It Turns out That My Partner Isn’t “The One”

Soon I'll be able to use those happy emojis and mean it

by Sydney Hutt

woman standing alone

I remember all the details of my wedding: the soft lace dress I’d loved instantly before I’d ever tried it on; the red roses that were so important to me to include; the reception hall I stayed up all night decorating the evening before. But mostly, I remember the unbearably cold March wind that left myself and all my bridesmaids shivering violently during our outside, lakeside photos.

I think that coldness stayed with me that whole day, beyond the pictures and all through our distant and unaffectionate reception that my husband and I cut out of early. It stayed with me even as I slipped under the scalding bath water when we arrived home later that night, our car full of gifts but our hearts strangely empty. I cried in the tub then; maybe it was the hormones my unexpected twin pregnancy was firing off in my system, but it felt more like a massive sense of uncertainty and disappointment.

I loved my husband then, and I love him even more now as my friend and the father of my children. I don’t blame him for things happening the way that they did—how could I, when I think of all those nights he slept on a hospital floor during my pre-term labor, or how he held a vomit tray for me during my cesarean, or the fact that he embraced fatherhood better than any other dad I have known? I was so scared of breaking my tiny babies that for a while after they were born I rarely touched them. My husband, on the other hand, changed every hospital diaper for at least the first month that we were in the NICU. He was the primary bath-giver to our girls, tenderly soaping their skin folds that were limp and wrinkled rather than plump, and taped the palm-sized preemie diapers over their fragile forms.

He is such a good man, full of warmth, and kindness, and patience, and loves our children unconditionally. But he’s not The One.

I wish he could have been. I tried for years to make him into my person or to make myself his. He was my best friend, but as a romantic partner it was always so hard. However, I couldn’t give up, so instead I gave up the things that I believed in. I tried to change myself to fit the marriage, but my mind and body resisted so fiercely; I found that I was at war with my instincts, fighting against my very being. Depression sunk in, and while I smiled so hard on the outside, on the inside I was drowning. I asked myself endlessly, “Is this all there is?”

Though I went back to school, spent more time with friends and family, exercised, endlessly tried to self-improve, and read and read and read and prayed and prayed and prayed, nothing could prevent my slow slide into misery and monotony. I began to have anxiety attacks of which I could never properly identify the origin. My marriage felt like a tumor, slowly but surely suffocating me, a snuffer closing in on my flame. Or maybe it was consuming me a bit at a time—it’s hard to say really, except that I was undeniably disappearing.

At first I thought this was because I got married when I was twenty-two, but age is just a number. The root cause really breaks down to the fact that I had almost no schooling, no real work experience, no travel experience, no real life experience to speak of when I decided who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. When I got married, I didn’t even know how to drive—my independence was an illusion, and I was happy to accept it. But I’ve grown since then, grown so much that for years I’ve been pushing the binds of my marriage, constantly rearranging myself to find a comfortable position (and never really succeeding).

And even though we’ve finally decided to end it, that doesn’t mean I’m relieved of the pain. I’m heartbroken, and especially disillusioned, a feeling that drives like a freight train right into your guts and keeps coming, each car a new and separate blow.

But I see the light. Or more specifically, I see this rainbow explosion of happy emojis bursting and firing sparkly joy shrapnel all over my future. I know it’s coming, and I know one day I’ll wake up and feel like I’m finally in the right place at the right time, exactly where I’m intended to be.

A day where instead of wondering, “Is this all there is?” I’ll think, “This is what it’s all about.”

Sydney Hutt

Sydney is an English major and future high school teacher from a suburb outside of Vancouver. She loves the romantic poets, gothic horror, and long runs in the rain. Most of the time, you can find her desperately trying to finish a mug of tea while chasing after her three year old identical twin girls.

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  • Emily

    I needed all of this today. Cheers to sparkly futures.

  • Brooke

    What I love most about this is the recognition that a person can be a good person – or even a really, really wonderful one – but that doesn’t mean things can work. So often people encourage others to talk about how horrible somebody they dated, or even married, is; the reality is that they don’t have to be a bad person for things not to have a happy ending.

    • Laura C

      Something I always think about is when a friend was feeling troubled about having broken up with someone she thought was a good person, her mother said “you’re thinking about the quality of the man, but you need to think about the quality of the relationship.”

      • idkmybffjill

        Oof yes. That’s so well put.
        I found it helpful in the past when I would deal with guilt for just not connecting with someone great to think of it as, “if I know they are wonderful but I just don’t love them, I shouldn’t keep them from the person who will get that wonderful part of them and ALSO love them.”

    • a few

      just because they are a good person, does not mean that they are the right person for you!

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    This is precisely why no-fault divorces were invented.

  • a few

    I wonder if there was some post partum depression / anxiety issues at play here… specifically the section about rarely touching the newborns because of fear of hurting them and not wanting to change diapers or bathe them. (It might just be the ppd&a lenses which I currently see the world, but it sounds familiar and eludes to potential post partum mental health issues.)

    • Violet

      The byline says her girls are three years old now. So while that may have been a factor in her marriage a while ago, I’m not sure how that’s relevant to her divorce now. Could you explain what you mean?

      • a few

        just that it may have been a contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage over time or of the person feeling trapped. It shouldn’t be a factor any longer, but could have been hard on a relationship at a time when things were already very stressful.

  • Elizabeth

    “What you are seeking is seeking you.” Rumi There IS hope!

    It takes so much courage to listen deeply to that voice that whispers, cries, and then screams, “This isn’t My Person. He’s not The One.” And deep aching pain can come from acting on what you know to be true in your heart. Relief. Forgiveness.

    Maybe not everyone longs for “the one.” And that’s fine and great, and sure there are lots of people who make great partners, but that’s not what we are talking about here. He can be the best dad, friend, a good lover, cook, etc, and still, that isn’t the same as meeting your heart’s other half. He can be a soulmate–one who comes into your life to help you grow, change, create new life, teach lessons. And, yet, that’s different from the know in your bones you were made for each other partners.

    I broke off an engagement three months before the wedding to a kind, loving, thoughtful, great-partner man. In our hearts we knew we weren’t each other’s life-time person, but we wanted it to work and tried for years. God, it was painful. The day we broke up, we helped set up and attended together a friend’s wedding. What an intentional, healing day. I met My Person two months later. And you guys, he had made the decision to move across the country the very same day I broke it off and attended that wedding.

    • Ellie Rockhill

      My ex-husband and I tried vigilantly to make our marriage work. We tried counseling, we tried opening our relationship, then closing it again. We tried. And in the end, I made the decision to leave. I’m still walking away from the guilt and shame of that decision long after I walked away from the relationship.

      One of the hardest parts of the unfolding of our marriage was that we certainly loved one another fiercely. We were the best of friends and excellent parents together to his daughters from his first marriage. We made one another better for a long time. But I’d met The One (if we’re using that language) a year before my now-ex-husband and I ever met, and my love for him refused to leave me alone (we never dated, and had only hung out about 10 times before falling out of touch). I never saw or spoke to my soulmate while I was with my husband, though we exchanged a few emails that my husband knew about. They were long, elaborate novels we sent back and forth, though entirely platonic. Still, I felt the connection through the screen from across the miles and state lines. This, inevitably, was wounding to my husband, and ultimately played a great part in our inability to make the marriage work (his insecurity about my feelings for my old friend).

      I left my husband because of a thousand reasons that had nothing to do with my soulmate. He wasn’t even in the picture aside from a long-distance friendship. The fact that we wound up discovering that we are, it appears, soulmates, is still dumb-founding to me and definitely not something I expected for the year after I left my husband.

      So I walk with this story, and the simultaneous joy and guilt it brings me.

  • Emily

    I am so happy that the writer has found her peace and happiness, and that she sees such a positive future. However, this whole myth of The One really really needs to go away. The reality is that most people will feel unhappy if they expect one and only one person to satisfy their every need, and to think in such binary terms is setting yourself up for heartbreak.

    To be clear: I am not saying anything negative about the writers decision. We have no idea as outsiders of the intimate details of a relationship. I think the most telling point of this article is that she didn’t know herself before getting married. I think it can be more challenging to commit to one person for your entire life if you don’t know who you are (and what you want and who you want to be).

  • Lonelyanon

    This feels as it’s it’s aimed at me. My partner and I also got together Very Young, with almost no actual life experience, we moved hemispheres and learnt how to ‘adult’ together, how to navigate a different culture/country, it’s been 12 years, we aren’t married (for various reasons) but feels as though we are, and yet we have been struggling for some time, depression, family & personal & work stresses, routine, and other things have left us both admitting (this week) that we feel trappeod/bored/like roommates and not sure what to do or how to go on from this. Thing is, he’s my best friend and we really do enjoy each other and have a generally great relationship and are partners in everything.. things are just … hard. Really hard. And it’s hard to know how much is us actually struggling vs how much is the depression talking or normal difficulties in a relationship.

    • Ellie Rockhill

      Oh girl. Yeah. The early marriage/no adult experience thing prior to binding your life to a person is astounding and common and hard. I did it. I married a guy 13.5 years older than me. When we married, I’d hardly traveled, had no degree, and never worked a job that wasn’t in the service industry. He’d had multiple careers, an ex wife and kids, had traveled abroad and lived in many states… I hadn’t lived farther than an hour from the hospital where I was born my whole life. It didn’t work out for us in the end.

      Have you and your partner considered taking a season of living apart and dating long distance to garner new stories and life experience? It could add a spark to things… I know my partner wasn’t up for that, but it might be worth considering! Good luck dear.

  • Ellie Rockhill

    I got divorced this year – after being a huge marriage/wedding gal on APW from pre-engaged through months/years into the marriage. It is super helpful reading posts on this space about love and divorce. There’s just something about this beautiful community of women that really goes beyond weddings… and I think that speaks to an urge many of us have about marriage in general. That we want our relationships and decisions behind binding ourselves in a relationship to be about more than the wedding day itself.

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