A soulmate might just be a figment of your mind. Sometimes our minds play tricks on us to make us believe that we have found a soulmate. However, there are some of us who refuse to put faith into the very concept of ‘finding a soulmate’.
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” wrote Emily Brontë in ‘Wuthering Heights’. Such is the concept of soulmates — a mate for your soul, the other half of your tangible heart, the piece that you’re missing to complete you. But is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? In a world inhabited by 7.7 billion diverse individuals, what are your chances of finding ‘the one’? Even if you were to find ‘the one’, what are the chances that they’ll stick around and won’t leave you for good? What are the chances that they won’t change?
‘The Symposium’ by Plato says, “According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” This might sound romantic to some. To me, the idea of a jumbo human with humongous limbs being the origin of me and my partner seems comical enough, to begin with. Now, does it also make sense to keep looking for your ‘mythic other’ in this modern world with a population crossing 7 billion?
SOULMATES AND DESTINY
In his research ‘Implicit Theories Of Relationships’, C. Raymond Knee categorises people in two groups — those who believe in the concept of the destined other and those who believe in growing a relationship. According to him, a belief in destiny holds that potential partners are either meant for each other or not. A belief in growth, on the other hand, holds that successful relationships are cultivated and developed. There is a thing called ‘The Soulmate Trap’ — those who believe in destiny tend to invest more energy in looking for that ‘right’ person than building a strong footing out of the heterogeneous bag of people around them.
Dr Joseph Cilona, a licensed clinical psychologist in Manhattan says, “I feel strongly that the entire notion of soulmates is totally toxic, completely false, and that the expectations and beliefs that it fosters can very often sabotage relationships and undermine for many the quest for healthy romantic love.” The believers in the destiny of love jump quickly into the pit of endearment as soon as they ‘feel’ the connection with a person. This is when ‘confirmation bias’ is at play. Psychologists believe that the mind tricks the destiny believers into falling for the first signs they encounter in a person for being their soulmate. The first thing they look in a person, which may come naturally, is compatibility. And as soon as that compatibility is sensed, the person starts believing that the soulmate is found.
Even for the destiny believers who are already in a long-term relationship with their soulmates, the slightest discomfort and increasing issues lead them to a notion that the compatibility has been lost and they must move on. Freud’s quote — “We are never so vulnerable as when we love” — comes into play in the psychology of the soulmate seekers. They, in fact, look for complexities or danger signs or red flags to evacuate from a (potential) relationship and to keep on seeking their ‘compatible other’.
PRACTICALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS
On the other hand, the growth relationship believers tend to make the best out of any given situation, according to C. Raymond Knee’s analyses. Even at the developing stages of a relationship, this set of people is more motivated to find solutions to the given situation, compromise or explore and adjust to new ideas. For them, the idea of adjusting to new situations (different personalities) is growth. They grow in any relationship with the idea of ‘let us work this out’.
Growth believers are better communicators at any time. If they find complexities or danger signs in a relationship, instead of evacuating they face the given situation, communicate, and grow stronger out of the same. There is a motivation for making a relationship work instead of looking for the next best option. Therefore, the growth believers are doing cultivation and optimisation at the same time, of which the product is a healthy, strong and nurtured relationship.
Often it is believed that love is not true love if the person has to change himself. I say, what is the harm in constant changes? I say, in love people grow. People change. People grow with each other. Then, the concept of a soulmate who is the ‘compatible other’ stands null and void.
Now, if you go mathematically, the chances of you finding a soulmate are pretty slim. American cartoonist, author, engineer, scientific theorist, Randall Munroe explores in his book ‘What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’ that soulmates, if they exist, are quite impossible to find in life. “Let’s suppose you lock eyes with an average of a few dozen new strangers each day,” writes Munroe. “If 10 per cent of them are close to your age, that’s around 50,000 people in a lifetime. Given that you have 500,000,000 potential soul mates, it means you’ll only find true love in one lifetime out of 10,000.”
The cartoonist side of Munroe also comments, “We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth. You know nothing about who they are or where they are, but — as in the romantic cliché — you’ll recognise each other the moment your eyes will meet.
Right away, this raises a few questions. For starters, is your soulmate even still alive? A hundred billion or so humans have ever lived, but only seven billion are alive now (which gives the human condition a 93% mortality rate). If we’re all paired up at random, 90% of our soul mates are long dead.” He concludes, “A world of random soul mates would be a lonely one. Let’s hope that’s not what we live in.”
Therefore, one mustn’t see a soulmate as someone who is his/her ‘other half’ or the ‘better half’. In fact, a soulmate isn’t someone who was bestowed upon us by some higher spiritual power. A soulmate is someone we create in the journey of life. One’s soulmate is one’s fellow traveller in the journey of love. “You get married, and after twenty years of loving, bearing, and raising kids, and meeting challenges, you’ll ‘create’ your soulmate,” says Dr Diane Sollee, MSW, the founder and director of the Washington, DC-based Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE), LLC.
THE JOURNEY EXPLANATION
Look at your parents, grandparents, or long-term partners who have been together for a long time. Talk to them if they believe they are each others’ soulmates. You might be surprised to find that happy couples have several different marriages within their marriage. They know each other to the levels that no one else will understand, and it’s not because God planned their ‘compatibility’, but because in spite of being radically different people they have spent a long journey together. The journey has made them soulmates. Their support and understanding that must have grown through the years of hardships made them soulmates. So, soulmates aren’t born, they are made through the journey.
The healthier way to approach relationships is to envision your partner as a person who is as deeply flawed as you are and deserve the same amount of warmth and care as you do. They aren’t your soulmates, they are the ones who are here with you in your journey, and you must fall and get up together a number of times to grow individually and as a couple.
A person may or may not be compatible with you. But a person must be given a chance to prove or you must give yourself a chance to realise a partner’s worth that even though he/she isn’t someone who shares your idea of a perfect one, but still can keep you happier in other general aspects.
In an intense, healthier relationship, two individuals create something deeper and better than themselves, yet they are still themselves. For a relationship to flourish as the couple ideally desires, one must also grow as an individual and not lose himself/herself. Now, everyone would agree that intimacy is one of the most important building blocks of a relationship. And what is intimacy? It is being accepting and being vulnerable. Intimacy doesn’t mean falling in love in the conventional sense of romantic infatuation, but emerging in love by understanding what makes you and your partner learn and grow together. Another undeniable truth is that people seeking soulmates as a solution to their life problems will not find their soulmate. To have a low perception of you will only act as one of the biggest obstacles in your way to a happy relationship. It is indeed very difficult to find a person who will ever satiate you in all ways — emotionally, sexually, mentally, spiritually, or intellectually. But it is necessary to understand that to throw a person out of your life just because you aren’t satiated in some ways is problematic too. Essentially, soulmates don’t come to you; you mutually turn and grow into your partner’s perfect mate or a soulmate, if you want to call it. His/her and your soul are not the same as Brontë had said: the differences in the souls create magical love for the both of you.