Our Story Begins:
Are We “Made for Each Other?”
Soulmate: n. A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.
I put this definition there and you see it . . . but the definition isn’t what you had in your head when you first read it, is it?
You saw Tom Hanks touch Meg Ryan’s hand and “it was like . . . magic” in Sleepless in Seattle.
Or . . . Harrison Ford looks into Julia Ormond’s eyes and says “because I need you . . . and I don’t need anything” in Sabrina.
Or . . . let’s go to television: Richard Castle tells Beckett he loves her . . . Carrie falls for Big . . .
That’s what you were thinking. Admit it.
Let me just give you the confounding thing about our Hollywoodistic thoughts on love by using that first example: Tom Hanks thought he had his soulmate the first time. So who is Meg Ryan? Is his soul split in twain? How’s that to blow your scenario just a little?
You may see this as a simple play on terms, a semantic argument that doesn’t really lead to much.
But a new study from the University of Toronto and the University of Southern California that turns that formula on its head, just a little.
The study postulates that those who saw themselves as “soulmates” . . . the intertwining of perfect souls, matched exactly with each other, had worse relationships than those who saw love and relationship as a journey. How, for example, if you’re perfectly suited, matched, and perfect for each other, do you explain having an argument? What do you do if you have a disagreement? Souls in perfect alignment shouldn’t be arguing, correct?
Hollywood doesn’t give us the real examples, though. It gives us happy endings. Life isn’t full of happy endings. I went out with a girl I adored once, years ago, and she didn’t feel the same way.
I married an amazing, beautiful woman . . . and she died when I was just 40 years old.
The thought so many people felt would comfort me was to tell me that “I’ll see her again one day.” That’s the “soulmate” corollary nobody talks about. I’m now 43. So I have to either get hit by a bus or wait until I die of old age until I am in love again using the soulmate math.
If there’s just one, singular person in the world for me and everyone, what happens when that person leaves? What happens if they leave to early? Worse . . . say I fall in love with a woman but tell her Andrea – my late wife – was my soulmate. What does that make this woman? What if they say the new woman is my soulmate…what was Andrea then? When Andrea passed away I did feel a piece of my soul – my heart – tear away. It’s true. But that didn’t damage it so badly it’s unable to give more.
I write here every week and in my blog that our lives are a journey, a story written by us and us alone. So given that it’s a journey, why are there only set players? Why do new players not come into the plot?
For many, the idea of a soulmate is comforting. Differences of opinion and new ideas and differing thoughts are interesting, though. They’re powerful and beautiful and expose you to things you’d never seen before.
I’m not asking you, me, or anyone to settle. You should seek out the perfect person for you. That doesn’t mean if they are gone you’re stuck having found it once and never again. “Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it,” say the study’s authors.
Love, you see, is easy. Being friends and enjoying time together for long periods . . . that’s really hard. I had that once. I’d like it again.
What about you? What’s your view? When things go badly in a relationship do you run . . . or do you remember the commitment, or the marriage vows of “better or worse, sickness and health?”