Love is complicated; it’s hard to describe; you’ll just know it when you feel it. She’s the one; the one I’ve been waiting for. It’s hard to explain, but I feel it in my heart.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~Albert Einstein

I had finally banged my first chick, and I was in love. Real love, too. I’m talking about the fervent kind of love that can only be experienced by a man who is scared to death that he’ll never get laid again if he loses the only girl he knows. Though Jenna and I had only fornicated once in the baptismal dressing room during a church service, I was absolutely convinced that she was my girl. She was the one.

She was the one who talked to me when few other women would.

She was the one who grew up just like I did, so we understood each other.

She was the one who was beautiful, feminine, and definitely only slutty with me, and definitely only that one time in a rare isolated incident.

She was the one who complimented me and made me feel special.

She was the one who captivated my thoughts as I drove back home to Atlanta.

She was the one I wanted by my side the following week as I bid farewell to 1994 and rang in the New Year.

She was also the one who didn’t return my calls.

Bummer. Perhaps going from zero to orgasm in less than 5 seconds isn’t the way to impress a lady, or maybe she just needed a little more time to realize that what we had was special.

I had a severe case of oneitis. I couldn’t get Jenna off my mind, and she couldn’t get my voicemails off of her machine.

Or my emails out of her AOL account, or my flowers off of her front porch.

Women enjoy a lot of things, but one of them definitely isn’t being stalked by the guy they hooked up with at church during a Christmas service.

But what makes a man have oneitis? What on earth led me to believe that she was the one that I couldn’t live without? Why would I spend the coming months feeling like death, not talking to other girls, and being so lonely for her? What is this phenomenon that makes us see one woman so differently than all the rest? Barring a few superficial differences in the way women execute sameness, they’re pretty much all the same. We’ve all been in love with “the one” before, and we’ve all lived to be in love again with the next “the one.” So what’s up with the temporary psychosis that makes us view one woman as somehow special?

In 1911, Dr. Mario Ponzo described the geometrical optical illusion we now call the Ponzo Effect. This is where the human mind judges the size of an object based on its background, causing two identical objects to appear vastly different in size based on their surroundings.

Ponzo_illusion

Think of biggest, fullest moon you’ve ever seen, and then think of a night when the full moon seemed tiny in the sky. If you took a pencil in your hand, extended your arm, blocked out the horizon, and judged the size of the big moon and the seemingly smaller moon relative to the eraser, you’d discover they’re the same size. The moon isn’t bigger one night and smaller the next; our perception is different based on the objects surrounding it. When the horizon is in view, the moon just appears bigger, but it’s still the same distance from the earth, and it’s still the same size as on the nights it appears smaller.

That’s oneitis in a nutshell. Some women seem different than others, but only relative to their surroundings. Jenna seemed bigger than life against a horizon of her country SWPL Christian background and her desire to have sex with me, but had that exact same experience occurred at a bar somewhere in Atlanta with a non-Christian city girl, I’d consider her a slut and try to ditch her after sex.

Oneitis is basically a Ponzo Effect of the heart; an illusion perceived and acted upon by men who aren’t quite as smart as a pencil eraser.

Ask any happily coupled man, and he’ll tell you that he loves his woman and can’t imagine life without her. Good for him. But if someone dropped a house on her and he found himself single again, I’m pretty sure he’d find someone else to love and be all twisted up in. Now I’m not suggesting that mutual oneitis can’t make a man happy, but I know a homeless guy who’s thoroughly convinced that he’s Napoleon Bonaparte, and he seems pretty damn happy too.

Am I disparaging love? Am I cheapening the bonds of holy matrimony? Am I insinuating that a man and a woman can’t be happy together?

Absolutely not. I’m just trying to put it in perspective for you, Mr. Big Moon. Love is transactional, and commitment is a decision; walking into or away from such a situation blinded by the Ponzo Effect could be disastrous.

The severity of oneitis is directly related to how much experience a man has with women. If you’re suffering from oneitis, you need to get out more. When you’re around a lot of women – regardless of whether you sex them up or not – you learn pretty quickly not to elevate any of them above the collective herd. Love them for who they are, don’t try to change them, enjoy their companionship while it lasts, work to preserve the relationship if it’s worth preserving, never compromise your principles in the face of shaming language, and if they decide to leave anyway, find a replacement before their side of the bed gets cold.

Keep busy with that regimen, and oneitis will be a thing of the past. Don’t chase; replace.

I eventually crawled out of my self-loathing oneitis cocoon and ventured back into the real world. Armed with the confidence of my single notch, I set out on a quest to find my next “the one.” I was a pretty sad sight there for a couple of years, but I eventually figured it out.

If you meet a girl whose special blend of sameness compliments yours, hang on to her. If she seems different because her position in relation to your horizon makes her appear better or more interesting, that’s actually a good thing – we’d all rather spend time with someone like that.

Just don’t forget how a Ponzo Effect of the heart can lead you to assign value where it doesn’t belong, keep your wits about you, and you’ll be just fine.

Read Next: American Women Simply Can’t Compete