It’s a sweet idea, isn’t it? — The idea that there is someone out there who is a perfect match; who understands you completely, totally accepts you for who you are, is emotionally stable and sexually exciting, and with whom communication is so easy and natural that you never have conflict. Yeah. It’s a sweet idea.
It’s also an idea that causes unrealistic expectations and disappointment in love. Believing it sends people on a search that is bound to fail. Even when people find someone they believe to be the mate of their soul, they are more often than not disappointed once they truly get to know them.
Think about it: If there is only one someone out there who is your perfect match, the chance of finding him or her (or of that person finding you) is almost impossible. There are billions of people in the world. Who’s to say that your soul mate doesn’t live in another city or country? Maybe the perfect person for you is 20 years older or 8 years younger or not the gender you think you need or speaks a language you don’t understand. The two of you will be unhappily searching for each other in all the wrong places.
Even if, by chance, you do somehow find someone who seems absolutely right on an almost cellular level, it’s likely that your certainty that you’ve found your soul mate will fade once the fizz of initial romantic love meets the demands of daily reality. Love that lasts is love that mellows and accommodates all the little irritations and imperfections of the partner.
So give it up. The notion of a “soul mate” is the stuff of romantic movies and romance novels. A search for that one in a billion guy or gal is a fantasy that is likely to prevent you from finding and keeping love that is true.
But all is not lost. Yes, there is such a thing as love that lasts. There is such a thing as love that is deeply satisfying and mutually sustaining; where each person cherishes, appreciates and supports the other; where each person helps the other grow; where each helps the other become the soul mate they want and need.
How do you find it? By working at it. Yes, working. Like most things, success in finding and sustaining love requires the willingness to put in the effort to make it so. It involves honest self-evaluation and the willingness to change. It involves compassionate understanding and support for the beloved.
One caveat: All bets are off if abuse is in the equation. No matter how charming someone may be, they are not the material for soul-mating if they are verbally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abusive. If you have come to care for an abuser, get out as quickly and as safely as you can. Yes, some abusive people are capable of making fundamental changes. But take distance until you see strong evidence that the person has done it.
Nurturing a Soul Mate Relationship
It’s unlikely that you will find a soul mate but you can make one and be one. Once you and someone else click; once you both decide that a relationship is really, really promising, you can make each other into a mate for your soul.
- Look in the mirror. Making a soul mate relationship first requires that you each be the kind of person that someone else wants to meet soul to soul. Are you each trustworthy, kind, and considerate? Are you willing to sometimes put your partner’s needs before your own?
- Do you each have a reasonable list of non-negotiables? It’s highly unlikely you will find someone who matches your every want. Everyone has issues and limitations. Can you each let go of some of the attributes you thought were essential when you consider the whole person?
- Do you share fundamental values? I’m not talking about what religion or which political party you belong to. Values are even deeper than those practices. Do you, for example, share values like honesty, trustworthiness, the importance of community, and/or financial stability, etc.?
- Do you share a definition of what it means to be sexually and emotionally faithful? Soul mates are clear about the boundaries for their relationship and commit to being true to them – no matter what. When temptations happen (and they often do), they don’t act of them. They talk to each other about what was amiss that made the temptation so tempting.
- Do you both communicate what you want and need in a loving way? Or do you expect that someone who loves you will just somehow know what you are thinking? Good soul mates are not necessarily good mind readers. But they are good responders.
- Are you both committed to dealing constructively with conflict? Conflict, and there is always conflict in even the most loving relationships, requires being in charge of your emotions and being willing to work things through. Do you know how to express your point of view without blaming or shaming? Do you know how to compromise or take turns? If it’s “your way or the highway”, people who could be your soul mate will quickly look for an exit.
- Have you each learned from past failed relationships? It’s too easy to lay the blame entirely on another person when a relationship ends badly. Except when a partner is abusive, both people have a part in a breakup. Even then, the abused person needs to examine what practical and emotional factors kept them in too long. Until you each face your part and figure out what to do differently, the chances are that you will repeat whatever it was that doomed prior relationships.
Having a relationship of mutual trust and love is possible for everyone. When both people are committed to being a worthy soul and are equally committed to the task of nurturing the other’s soul-matedness, they can have a truly special connection.