It’s easy to be pessimistic about many things: the state of the planet the economy the future of humanity Yet there’s one area where many of us retain a curious sense of optimism. We have faith that, from among the millions of our fellow human beings out there, we will one day be able to locate a Very Special Person, a being uniquely well suited to our temperatements, tastes and aspirations; someone who will feel like the missing bit of the complicated jigsaw of our deep selves – someone who can make us whole. We know it won’t be easy to find them. So many people seem nice, at first, and then the problems emerge: it turns out they have a very annoying sister… or they are far too nervous about things; always insisting on arriving at the airport three hours too early… or they have appalling taste in music… or their conversation after a long day at work leaves a lot to be desired. That’s why we keep searching: calling for more space, taking a break, getting divorced, scrolling through future possibilities online… Though it seems like we must be very romantic to put such efforts into finding the Right Person in truth, our perpetual search is really a refusal of love. It is a guarantee that we can never succeed at relationships, because in the end, the deep secret to love is that there is no Right Person. There are perfect beings, we can imagine them very clearly, but – tragically – they exist only in the upper atmosphere… …and never down here on the earth… It’s the insistence on people being Right that’s at the root of rage and intolerance, for we are never more furious than when we believe we had signed up to perfection. And given what the human animal is like, we can be guaranteed always to find something that isn’t entirely right. To be really romantic, truly committed to what love requires, we need a vital and rarely mentioned quality: a healthy dose of PESSIMISM …Pessimism about what even the most perfect-seeming person will really be like once one gets to know them and with that pessimism comes forgiveness for the inevitably very long range of flaws that we’ll discover in them, and they will – of course – discover in us. An optimistic search for the Perfect Person commits us eventually to throwing away everyone we are ever likely to meet… Yet in truth, the person who is really best suited to us is NOT the person who shares all our tastes, but the person who negotiates differences in taste intelligently and wisely. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it can’t be its precondition. To be able to love properly, we have to attend a funeral first: we have to bury a lot of our hopes deep in the ground That funeral is the most romantic thing we could ever do. It will liberate us to go back out into the world and have proper human relationships that can endure, and flourish.