleyMarch34
Hi LoriD! I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you enjoy ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! Just to further the discussion, because of course I respect your belief =) I'm curious what you would think about the possibility of making someone your "one true love" because you choose to love them and commit to them no matter what?
Ashley March
18. AshleyMarch34
Hi bungluna! Thanks for the comment! To be certain, my thoughts on the existence of the one true love aren't meant to make love any less passionate or real or wonderful than it is. In fact, in my mind a love that is chosen is much more powerful than a love that just "happens" to us. I agree with you that these special feelings can leave a lasting impression. In fact, I still remember those first special feelings to this day for myself. Lol. Now this post makes me fearful for my daughters who will one day be teenagers and experience those special feelings. Must keep them locked inside the house!
Ashley March
19. AshleyMarch34
Hi Grettel--yes, this! You nailed it perfectly. I wish we had spoken before I wrote this blog post. =)
Ashley March
21. AshleyMarch34
C. Allyn Pierson--Yes, this is exactly what I mean. I love the way you put it. Please let me know if you write romance novels; I would love to read your books based on your response! =)
Ashley March
22. AshleyMarch34
Hi RebeLovesBooks! Thanks for your comment! =) I suppose in a way I don't have a problem with someone falling in love fast; it's the serial falling in love over and over again that I have a problem with. I think the concept of the one true love has become, to many people, a justification for leaving your current partner because you're no longer happy with them and of course this means there HAS to be someone out there you're meant to be with, and it's certainly not them. Everything I know about marriage (and since I've only been married 8 years, I'm definitely still learning) tells me that love is about commitment to a person, not an idea. And it's this type of love that I believe in and hope for where my heroes and heroines are concerned. =)
Ashley March
23. AshleyMarch34
Thanks, SandyH! Of course, now I realize that I probably didn't believe such a thing when I was a teenager. Which just means that my parents were right about that, too. Darn it. ;)
Ashley March
24. AshleyMarch34
Hi Isabel C.! Nicely put. =) Speaking of love at first sight, I think in terms of romance novels it could work...as long as the commitment of love follows the first bit and is shown through the characters working at such a commitment so we can believe in their HEA.
Ashley March
25. AshleyMarch34
Hi Louise321-thank you for the terrific comment! I think your story is a perfect example of choosing to love. I don't think it matters how fast or slow you fall in love, to be honest, just as long as the commitment and the choice to love is there. I'm so glad your friends found their new love. =)
Ashley March
26. AshleyMarch34
Oh, MsGodiva1, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. =( Thank you for sharing the story of you and your fiance. I definitely don't think it is easy to love again, especially considering such a tragedy, but I have hope for you. My SIL's sister was engaged to a man who died in a plane accident and she felt that she would never love again, either. It took a few years, but eventually she found a man who she can't imagine living without. I wish the same for you one day!
Ashley March
27. AshleyMarch34
Hi TracyS! Thank you for saying this. =) Although I do think the idea of a soulmate is a very romantic notion, I don't think love can detract from love. If that were so, then I would have less love for each of my children than double the love that I actually have. I think the human capacity for love is great, and that includes being able to love again without diminishing from a previous relationship.
28. ReaderCarolyn
I will love and adore my wonderful husband until the end of time, but I just don't believe in "one true love." I was obviously attracted to him, couldn't keep away from him, and married him, but we choose to keep making our relationship stronger and our love grows from that. I would be devastated and no doubt compare every man to him if he were taken from me, but I believe I could find someone else to love deeply. It would be different, but not greater or lesser. No one could ever be father to my children as they grew or have been with me as I grew into the woman I am today, but if I had to build a life with someone else, there would be new experiences to share, and I would be a different person because of the loss and change. I hope never to know much time without my husband because he's my best friend, my rock and biggest fan, but our hearts are capable of living on and growing to emcompass others to love, whether that's new friends, more children and even a new partner to share our lives with
29. Ai
I haven't read your novels but I do really like this blog you wrote. (FYI, I printed it out so I could attach them in my journal, hope you don't mind. :D) Anyway, I like how you think about what 'true love' means. I wouldn't have any wisdom to share since I am still looking for 'the one' and love is a big confusion, really. Anyway, it is always nice to think that there is one great love for each of us out there. I believe that but I also think that love is a choice. It is a bit mixture of those two faiths. A senior of mine once said, "Loving someone is a choice you give to yourself and to that other person because if we do not make the choice, we will be easily falling in and out of love. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard."

I love this article. Thank you for sharing. :)
30. Terri Osburn
Great blog and an interesting take on the topic. I too believe we can love more than once in our lives. But then there are couples like my parents who have been together for more than 40 years and I can't imagine either of them without the other. Love turns out differently for everyone.

I've loved and lost but never found the real profound kind. Maybe someday, maybe not. But I'll keep reading and writing about characters who find it every time. :) Looking forward to reading this one!
31. Johanna J
I like to think think that there is a "one true love" I know many have found true love twice though. I think it is all about your own feelings and loving people in different was. There is no two people the same so if you loved again your love would not be less but just different. I'm not sure if that made any sense! Oh, well! LOL! Thanks for sharing today!
32. librarypat
A good, thought provoking post. I think for some people there may be a one true love. For the rest of us, it is a bit different. For some the attraction is more lust than love and that is a shaky basis for a long term relationship. I think the best relationships start out as friendships. Mutual respect and interests make for a solid relationship and love has a fertile ground in which to grow. I think if you have had a good, strong, loving relationship, you may not want to look for another one. There are enough examples of failed relationships to scare anyone off. Start with a friendship, and if you want it to develop into more, you know how it is done and how rewarding it can be.
librarypat AT comcast DOT net
Linda Thum
33. thumbelinda
I like to believe that somewhere out there, there's a man (yeah he'd better be a MALE) who's the other half of my soul. Then again, it's depressing to think of the probabilities of meeting this person out of all the XXXX ppl in the world ... & will/did he wait for me?!

I'm still single & I'm still searching for him! Darn
G S Moch
34. LSUReader
Ashley, I agree with you that love is a choice. I don’t think we can choose to love just anyone we meet. But I do think each of us can have successful, lasting marriages/relationships with more than one person in our lifetime (though, hopefully, with only one spouse at a time.) I always found the thought of there being only One True Love per person to be discouragingly impractical—How ever would any one of us find Our Person in this huge world? But fiction is different. I have a willful suspension of disbelief about so many things (anyone else out there reading UF/PNR?) It isn’t too hard for me to accept the One True Love HEA in romance books—I just don’t believe it in real life.
Eva de Souza
35. forevabooks
I’ve noticed the one-true-love romances stop telling the story very close to the relationship’s beginning. Given time these might become less ideal. That said, a man who has loved wholeheartedly in the past is very attractive to me. I’m finishing my book, The Wishing Horse, in which the hero is grieving for his wife who died in childbirth. The heroine respects that past relationship as any good woman would. The book explores different forms of abandonment and I hope readers will find his personal journey compelling and honest.
Hayley Hunter
36. Bookworm-at-Starbucks
Finally! Someone who knows what she's talking about! I, for one, don't believe in true love - ESPECIALLY young love, which is such a jaded thing for me to say since I'm 15. I don't believe that after we accidently crash our car into someone's house, the man turns out to be your true love. But this makes reading them fun. You know that it will never happen to you, but you want to see the 'what if' side. All in all, I utterly and completely say that you - in my opinion - are correct.
38. no one else...
Yes I do believe there is such a thing as a one true love. I found this article randomly because I was looking for an explanation to what I am feeling. I was with someone whom I loved very deeply, we were together for two years we had to part ways (we dont have a future together, its almost impossible) but we still both love eachother. This is not my first relationship, I am 30 years old. I have loved others but when its over I may cry and be sad for some time but once I lose hope of getting back with that person I just move on. In this particular case I do not even want to move on, I am not trying to move on and I would rather love him every day of my life even if that means I will die alone. I have been heart broken before but whenever it happened I wanted to move on, find love again, not saying it was not painful before it was but I never just stopped .. I have stopped. The idea of being with someone else hurts me. I dont want to risk losing these feelings, that I ve never felt before.. even if I will never be with him again, it was too special too real too consuming I love the love, I love him and love how I felt with him and I will protect this love and keep it alive in my heart even if it will hurt me.
39. jeaniejeanie
While anyone can love different people for different reasons... this does not include family or best friends, etc., I do believe there is only one true love in our lifetime.. otherwise its attraction, lust, attachment, fun, affection or just plain magnetism- there are so many reasons to feel love for someone. What we're talking about here is THE one true love... the only one who stays in your heart for the reason of love itself! When you recall them or see a photo or hear their name, your heart has a longing that leaves all your flaps open, your stomach and breath flip flops and it takes weeks to recover (unless, of course, you are still together). My sister has the latter.... so sweet and I do envy their closeness and relationship..never seen anything like it... they still love each other deeply after 30 years. Me on the other hand is the one that got away or viceversa or he is the one that I let slip through or viceversa...any of those will do. That was 50 some odd years ago... He still brings a smile to my face and a feeling I cannot explain.. the longing- I guess it is for what may have been. I have dated and had so-called boyfriends of whom I cared dearly but I've never loved as I loved THE one!
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