The idea of a “soul mate” is that for every person there is another person who is a “perfect fit,” and if you marry anyone other than this soul mate, you will never be happy. This idea of soul mates goes way back to the teachings of Plato in the 3rd century.
For centuries, people have been using the soul mate idea as grounds to break up or even divorce . A person becomes unhappy in a relationship, then claims they are obviously not with “the one” and should therefore break up. At that point, they feel they can justify the search for their “true” soul mate.
In Greek mythology, each person was purportedly half of one larger being, separated at birth by destiny. Life’s quest was to find one’s other half and recombine in order to become a whole entity. While the Greeks may have painted a poetic picture of true love, does it really apply to people now? The probability of anyone believing that each of us is literally “one half” of a single larger human being is slim—however, many of us do like to think we are part of a perfect pair that meshes on every level—spiritual, physical, and emotional.
Today, whether or not one believes in the concept of having a soul mate depends on one’s definition of the term, so just what is a soul mate? Is it someone to whom you are immediately drawn? Is it someone you feel that you absolutely cannot live without? Or, is it someone you can communicate with freely, with whom you feel a deep level of comfort, connection and trust, and that nearly every moment you spend with this person offers happiness and contentment?
My One and Only
There are several inherent dangers in putting too much credence in the “soul mate” concept, because the idea that there is one, and only one “right” person out there for us is fraught with romantic landmines and unrealistic aspirations.
By thinking that there’s only one perfect pairing for you, you’ve already limited yourself from being open to potential partners who might actually make a great love match, if given the opportunity to grow into a relationship. To dismiss this potential pool of lovers out of hand is to do oneself a great disservice. Those who adhere to a long laundry list of “must haves” for a mate are setting themselves up for failure, and in so doing, they are also abdicating responsibility for their inability to find Mr. or Ms. Right by refusing to view their own romantic shortcomings through the lens of reality.
Rather than recognizing and owning up to the folly of a set of rigid standards that can never be attained, they simply blame the world for its inequities. Their rationalization is “there’s no one out there for me,” when the reality is that there may be plenty of people out there, just not any so-called “perfect” ones.
What such people do not grasp is that perfection is, for the most part, an illusion. Even in the best relationships there are going to be arguments, misunderstandings, and the occasional contention. By being unwilling to accept anything other than an ideal partner, it releases them from the responsibility of finding a partner at all, and they get to play victim. On the other hand, proactive people who are looking for love understand that flaws and foibles are to be expected, and unless the issues turn out to be major, they don’t have to be deal-breakers.
Without You, I’m Nothing
Another pitfall on the soul mate track is the problem of relying on someone else to make you complete. In music, harmony can be a glorious combination of intertwining notes that, woven together, create magic. However, if you’re in a duet and have a tin ear and a voice best used for cooling soup, no amount of mastery from the other performer is going to make up for that.
There’s an old adage that says, “The sum is greater than the whole of its parts.” When you’re fortunate enough to make a connection based on an equal, healthy partnership that favors mutual input, nothing could be more true. What each person brings to such a relationship not only enhances the well-being of the other, but is the fuel that helps love thrive and last.
Conversely, if only one partner is contributing to the equation, the result is often an unhealthy balance of power that can manifest itself in either abuse, dependence—or both. Feeling that you simply “can’t live without” another person isn’t a sign that you’ve found your soul mate, it’s a red flag that your own self-esteem may be lacking. If you feel you need “fixing” in order to be complete, it’s up to you to take care of that, not your lover.
Soul Check Mate
Whether or not you believe in having one soul mate, there are certain signs that you are on the right track for making a long-lasting love connection. Here are some things to look for:
- Mutual Respect: You value your lover’s thoughts and opinions, and rather than just hearing what they have to say, actually listen to their input. Rather than “not knowing where one leaves off and the other begins,” you have shared dreams, values, and goals that dovetail almost seamlessly, and assure that the relationship continues to flourish and intensify.
- Stronger and Stronger: The more time you spend with your lover, the more intense your attachment becomes. Passion seems to grow, rather than wane.
- Delight: Not every minute of every day, of course, but in the overall scheme of things, though he or she might not be perfect, your partner’s presence fills you with joy.