I was asked the other day if I believe in soul mates. And at one o’clock in the morning I couldn’t muster a better answer than, “Yes and no.”
Yes…I think there are people we connect with on some basic, innate plane that can’t be explained in any simple measure and so we can use the term soul mate.
No…because the typical concept of soul mate is that there is only one soul mate. One person you are meant to be with and generally be with in a romantic relationship.
The question and its context has had me thinking for the past few days about the idea of soul mates. And what do I do when I think non-stop about something? Why I read about it, ponder some more and then write about it of course. 🙂
All knowing Wikipedia says: A soulmate (or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, sex, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility.
I like that one. As it suggests that the relationship can be something other than romantic. And it doesn’t automatically assume that there is only one to whom we can have this feeling. The idea that there is one person that is ideally suited for me and only me bothers me. How do you know you’ve found the person? How do you even go about finding that one person when there are 6,973,738,433 people in the world? (World Bank)
My personal experience has been one that suggests there are people we connect with on some unexplainable level. Not always romantically and not always forever. We as people constantly change and often two people in any type of relationship change in ways that draw them apart. The once incredibly easy conversation and “just knowing” the other has faded. If the relationship had any salt to it, then it survives the transition.
So, to me, a soul mate is anyone who at that moment in time, gets you as no one else does. Who understands you without having to try. Who accepts all you are. But a real relationship will always require work at some point. As life progresses and people change so will the way they interact and how they see each other. And that’s ok. Anything with value is worth effort.
And I’m happy to say that this philosophy is apparently a healthy one. I found this article from Psychology Today that sites research showing those who hold fast to the one true soul mate ideal usually don’t have long lasting relationships. It’s a short but interesting read.
“Subsequent research supports these differences. Particularly, those who believe in soul mates tend to be less committed to a partner, particularly when there are relationship difficulties (Knee, Patrick, Vietor, & Neighbors, 2004). Also, soul mate believers are often more anxious in relationships and less likely to forgive romantic partners (Finkel, Burnette, & Scissors,2007). Overall, when the going gets tough with a partner, or requires work, soul mates tend to quit and look for the next “perfect” match.”
That definitely isn’t me or anyone I’d want to be. I know I’m far from perfect. I don’t realistically expect perfection from anyone else…not even in the sense that they are “perfect for me”.
I guess to sum it up…I believe we can have intense, instant bonds with other people. But I also believe that a relationship worth having, romantic or otherwise, will require something other than an idea of a soul mate. It requires a bit of (or a lot of) work, compromise and forgiveness. I will mess up. I think it’s safe to assume you will, too. No matter how “perfect” we are for each other.