Stop Searching for Your Soul Mate
We all want to find our soulmate. That’s the love story that Hollywood sells us. Romance novels and romantic comedies give us example after example of people finding their soulmates. We want to find someone we can love forever. Maybe we’ve seen the pain and heartbreak of breakups and divorces and we just want someone who’s going to stick by our side. We want to be loved by someone who knows our whole story.
A 2011 poll revealed that 73% of Americans believe that they are destined to find one, true soulmate. 79% of people under the age of 45 want a soulmate. So if you desire to find that one special person, the perfect match, you’re not alone.
But that desire for a soulmate may actually be causing more harm than good in your love life.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be convinced that you are loved and lovable. But there is something wrong with looking for your soulmate. Here are four quick reasons why you should stop searching the search for your soulmate (and what you should do instead!):
1. Believing in soul mates hurts the success of your relationship
“People who hold strong beliefs in destiny are prone to lose interest in their partner much faster than others and are likely to give up much more easily when the relationship looks a bit less rosy,” explains Dr. Bjarne Holmes. “If you believe that ‘we’re either meant to be together or we’re not’ then you’re more likely to see negative things in your relationship as an indicator that perhaps that ‘special one’ actually isn’t your true soul mate after all. Perhaps you were simply mistaken: if you were meant for one another, then why should you have to work so hard at the relationship?”
If you believe that the person you’re dating is your soulmate, you’ll may fall into the trap of thinking they’re also a mind reader. After all, if they’re the one person you can fall in love with, shouldn’t they automatically know everything about you? Assumptions about the other person will harm your relationship and your general contentment with your love life.
2. No one is going to be a perfect match
I’ve interacted with many couples as friends and in ministry, but I’ve yet to find a ‘perfect couple’. This is simply because no one is perfect. Not only that, but your ‘perfect match’ will evolve and change as you change and age. What you look for in a spouse as twenty year old is different from the traits and characteristics that you desire in a relationship in your forties.
“I’ve been in many long-term relationships, including a marriage. I’ve made mistakes. I have compared. I’ve looked over the fence. I’ve loved soft. I have been selfish. I’ve searched for ‘perfect.’ I have tried to change people, and control people. I’ve lost. I have learned. I’ve grown. I have gone to therapy—even became a therapist. And even through all that, I am still learning. I still struggle. I still get confused. I am still afraid. I still don’t know all the secrets to love and dating and relationships. But there is one thing I know for sure: No one’s perfect,” writes therapist John Kim.
“Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s a mirage created by advertising and a fantasy we’ve been holding onto since we were taping posters of our teen crushes to our bedroom wall,” Kim continues. No one person can complete you, no matter how many great qualities they have. They can be genuine, kind, and considerate, but they’ll still have their flaws.
3. Searching for your soul mate actually can make you resentful about love
It’s tempting to think that there’s only one person you can be truly happy with. But science proves that those thoughts lead to disappointment and unhappiness. Research even suggests that believing in soulmates will backfire.
“There is research that shows that people who believe in ‘destiny’ put less effort into working through relationship conflict,” Benjamin Le, the chair of the department of psychology at Haverford College explains. “The idea here is that if we are soul mates, then nothing will go wrong in our relationship, and it will be easy. A conflict makes a destiny-believer question whether the current partner is actually their soul mate, and then they give up on working it out.” But if you see your relationship as a journey, you’ll “see a disagreement as an opportunity for the couple to grow closer as they work it out together.”
4. Love is a decision, not a feeling
“People who believe in romantic destiny (soul mates) primarily look for positive emotional reactions and initial compatibility with a partner,” writes Dr. Jeremy Nicholson. “They believe people either ‘click’ and are meant to be, or they don’t and should move on. As a result, those beliefs tend drive soul mate searchers to be intensely passionate and satisfied with partners at first, particularly while things are compatible.”
But love isn’t just about emotions or feelings. Relationships are meant to be a space to discern your vocation to marriage, not just a relationship built on feelings in the moment.
You decide to love when the person you’re dating disappoints you but asks for forgiveness. The decision to love is made when your boyfriend or girlfriend shares with you a part of their story that they’ve never shared with anyone else, but they trust you with that part of them. You decide to love the good and the bad moments, because your call in a relationship is to help the other person reach Heaven.
“Love itself demands preparation, which makes possible a free, generous and sober decision to enter into a life-long covenant of love,” Pope Francis says. Love doesn’t happen at first sight or instantaneously. Instead, it’s a decision that’s made time and time again.
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."