Many of us are searching for “the one,” wondering if we’ve found them, if we ever will, and how we would know if we did. It is an awful lot of pressure, finding that one perfect match. One of the most meaningful conversations I ever had on this topic was with my hairdresser. She told me she did not believe in soulmates. Instead, she believed in lifemates. Instead of just one person to move you, to shape your thoughts and your heart, there could be many. One may come into your life, even if for the most fleeting of moments, to bear witness to your life, to teach you of any number of things. It could be love, but it could also be loss and forgiveness. The idea of lifemates is one of the most profound concepts in love and relationships I’ve yet to come across.
I recall a great heartache years ago spurred by what in my mind was a betrayal. I was riddled with anger and hurt. I felt rejected and that there could be no good men left in the world. At those times of intense pain, such a broad and sweeping statement hardly seemed silly at all. That was until I met someone who was truly remarkable. He was one of the good guys. Smart, funny, and most of all, kind. He was one of those whose soul you just knew was pure. He allowed me to believe in the goodness of men again. While I came to highly value the friendship we had, in time it ended as many cross-sex relationships often do. Namely, he started dating someone. Certainly, I would have never considered it appropriate for our friendship to continue as it had in the past out of respect for his new relationship.
Though initially the loss was a very sad one, it also reminded me of his purpose in my life at the time that I met him. He taught me many things, but namely, of goodness. And while I would have liked to have kept him in my life, I came to realize a freeing reality. He too was one of my lifemates. He entered at a time when I was very angry and resentful, and brought some much needed joy and laughter to my life. Hence, while his exit was difficult, a belief in this concept of lifemates was liberating. It allowed him to have a special place in my life forever, without his stay needing to be as such. Should things have turned out differently between us, whose to say this ending wasn’t the most civil of others possible anyway?
It is a challenge to think in these ways. Typically in various relationships there is dating, a breakup, maybe even a rebound. There is crying, anger, sadness, shock, any number of emotions related to the experience of loss and grief. But often seeing my female therapy clients struggle with the heartache of loss for years, I propose a new way of looking at it.
Why let go entirely, and stamp out every trace of a guy? Why keep none of the good and focus on the bad in an attempt to hate him and move on? This only ends up paining ourselves in the end. Resentment after all is a bitter poison that we drink that does nothing to affect he who has wronged us. What if then we let go of the notion that he was our one and only? Instead we may embrace the fact that he may have just been one of the many sages to light our path in the journey of life. Moving from the idea of soulmates to lifemates ultimately brings us more hope and less pain. We need not cling desperately to one person, living in fear of loss or rejection. We need not even worry that we missed him entirely, that we ignored a “sign,” or lost our chance. In opening our hearts as widely as we can, we can only allow in more love and compassion, for little is the possibility that in caring we ever truly lose out.