Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Is the Soul Mate Myth Harming Us?

Did it have to be you?

"It had to be you

It had to be you

I wandered around

And finally found  the somebody who

Could make me be true, could make me be blue,

And even be glad, just to be sad, thinking of you."

The idea of the "soul mate" has permeated American society. American movies, songs and television shows celebrate the idea that there is that special someone  for us destined by Fate  who was made for us and will make us complete. The religious among us are especially vulnerable to this notion, although there is no scriptural basis for it in the Old or New Testament. But even the non-religious have been known to fall for the idea that there is someone out there who will provide the intimacy, companionship and understanding they have always yearned for.

The problem with the idea of the soul mate is that the notion is so subjective, emotional and epheremal. Infatuation can delude a couple into thinking they have found their soul mate when they are practically strangers and propel a weak liason  by two lovers based on physicial attraction, charm and approval seeking into irreversible commitment.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

A study  by University of Virginia Sociologist Brad Wilcox  supports this view that the myth of the soul mate may indeed be harmful to America. Professor Wilcox  found that over 60% of men and women in the USA believe in soul mates, but these true believers are 150% more likely to divorce  that the romantic sceptic.

In our book and blog we make the case that America has been transformed by the media of film, music and television in the last century to seek these weak "soul mate" marriages. These unions  inevitably lose momentum after the dreamy honeymoon period  fades into the  harsh reality of everyday humdrum existence. Then the partners are left with a bad taste of disappointment that their soul mate wasn't all that after all. The internet wag "Zorro" put it best:" For whatever reason you love your wife or husband- be it good looks, money, status, their personality- whatever- I promise you will encounter numerous people with a greater abundance of those very characteristics throughout your marriage. Commitment in marriage is exactly this: can you learn to live with and love a person who has a bit less of that special something, or are you willing to abandon someone in order to trade up? Because, man or woman, you will absolutely face that question if you wear a ring. And often more than once." Wise insight indeed!

 

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

more...

Subscribe to Repairing Relationships

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?