Romance isn’t dead. It’s just digitized. By swiping through images of faces and bodies, modern singles seek not necessarily, the one, but someone. Science tells us that it may take 10,000 lifetimes to find your soulmate.
In his new novel, The One, author Johh Marrs creates a reality where all it takes is a simple blood test to track down your soulmate, no swiping involved. The book, which Marrs wrote after realizing "the world of dating might be a lot easier if we all knew that there was definitely somebody out there for us and how you find them," breaks down our notions of fate, science, and sexuality. The One follows multiple characters who take the blood test, and two, who previously identified as heterosexual discover that the love of their lives is another man.
"I wanted to show just how fluid sexuality can be and that I don't see why you can't fall in love with someone of the same gender even if beforehand you never thought that you were attracted to a member of the same sex," Marrs, who is happily married to his husband — also named John — explains, "Anybody can fall in love with anybody they want to, and they shouldn't be penalized for it."
But The One is not about who you want to love, but who is the right fit. "Not all of the characters are necessarily with the people that they should be with, but they've been told who they should be with," Marrs notes, "Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct."
Although the book is science fiction, for Marrs, the concept of a soulmate isn't. The author is also a journalist who spent years interviewing celebrity couples, noting their ability to survive being a public spectacle is a testament to their predestined love.
"Someone like Victoria and David Beckham who draw so much media attention, positive and negative, over the years, there must be something that keeps those two together," he told The Advocate. "Oprah and her partner, again they have been through everything together and it's just, like, such a wonderful example of not letting fame or wealth or one person having more get in the way of what's between them." He also sites Ellen DeGenres and Portia de Rossi as soulmates.
However, those who initially look like perfect matches don't always pan out. "The people who I thought were really destined to be together actually never lasted. I was actually quite sad for Brad and Angelina that they split up, and I don't even know these people," he says.
But in a world where we are constantly changing, it's hard enough to be one person in a lifetime, let alone find someone meant for all the people you'll become. When asked if in the real world the concept of a One is possible, Marrs gives the brokenhearted hope, stating, "The premise of my book is that there is just one soulmate for you out there, but that might not be the case, really, there could be several, you could have several throughout your life."
Marr's husband, who he found after getting out of a nine year relationship, is a heavy influence on his belief that his one exists. His perspective on true love? It's "taking on board each other's opinions, and understanding each other, and if there's some drama involved, then so be it."
Would that drama involve taking the test to find out if his husband is the one?
"Lots of people ask me even though they know that I'm happily married, and the answer would be definitely no, I wouldn't take the test," he asserts, "I think in this day and age, and I have a lot of single friends on Grindr or Tinder, or various other apps. And they go out and they get some coffee but they don't explore much further. They don't even think to try. And I think the reason for that is they always think that the grass might be greener on the other side; the next person they might swipe might be a little bit better for them."
His advice for finding the one? "You can, if you want, put the effort in, and that person might be who you end up marrying."
The One by John Marrs is published by Hanover Square Press and available here.