- The myth that there is one soul mate for each person can lead to unrealistic expectations.
- There are many people in the world who could be your soul mate.
- Connect with your soul's desires for a partner rather than external or superficial factors.
- Fewer people are choosing long-term relationships these days, preferring companionship and eros in other ways.
I recently wrote part 1 of this series about dispelling love and relationship myths. These delicious yet nuanced topics are always evolving with the times, but our cultural beliefs about them can be more resistant to change. The fairy tales we heard growing up regarding romance have left us with a narrow definition of love and unrealistic expectations about what’s acceptable. My last post discussed the myth that love heals all and the myth that long-term relationships are the only way to be fulfilled. Here I discuss a third myth that can cause more heartache than happiness.
Myth 3: There is one soul mate for you, and your quest is to find them.
My response: Plausible, but unrealistic.
As romantic as the idea of a soul mate is, let’s remember there are a lot of people in the world. Rarely can—or should—one person be your everything, yet this myth has led people to expect it from a partner. I once interviewed a longtime matchmaker in LA who said that clients come in with a ridiculously detailed list of expectations. It can be about status (“I’m looking for a Persian man at least 10 years older than me.”) or novelty (“I can’t possibly date anyone from my own religion or race.”) For some, it’s geographic—they’ll only date someone who lives in their part of town. People want to find their soul mate as if they’re at a salad bar—a little of this ingredient, a little of that topping, dressing on the side. Getting clear on what you desire is one thing, but expecting to “find the one” like a salad bar full of idiosyncratic ingredients is likely to leave you disappointed.
I’ve heard dating coaches preach that making a highly detailed list of what you want from a suitor will lead to finding that perfect match. I would argue that a list that doesn’t leave room for an actual human—their quirky neuroses, dissimilar preferences, and how they might surprise you—and can set you up for exasperation.
First, recognize that there may be many soul mates out there for you. Which is good news! By soul mate, I mean someone who can connect with you on a deeply authentic level rather than a superficial or transactional level.
Second, look for someone from the inside-out, rather than merely external factors. Consider how they make you feel energetically, if they make you laugh, and if they challenge you in ways that help you grow. Focus on enjoying their companionship in the moment, rather than fast-forwarding to the future or making it about what you can “get” from them.
Third, consider how close and connected you are to your own soul and your true essence. If you've lost touch with yourself, it will be harder to find someone who's right for you.
Incidentally, fewer people are choosing to seek long-term partners these days anyway, much less a soul mate. In 1950, 78 percent of the population in the United States were married, while in 2014, more than 50 percent of the population identified as single. Increasingly, people aren’t interested in getting married or even having long-term relationships.1 They want the pleasures of sex and companionship—whether it be a friend with benefits or a live-in lover—but they don’t want to bother with the institution of marriage or the supposed guarantee of a soul mate.
Look beyond the older traditional beliefs because it’s possible to experience the pleasures of emotional or physical intimacy from many kinds of connections and commitments. There isn’t one model for a marvelous relationship, and the old models are in need of some fine-tuning. In my next and final post in this series, I will discuss the myth that you should always be selfless in love and in the bedroom, ignoring your own needs. I also offer some tips for seeing your relationships as a spiritual path to bringing you deeper wisdom and satisfaction.
Stefanie Hanes, "Singles Nation: Why So Many Americans Are Unmarried," Christian Science Monitor, June 14, 2015, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0614/Singles-nation-Why-so-ma….