Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The Myth of the Soulmate

I used to believe in the concept of a "Soulmate", but not anymore. In fact, I have come to see that a belief in such a concept can be quite harmful (and perhaps even keep us from developing our very own soulmate-like relationship). I think buying into the concept of a perfect soulmate can be harmful in two ways:
1. It can keep people who are in relationships from investing in their current relationship and from committing to the other person (these are people with active commitment issues), and
2. (most importantly) It can encourage people who are looking for a relationship to look for excitement and passion rather than what feels safe and secure (and thus maybe also "boring" to some), which almost guarantees that they will choose the wrong partner (e.g. someone who seems exciting, but is unwilling, unable or unavailable to make a commitment). Because in the end, what matters most is that we feel safe and at ease with somebody. Excitement will wear off quickly; usually within 3 months. What comes after that (or remains after that) is the love connection we can build with the other person, if both individuals are willing and there are enough building blocks between them. But people with active issues who are looking for a soulmate might give up too soon on a relationship, even if it has real soulmate-quality-potential, because it may take some time and effort to develop. And soulmate seekers with passive issues might stay in unhealthy relationships for (far) too long, or start relationships they shouldn't start, because they keep hoping that their partner will change (usually either that the partner will want to commit or that they will transform into the soulmate they've been looking for).
I’ve been stuck at 2 most of my life (as a passive seeker), and always seemed to come across men who were either unwilling to make a commitment (sometimes despite a great, deep and intimate connection (this is the most painful)), or were a serious mismatch with me due to a major difference in values or lifestyle, which I always thought I could "fix". Coming to the realization that all my relationships were doomed from the start was both tragic and freeing, because now I can (and will) change it! Goodbye Dreams; welcome Reality...
Now, instead of dreaming about an elusive "perfect" Soulmate that I can either try to find or (more likely) try to create, I simply see myself as having things in common with other people; and I have more in common with some than with others. What matters most when we are looking for a partner, is that we have the right things in common with them; those things that matter most (mainly important values, age group and lifestyle choices). This will not only prevent conflict about major decisions (as much as possible), but will also make you both feel safe and secure in each other's presence. On top of that, I think a willingness to grow and learn (for both partners individually as well as a willingness to grow together in the relationship) is very important. And of course honesty and openness with a healthy, loving communication style (such as NVC).
By the way, after you give up the dream, the result is still more or less the same: You still meet the same people, but you might take a bit more time to assess whether you actually want to be in a relationship with them, also allowing the relationship more time to grow and mature at a more natural pace, without rushing toward relationship milestones. And the relationship you get into might still be (or become) the best you have ever had, and even better than you may have imagined it.... and it will be with a Real person (not with a fantasy or image of a person). So even if you don't feel magic instantly, it doesn't mean you can't create it or build it, together, in real life!
You, too, might be stuck in life due to the soulmate-myth, if:
- You tend to fall in love with a fantasy image rather than a real person that has strengths as well as flaws.
- You feel like your relationships are often one-sided, with you (or the other person) doing most of the work to keep the relationship going and keep it healthy.
- You see someone's "potential" to be a good partner rather than what they actually present to you right now in the moment... (Almost) everyone has potential, but not everyone is ready right now! Are you ready now? Then seek someone who is ready now, too.
- In the beginning of a relationship, you focus on what you want to hear and want to see, and filter out all the rest.
- You sabotage all (or some of) your relationships (especially when they are going well, or reach a more stable point).
- You engage in excessive fault-finding (about unimportant and sometimes unreasonable things).
- You break up with someone for a quality that was already present at the beginning and that may have even attracted you to them at first.
- Your relationships always seem to be lacking a feeling of "equality" in some important area.
- And you don't have to be single to have these issues either: some people stay in unhealthy relationships for a lifetime or hang on to unhealthy patterns within their relationships for too long.
If you recognize any of these points, I recommend that you read: He's Scared, She's Scared. This book is an absolute treasure, and I wish I had found (and read) it years ago. It's a valuable book for anyone to read, as commitment issues (whether passive - rushing into commitment without a reality check - or active - fear of commitment) is such a common thing these days, and seems to only become more and more common. It is also one of the most painful things anyone can experience in their lifetimes (if you're the passive partner), and to have to go through it over and over is absolute torture. So end your suffering and learn about this, question your thoughts and gain a renewed sense of peace in (your quest for) love.
A little side-note, and a comforting thought in case you have longed for a soulmate for a long time, and therefore are hesitant to give up the dream for that reason: There is indeed one Real Soulmate, already with you, since day one... 
I am sure you know who that is... 
It's you! You're the one. You've always been there with you. Can you be there for you as well, at all times? 
Love yourself first, don't abandon yourself, listen to yourself and stay with you at all times, and then you'll always choose right. It can sometimes become harder to listen to (= act on) our own inner voice when we're around someone we really like (especially in the infatuation stage), but as with anything: It will get easier with practice, and patience. So practice patience!