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Posted Jan 03, 2011
"love is easy when someone seems perfect---but love is better when you are able to love someone in spite of their imperfections"
I LOVED this sentence.
Realizing that buying into such myth had made me lonely and unhappy is what brought me to Pedro. Best decision ever!
Great article, as always!
Thanks, Marcela. I do think it is a huge insight when we come to understand that imperfect love can be more perfect.
Writing a letter not to harm oneself is not going to help the person and very often can hurt them more.
I would be very happy to read where you got your statistics. According to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences the request for a patient to sign a "do not harm agreement" is a standard and beneficial practice.
Your patients are lucky you are so attentive to key words and phrases. What do you think of best friends as an alternative to soul mates? My sweetie is my best friend. I used to use the phrase soul mate, but don't anymore. I had a habit of seeing my ideal mate in the other person instead of seeing the actual person.
Seeing the other person for who they really are is a much better place to start the relationship from.Ideals are hard to live up to.
Soul mate... Very scary words indeed... Fairy tales... Very scary as well...
Great way to start the year, Tracey! I loved this blog!
Thanks, Lena! Fairy Tales usually have pretty dark endings. I think we forget that when we say " Fairy Tale Romance".
Is it OK to say the words "Soul Mate" before you get married?
I think it is best not to. But your milage my vary. I tend to believe it is better to see the other as a person and less divine, that way the predictable disappointments that will occur in those early bliss-filled days won't feel like a sign that the person isn't right for you----rather that whatever conflict occurs is an area of potential growth and opportunity for real human communication.
I graduated from fantasy land awhile ago and never use the "soulmate" word anymore. Unfortunately I keep attracting men that think this is real. The last guy I dated only watch movies like Serendipity and What Dreams may come, I love these movies too but they are just movies not a guide to finding love in life. Is this soulmate sickness more with men or women or is it equal?
I so enjoyed reading this. And your description of Dr. Phil was priceless!
Bella DePaulo, fellow PT blogger
The type of love that you described from the Symposium was that of Aristophanes. While you disagree with this form of love, I was wondering if you would advocate a form of love centered on Diotima's ladder (also found in the Symposium).
Seeing someone as a soul mate, or in fact even searching for one, the idea of not settling for less than perfection, sets one up for failure and disappointment as well as frees one from any effort or obligation. It is a fairy tale dream in a world and society that seems to cling to closely to its fairy tales.
I think your phrase "if there was such a thing as soul mates it is my sense that would mean that being in relationship would make you grow and expand your soul" gets to the crux of the matter. And expanding souls is hard work.
Jungian analyst, has written a brilliant book on this theme: Impossible Love. It helped me immeasurably after my soul mate and I became what might have been predicted. I was, after all, an experienced counselor and woman...
Cochlea, incus, and malleus? Girl, I am blushing to the roots of my hair. I was raised not to talk about those things!
I beg to differ on the subject of soul mates. Mine is handsome, loyal, brave, strong, fun, intelligent, and after seven years together, he is everything i ever hoped he might be, and then some. And he is happy to eat kibble and sleep on the rug. ;-)
Brilliant post. I too shiver when I hear the words soulmate. Being married is hard work and often times not easy. You make the commitment and you stick with it. Dr. Phil makes me want to puke. I sometimes would like to smack his smug face. I like what you have said here.
It is good for people in a relationship to be grounded, i.e. have realistic views as opposed to that which tends to border the line of fantasia. Farts, burps or puke are what among others makes a person 'human' though when you think of it grosses the hell of you out. NOT the idea of perfection when you first met a person and thinks he/she is your soul mate. More often than not, the words soul mate will open a can of worms. Having said that, if one has a perceived idea that the ugliness exist and sometimes PERSIST, and one then decides one will live and tolerate ugliness, MAYBE one is ready for a relationship. Only at most times it doesn't come in fancy dandy packaging. After all, nothing is perfect. Perfection lays with the divine, and also is subjective to each individual.
Writing a letter or signing an agreement can only be done when a person FEELS. And COMMITS. When he/she doesn't feel/commit, that's when he/she begins to hurt him/herself.
Well said. I think another issue embedded in the idea of "soul mate" is not just that we will find a perfect person, but that we will find someone who thinks we ourselves are perfect. Beyond the inherent unfairness in expecting one's partner both to be perfect and to settle for someone who isn't, looking for a soul mate is a great way to pretend there's nothing about oneself that could use a little improvement. Very dangerous indeed.
I think you have a wrong image of what a soul mate is or can be. Probably because you've never met one yourself and neither have your patients.
I have met three soul mates in my life. People who know how I feel, without words or with very few words. People who are a mirror to me, who are able to confront me with myself. It happens that I don't talk to, see or hear my soul mates for years. They do live at quite a big distance of me too, which makes it not easy to visit them regularly.
At the moments in my life when I'm feeling at my worst, they suddenly pop back up in my life. They feel there's something wrong and they are there when I need them the most.
There is a strong connection between us which I can't describe. I don't know if it's intuition or telepathy but somehow we're connected with each other. Sometimes our lifes have similar patterns, we're going through the same things, but not necessarily at the same time.
And no, I don't think my soul mates are completing me as my other half. I don't see them as a possible partner. They are people who put me back on track when I'm too blind to see what's happening in my life. They look through me, like I look through them. It's like we're related, like family, but on another level. That's what soul mates really are.
What might alarm you here is that those people are somehow replacing a therapist in my life. Where a therapist approaches people theoretically (I know what I'm talking about, I've been there once), my soulmates know what we're talking about, because they feel it and often have gone through it themselves.
"Soul mate" makes me cringe. Now that I think of it, "soul" makes me cringe.
People are people, with thoughts, feelings and intent. I don't believe in "souls."
I do think people can find excellent matches, but as you so deftly point out, no match is "perfect," as no person is perfect, and we all have our shortcomings, downfalls, insecurities, and problems.
The key, I think, in a loving relationship, is to work toward acceptance of your partner, warts and all.
I am still working on this.
I want to print this out and put it in the break room at work. I have a co-worker who announced her New Year's resolution is to find her "soul mate" and I cringed inside. Maybe a good alternative is a "sole mate"--the ones we have to travel with, walk over or have walk over us before we (hopefully) get it right.
I've always wondered about this idea of 'Soul Mates,' or at least the way we have come to understand it in modern day. I haven't known what to think of it one way or the other. I personally have never had that experience, and I have wondered if I ever will.
Your article speaks to what I do know, that is relationships are not always easy and require a lot of love and work... but can be worth the trip. The dreamy fairytale stuff has escaped me, thus far...
Thanks so much Tracey for what you share.
If people spent the same amount of time and energy learning to play a musical instrument or learning new languages as they do looking for perfect love the world would be a better place.
It is also possible, and perhaps consistent with the original Myth, to consider the Soul Mate as the hidden part of one's Self. Finding the Soul Mate would be gaining self-knowledge, something that often takes a very long time. A well integrated person who loves himself/herself and acknowledges all aspects of his/her personality would see and know that person inside. That Soul Mate would truly know and understand you.
I prefer Joseph Campbells description of a spouse as a mystery, especially the way he describes the mistake so many make in believing that marriage is a love affair. I believe strongly in love within a marriage, but have witnessed it grow beyond the type felt at the beginning of the relationship, beyond a love affair (which typically burns out) to a more mature, deep love. Campbell describes this type of love forming in arranged marriages, which sounds strange to Western ears. My wife, who often makes me cringe slightly when calling me her soulmate, recently slipped up and disclosed to calling an ex boyfriend and asking him to come to her mother's funeral. Even though I don't believe in soulmates like she does, this betrayal feels like a dealbreaker, and I cringe more than usual as she cries out for her "soulmate." I am disgusted by the hypocrisy and betrayal, as even though I don't believe in Aristophanes' description (he said we used to have 4 arms & legs, then were cut and recognize our "other halves") I think trust is central to a relationship. Since mine's gone I think our relationship is too, soulmate or not.
The spelling is "S-O-U-L" not "S-O-L-E". To assume these terms are interchangeable is the first mistake, and perhaps the cause of your over reaction. It would be a service to your clients to listen to their definition of the word before jumping conclusions. I gather you also do not believe in a soul or spirit, for if you did this concept would not be as alarming. Soul mates are people we resonate with on a deeper level beyond superficially i.e. mere looks and sexual compatibility (a far better indicator for future failed unions. You may feel a connection as though the two of you were cut from the same swatch. This, however, does not guarantee a "perfect" marriage. Part of being each other's Ying and Yang (soul mates) is polarity as well as similarity, both attracting and repulsing in balance. Knowing and accepting this is pertinent in any relationship. Additionally, to connect on a spiritual level with another does not guarantee permanence. We encounter different types of soul mates day in and out. Some are there for a moment in time, others for the long haul. All serve a purpose - to enlighten us in one way or another. Additionally - a soul mate does not complete you but rather compliments who you already are in a positive fashion. If these are signs of doom and gloom, fodder for divorce lawyers as you seem to indicate, it is indeed a sad state of affairs. As another person commented, you would not recognize a soul mate if you have never met one. There is far more substance to them than a coined term. I've been married to my soul mate for 30 years - so much for you orange warning sign.
While I agree with much of what was said in this blog post, I find the interpretation of Plato, or misinterpretation, makes me cringe.
To leave the cave one must give up those childish ideas that trick us into accepting shadows as real while turning away from what is most meaningful. Beware though, those that are mesmerized don't tend to like the messenger.
My favorite part of the soul mate allegory is that some of the two headed beings had two male heads, some two female, and some one of each. Also read it again, mercy is what caused the two halfs to be split. Fear is what caused them to be turned back to back, never able to comfort or enjoy each other. I think there is a message in that worth notice.
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