The One True Cow

The One True Cow is confused - she is both a romantic and cynic. She believes in True Love for people who aren't married and uses it as a pleasant cattle prod to get everyone to the altar. However, for those who end up unhappy in their marriages, she insists that True Love is an illusion.


This chapter does not prove whether or not True Love exists, nor does it provide any formula for finding it. We are only taking this Cow to task for being two-faced and making people feel unnecessarily bad for desiring True Love after marriage as much as they were encouraged to desire True Love before marriage.

The One True Cow believes that true love should be everyone's highest priority and greatest goal... until marriage. After the exchange of rings, she tells people that they need to forget about prioritizing true love above all else. Beginning on the wedding day, everyone needs to stop believing that true love exists at all unless they are attaching that feeling to their current spouse.

The One True Cow wants everyone to get married and to stay married. It makes sense that she would tell married people, "You may feel like you chose the wrong mate, but there's no such thing as the "right" person for you! True love is a myth." People are more likely to stick with an unhappy marriage if they believe that there can be no lasting romance, and if they believe that admiration and passion must inevitably die with the passage of time.

That all seems logical, but why would the One True Cow want to promote the ideal of true love before marriage? Wouldn't she be more successful if she convinced everyone just to settle for Mr. or Ms. Good Enough and stop yearning for Mr. or Ms. Right?

Well, yes and no. If the One True Cow could successfully convince everyone to settle, then marriage rates would increase, divorce rates would decrease and the One True Cow could contentedly retire to the pasture.

Unfortunately for this Cow, however, people are not easily convinced that they should settle for Ms. or Mr. Good Enough. Committing to marry takes courage, and people need a lot of motivation to get over that hurdle. The cultural ideal of true love provides some of the motivation necessary to commit. Are you worried about marrying someone who is poor? "Don't worry," says the One True Cow, "You are marrying for true love, and that is much more important than money!" Are you worried that your spouse won't always love you? "Don't worry," says the One True Cow, "She is your true love, so of course she will always love you!" And so on. The One True Cow has an answer for every qualm about commitment, and her answers amount to true love being the most noble, most rewarding, and most cherished of all human aspirations.

This positive attitude towards true love serves the purposes of the One True Cow in two ways: it inspires people to get married, and once married, it inspires people to continue to feel fortunate for having found true love. A problem arises, however, when some subset of people become disillusioned with marriage. The Cow is not going to be able to convince those people that true love is just meant to make them feel miserable. Nor can she tell them that they married the wrong person. She really has no choice but to tell them that true love does not exist.

The Expert Cow

The Innocent Victim Cow

The Selfish Cow

The Defective Cow

The Holy Cow

The Other Cow