‘One True Love’ Ending, Explained: Who Does Emma Choose Between Jesse And Sam?


We hear a lot from various sources that love is a “choice we make every day.” But we beg to disagree. Building a life together requires certain compromises and sacrifices, along with a whole ecosystem of effort that must go into any long-term relationship. But love cannot be chosen. It’s either there or it isn’t. In fact, we would say that in a relationship without love, what is the point of effort? And if there is love but no effort, even that emotion cannot survive for long. The movie “One True Love” plays somewhere along these lines of our beliefs. It is a simple case of how love can remain constant despite people growing apart. Till the very end, we believe that Emma continued to love Jesse. But she had also come to love herself in her new life, as well as Sam, who had come to accept and love all parts of her. There was love all over, but her decision was based on which side had more at stake. Let us explore that through a recap of “One True Love.”

Spoilers Alert

Jesse And Emma’s Love Story

Jesse and Emma’s love story started back in high school due to a happy accident. They were at a party where Emma was checking out Jesse while he stepped out of the pool. Maybe Jesse noticed, and that gave him the confidence to approach her, a confidence that Sam must have wished for many times over the years. When the police raided the party, Jesse was quick to grab Emma’s hand, and that led to their first adventure: being stuck in a police station as they failed their breath analyzer tests. This is the only adventure high school kids should be allowed to have. Emma had liked him for a long time, and Jesse had liked her since he caught her looking at him at the party. They hit it off immediately, and both of them build a life together. Emma starts writing for travel magazines and runs a blog of her own. As for Jesse, he is a photographer and aspires to be a documentary filmmaker. They get married soon enough, and on their first anniversary, Jesse has to leave for Alaska to shoot a film. This is when tragedy occurs. Jesse’s plane crashes and both pilots are found dead, with Jesse nowhere to be found. Everyone believes that Jesse didn’t survive the crash as well. Emma is devastated and continues to stubbornly believe that he will come back to her. That is when her sister, Marie, tells her to come home with her and pick up her life again.

How Does Emma Move On In Life?

For close to three years after Jesse’s death, Emma lived in the hope of hearing back from him. But when the search was called off, and it became clear that he wasn’t coming back, Emma’s family encouraged her to move on. The first step was to give her some books with characters she could relate to. Emma had loathed reading her entire life and wanted to get away from the bookstore as much as possible. That was one of the biggest reasons for her wanderlust. But being back home, reading the books she had avoided, and learning to live with and love her family taught her that she had a place of her own even though Jesse was not next to her. Eventually, she met Sam and they fell in love. When Sam proposed to her, he told her that he would wait as long as she needed. But Emma had already found happiness. She writes a letter to Jesse, never to be posted, where she says goodbye to his memories and the fact that she wants to let go of him now. Next, she proposes to Sam, and they get engaged.

What Happens When Jesse Comes Back?

When Emma hears the news of Jesse coming back, her new world is completely turned upside down. Jesse had been stranded on an island for four years before he was finally found and brought back. When Emma goes to meet him, she immediately tells him that she is engaged and that she is trying to decide what she wants. Even an insecure Sam tells her the same thing: to figure it out completely before coming back to him. Emma moves out and lives with her sister for a while so that she may be more unbiased and clear-headed in her decision. Soon enough, Jesse asks her out to the cabin in Maine, and Emma agrees.

‘One True Love’ Ending Explained: Why Did Emma Choose Sam?

When Jesse and Emma start their trip, Jesse realizes just how much Emma has changed. She has started reading, has become lactose intolerant, and has made up her mind that she wants children. What starts as a fun catching up between the estranged husband and wife soon turns into a heated confrontation with Jesse as to why Emma did not wait for him. He is furious because it was Emma who kept him going when he was suffering on the island, but back home, she had moved on. However, this confrontation is resolved when Jesse gets his hands on Emma’s letter. Reading about her journey and everything she went through before she reached this particular point in her life takes out some of his anger and disappointment. Jesse understands that the person in front of him is not the girl he had been in love with.

“One True Love” is based on the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, known for “Daisy Jones and the Six.” As fun as her writing is, there is always a strong message in her stories about what it means to actually be in love. “Daisy Jones” was about how important self-love was for a relationship, and “One True Love” is about why it is important to grow together to be able to continue loving one another.

At the end of “One True Love,” Emma makes her way back to Sam, who is also rushing to tell her how much he wants to be with her. They reconcile and get married as they intended. Two years later, Emma is pregnant and happily running her bookstore. As for Jesse, he has found love again and is learning to get over his fear of water. Love and right intentions triumph one more time, and it is a happy ending.

Final Thoughts

“One True Love” was not the most engaging narrative that it could be, but it is worth watching for the message. Emma never stopped loving Jesse, but her love was not restricted to him. She loved her new life, her sense of belonging, her fiancé, and the new goals she had for herself. Jesse was still the globetrotter at heart that he had always been, and maybe if he had never disappeared, the two of them might have found a middle ground for their changing personalities. But they had drifted apart from each other, literally and figuratively. As heartbreaking as that was, it still led to some good things for them. As Shakespeare once said, “All’s well that ends well.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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