Do You Believe in Soul Mates? It’s Riskier Than You May Think.

“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soul mates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.” — Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

As a kid I visited a cemetery that held the remains of my great grandparents. I was only about five or six years old, but had already come to understand romantic notions of soul mates and “the one.” My parents had found “the one” in each other, after all, and seemed to know it instantly. Then there were all the episodes of General Hospital I wasn’t supposed to be watching during “nap” time. That show was riddled with soul mates!

As I wandered around perusing graves, I landed at a fairly new one for a boy with my same birthdate. As only a melodramatic child could, I decided that my soul mate had died too soon and laid buried under that mass of soil and rock. *sigh*

Broken heart with hands of adult and child isolated on white background

Do you believe in soul mates? Two thirds of Americans do, according to a recent Marist Poll, or more specifically, that “two people are destined to be together.” It’s a beautiful notion in many ways, but potentially risky in others.

Romantic comedies often portray a soul mate-like connection, two rocky paths merging to create romantic, often marital, bliss. What the films don’t show are the everyday challenges and realism that accompany long-term unions; true and lasting love takes work. Failing to recognize this brings mega risks, shows research. People who believe they’ve met their soul mate are often gleeful at first, said W. Bradford Wilcox, head author of a Social Science Research report on soul mate expectations published in 2010, but they often end up disenchanted, due to their impossibly high expectations.

Another study showed that 73 percent of married couples surveyed had settled for someone other than their one true love, “making do” because their soul mate got away. How sad is that? It gets worse. Forty-three percent of these people said they’d leave their spouse if their perceived true love appeared.

What saddens me about that statistic isn’t the fact that people would choose true love, but because I suspect that for many of them, the belief that a more wondrous love exists for them elsewhere keeps them from being fully present and growing in their current relationship. It’s easy to fantasize that Mr./Ms. Right could make life, or at least your romantic life, perfect, but is that even possible? If the grass is always greener in your soul mate daydream, won’t the grass in your own yard wilt away?

Quite possibly, yes. A study at the University of Virginia found that people who believed in soul mates were 150 percent more likely to divorce than people with realistic marital expectations. Yikes.

It seems to me that many folks long for a soul mate in order to be completed or fixed. “When I meet him/her, I’ll feel less lonely and miserable,” we might think. “The void will be filled, and I’ll finally be happy!” I’ve certainly been there in the past—but desperation to find someone attracts similar desperation and insecurity. I’ve also known guys who’ve tried to convince me I was their soul mate, seemingly as a way to have, rather than simply know or love, me.  I don’t think partners are meant to fix, complete or keep us. If that were the definition of soul mates, I suppose we should become our own. By embracing ourselves and living lives of passion, we can share a soul mate-type sparkle with most anyone—reserving the most for those we hold most dear.

Girl with cage and red heart

Love changes over time, but that doesn’t make it any less magical than sparkly Hollywood endings. When we hold reasonable expectations, we move from punch-drunk “I’m so high on you!” falling-in-love euphoria to a love that deepens over time. When we nurture all parts of that relationship and continue to work on ourselves, romance flicks can’t hold a candle to the unfolding gorgeousness.

I no longer believe that my soul mate died, leaving me to suffer alone from first grade on. But I do believe in kindred spirits, with whom we share a special connection and love of many kinds. I also believe they’re limitless in number. My husband’s one, my bulldog Zoe was one, and so are many of my friends.

When we choose to partner up with one special person for the right reasons, I’d hope that we all see them as a sole mate, and never feel we’re settling. I also hope that if that relationship ends, it’s not because someone seemingly better appears. We owe ourselves and our partners more integrity than that.

How you feel about soul mates and pre-destined love? Have your views ever changed? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

*Don’t forget to tune into Girl Boner Radio this week! Today I’ll be interviewing porn star turned actor/comedienne, Alia Janine.

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21 Comments

  1. Danny and I have never had to work at our marriage. We’ve gone through some amazing highs and life has thrown us some brutal lows. It just makes us stronger as a couple.
    I married him after going out with him for a weekend.

    I believe people cross paths to learn and grow. I’m not sure I believe in soul mates, but anyone can find a connection which can last a lifetime. It probably has more to do with personality types, background and shared beliefs.

    Reply
    • What an awesome relationship you two have! I agree with you that people can cross our paths for a reason, and can definitely relate to that instant connection. 🙂 I also think the cliche is true: we find the best people when we’re not desperately seeking (not looking), but living full lives ourselves.

      Reply
  2. Well, I found mine (you know how), and we totally believe we’ve been together many times before!

    Reply
  3. My Hubs wished for me on his 44th birthday and et me less than 2 weeks later. We think my mom sent him. 🙂

    That being said, we STILL needed counseling to have a successful road into marriage and we still go once a month. At this point, we often talk about parenting or family, but sometimes we need to work on our couple behavior.

    We both consider it the best $100 we spend each month. It works for us.

    Reply
    • I love your story, Jenny — so beautiful! You two seem so perfectly paired. My husband and I felt his mom at work with us somehow, too.

      Reply
  4. I believe in everything happens for a reason. And, since hindsight is 20/20, I believe with every fiber of my being that Lauren and I met each other A) when we were ready to meet and B) when we both NEEDED the other in our lives. Our 2-year wedding anniv is in three days. It’s been an amazing two years. But, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, “I have not yet begun to be married!!!!” Gets better and better every day.

    Reply
  5. I don’t think partners are meant to fix, complete or keep us. If that were the definition of soul mates, I suppose we should become our own. ” Absolutely brilliant, August! For me, these two sentences sum up the illusion of soul mate searching. As you say, we can share that sparkle with most anyone if the light comes first from within. Beautiful post!
    Karen

    Reply
  6. Metaphysical sources say that we have more than one “soul mate” in our lifetimes. That if you have the properly guided (find that! if you can) energy you can attract a person who is from the so-called soul matrix. A “soul mate,” kind of thing. Basically, we draw in loving relationships – whether they be life partners or close friends – by the kind of thoughts we have, and the energy we put out. I know this is getting a little deep, but you can program yourself through meditation, and at the least you’ll have loving people around you.

    Reply
  7. Raani York

     /  July 14, 2014

    You know August, you made me think. There are a few questions that came up reading your post. 1. Do I believe in Soul mates? – Yes. definitely – 2 Is there the “one and only” for me? – Yes, and I found him. .3. Did I ever meet my soul mate earlier in life – and/or did I change my mind? And there it gets confusing… This is a question I cannot answer “just like that”. I might have believed I found him – and he proved my wrong by turning into a real a$$hole and I took off. I too can be wrong sometimes. And that’s why I think, no, I haven’t found a Soul Mate before…. – But looking back I would say: a) either I missed a hell lot of Soul Mates so far or sent them to hell – or: I’m just so darn picky and waited for “the one and only RIGHT Soul Mate”, who I definitely want to stay together with for the rest of our lives that I now have to admit: waiting such a long time for the Right One is shortening the wretched, pitiful rest of our lives enormously. *sigh* 😉

    Reply
  8. I think a soul mates are compatible people who understand each other, are willing to work through the tough times, and appreciate on-going personal and spiritual (however that’s defined) growth. I don’t think it’s a fix or something magical–that gets into fairytale land and unrealistic expectations.

    When my husband and I met, I’d decided to stop looking for someone. We met a couple of weeks after that. I’d also just teased a friend about marrying her guy after knowing him for only two months. We got engaged 2 months after we met. 😀 In 22 years, we’ve had plenty of ups and downs, but we’ve grown together. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    What a thought-provoking post (as usual)!

    Reply
    • I love you definition, Diana! It suits my husband and me, too, as does finding that special someone when you’re not looking. 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!

      Reply
  9. laurie27wsmith

     /  July 14, 2014

    *looks up and waves* Hi Raani.
    Hello August, what a great post and it’s a question I’ll probably go into some depth about on my blog in the near future. I’ve read a lot about the subject of the soul in particular and soul mates in general. First off I believe that WE have to be whole in ourselves to find happiness with someone else. We can’t put our lives on hold waiting for Mr/Ms Right to come along and fix us. I’ve known several women over time who I know would have been great romantic/life partners. I know that my first wife came into my life as one big lesson, I think we showed each other that we definitely weren’t compatible. Yet, IF we had worked at it who knows what would have eventuated? Hmm, she might not have tried to stab me in the chest but that’s another story. This is where the soul bit comes in. I believe we reincarnate in groups, whether it’s family, friends or even communities. We then interact throughout life, going through all of the challenges we need to overcome. Some will challenge us on a love level, others will try to harm us or make life difficult/better/exciting. These soul companions aren’t always obvious, they could come into our lives for an hour, a year or stay until we die. They may steer us in the right direction for a job, they could be a fill-in lover to help us heal from a disastrous marriage, a parent, sibling or lifelong friend. If you end up marrying them then you’re doing okay. My second wife? Well, that’s a story in itself. I first saw her looking over the fence from her backyard into the showground where I was leading a horse for a friend. I would have been 15. The only reason I remember that is I recognised her from photos she showed me a few years ago. I met her again when she was nursing and my mother was in hospital. Then the following year ( I was 20 ) I bumped into her and we had coffee. We both married someone else within a month of each other. I met her again when I was a copper and she was with several rowdy girlfriends coming home from the races. Then when she operated a shop with her husband. This may sound strange but her deceased mother brought us together. I was well into working as a medium by then and as I entered the shop a woman appeared to me. She made her identity obvious and I told Lorelle what I’d seen. We became firm friends after that and found we had a lot in common. The rest as they say is history. Are we soulmates, as in twin flames or similar? I don’t know. What I do know is she completes me and we love and respect each other. We communicate openly, don’t have heated arguments and rarely leave each other’s side. Not because of trust issues but because we waited for so many years to be together. Oh and I’m definitely not hanging out looking for Ms Perfect.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    Reply
    • What a beautiful relationship you two have, Laurie! Thank you for sharing your inspiring path. Some things certainly seem to mind blowing to explain, in great ways. I can relate to that!

      I hope you do explore the topic on your blog. If you do, I’d love to read it!

      Reply
      • laurie27wsmith

         /  July 23, 2014

        Thanks August. It’s a great relationship because we took so long to get together I think. I’ll be looking at that subject on the blog, when I’ve run out of stories. 🙂

  10. I met my wife two decades ago this year, we ‘clicked’ when we first met and have been together ever since – despite my totally introverted writing habits, which I think are more than most people would accept.

    I can’t help thinking that ‘soul mate’ in the culturally defined western sense of ‘magic romance’, or someone who ‘fills’ whatever gap people perceive in themselves is more a social ideal than a human reality…and when people think they’ve found it, it’s the euphoria blinding them to the realities. It wears off. Better, as you say, to find completeness in yourself, look for the right person – the true kindred spirit – and move forward together. Maybe society should be nudged into re-defining ‘soul mate’ in that sense? Seems a more successful formula.

    Reply
  11. I believe in past lives and so I believe sometimes we fall in love with someone who we have loved in the past, but we can also fall in love with new people too, meet new souls and create new ‘soul mates’ to meet again in future lives.
    I also don’t believe that love fixes everything. I have loved people who weren’t good to me or for me, I have loved people who didn’t want the same things as I did. A marriage, creating a life together is so much more than love and true love is one you’re willing to work at.
    That being said, the finding you soul mate trope, esp with magical creature is one of my favorite escapes in a book 🙂

    Reply
    • Fascinating, Alica! I love the idea of past lives, and don’t dismiss the possibility. And I’m so with you on finding soul-mate connections in fiction. 🙂

      Reply
  12. I do believe in soul mates after finding my own. Everyone who knew us as a couple said we were “perfect for each other” and I completely agree. That does not mean we did not have verbal knock-down-drag-out arguments over some things. It does not mean that we agreed on everything that was important in life either. It simply means that we perfectly complemented each other and we were determined to grow old together and we worked toward that goal every day of our marriage. Now, more than 15 years after losing him, I can still say that I have had the best and do not need the rest, I am certain that I will meet up with him again in future incarnations, just as we shared past ones. I can wait.

    Reply

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