Love & Sex

How Often Do You Meet “The Love Of Your Life”?

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A new survey reveals that, statistically, you'll probably fall head-over-heels this many times.

"You can only fall in love x many times," your friend insists. You can solve for x with one, four, a hundred, or no times at all. These platitudes are often served over post-break up fries or in the midst of heated arguments. But multiple loves seems like a strange concept in the light of that ubiquitous phrase we've adopted: "The love of my life".

A new survey has concluded that “the love of our lives” might not be the ones we end up with. Siemens Festival Nights (I laughed, too) surveyed 2,000 subjects and found that 1 out of 7 people doesn’t think the person they’re with is the love of their life. Barring Stephen Stills-isms, the fact that 14 percent of us are biding our time and making due with who is around seems an eerie, irksome figure. 

The survey also found that the average person has fallen head over heels in love just twice in their life and most have been left heartbroken just once. This statistic felt a little arbitrary. It reminded me of that trite scene in Sex and the City where the earnest Charlotte declares her own rule of thumb:

Charlotte: Everyone knows you only get two great loves in your life.
Carrie: Everyone who? Where'd you get that?
Charlotte: I read it in a magazine.
Miranda: What magazine, "Convenient Theories for You Monthly"?

That's maybe what "love of your life" rules are—convenient theories we sculpt around the singularity of finding love. The survey also found that it takes us an average of about 10 weeks to know if we’re in love. Just 10 weeks to navigate another being and care for them as deeply as we care for ourselves.  Pared down to a number, the findings seem laughable, but when we or our friends do it, we hardly blink an eye. 

That 10-week-long trial still doesn't mean we're fated to stay with the person; we're still cautious about the length of time we take to fully initiate someone into our lives. And if that one we really love falls through the cracks, at least 1 out of 7 of us moves on elsewhere. According to a survey on eHarmony from 2011, “on average, couples decided to marry 2.8 years after they first showed romantic interest (many couples knew each other before they dated, but that isn’t counted).  This may reflect growing trends in the delay of marriage." That's the tightrope of our cultural narrative: we are expected to be in a constant flux of love, we must have a measured attitude, and yet we must endorse its unique quality, the rarity and luck of finally finding that "one".

The myth (or truth) of that "one" is so strong and so prevalent that 46% said they would be willing to leave their partner if their true love came around

Claire Jarvis, a representative for the Siemens survey, told The Telegraph: "The survey highlighted some colorful revelations about people's love lives.The results showed it can be hard to find 'the one' and although the general perception is that women tend to fall in love more often than men, it was intriguing to see that in reality both men and women fall in love on average two times in their life."

Interestingly, more than half of those polled thought they have been in love on occasions but in retrospect, they don't believe it was the "real thing." Some people think we can fall in love multiple times in life. Then that begs the question about what consists of a genuine and complete love. It depends on your lover. It depends on how complete a person you are at the time. The complication of this survey is not what it says about our romantic behavior, but what it says about the very subjective interpretation of the language surrounding love.

What does "the love of your life" mean? How do you know you are head-over-heels for somebody? I'm not sure I or one tiny survey could ever clear up these eternal, big-gulp questions, but I know one man who certainly skirts the definition: