Is There a Such Thing as a Soul Mate?

soul mate

At the risk of offending, based on the typical definition, my answer is no. If you are looking for someone completely compatible, you may find someone who appears to be that way. Still, you will eventually discover it is only human for two different people to have different needs. The Gottman’s said when you choose a life partner, you are deciding what problems you are willing to live with because some will never go away. They say that about 69% of relationship problems are perpetual. Are there people you are more compatible with than others? Absolutely. Is there one and only one person who is meant for you and for whom you can breeze through life? … Experience and evidence say no. Does that mean that you and your partner can’t be great together? No. Is there exactly one and only one person the universe has chosen for you? I cannot speak for the universe, but experience says no. That doesn’t mean your deity or the universe or fate or luck or hard work hasn’t chosen a great person for you to spend the rest of your life with. Perhaps there was some divine intervention in bringing you together. Perhaps not. But, that does not mean that your relationship will not take work or that you will commit and live happily ever after.

All relationships take work. Sometimes the amount of work required increases over time. The quality of the relationship can also increase over time. If your relationship lasts, you will have struggles. There is no happily ever after in the real world. There is happiness. There is “I can’t imagine being with anybody else.” There are also trials. Having kids is very likely to bring you joy and be the best thing that ever happened to you. However, it is also likely to cause a lot of distress at times. Even the happiest couples can benefit from couples counseling or marriage counseling at some point. Maybe you are a great match but need work to be sexually compatible with your partner. Some couples have healthy relationships while doing almost everything together, while other couples prefer more time apart.

So I guess it depends on how soul mate is defined. I had a girlfriend who believed we were soul mates, and our relationship was perfect without work. I use the word “had.” If you define a soul mate as someone with whom you can weather the storms and remain intact, I think that definition can work. If a soul mate is someone you expect to fight with and struggle with at times but can remain together and even stronger throughout, the definition can work as well.

There is a difference between being in love with your partner and loving your partner. Being in love is typically much easier. The most substantial feelings often start when dating for a bit. Neuroscience tells us that for the first 2-5 years a couple is together, the area of the brain that experiences negativity is dampened when in the presence of their partner. The couple is often head-over-heels in love and does everything to impress and try to win over their partner during this phase. The couple may have fewer life responsibilities and more alone time than later in the relationship. The couple can undoubtedly remain in love as relationships progress, but the shift is often more toward loving your partner. Loving means accepting them despite their faults. Loving your partner involves different brain areas and is based more on bonding with an authentic understanding of who your partner is, faults and all. Loving your partner can create a stronger bond than what is experienced in the honeymoon phase, but it is a different kind of bond.

Sometimes, marriages don’t fail but simply come to the end of their purpose. That doesn’t mean the couple wasn’t a good fit. It can mean the couple decided it was best to choose a different future path. Some people marry young and stay together for life. Some people marry young and soon find that their future goals aren’t compatible. Premarriage counseling can be helpful for making sure your marriage is likely to last for the long haul. So, it all depends on what you think it means to have a soul mate, but please don’t use that term to think a relationship that starts as blissful will always produce the same feelings. Please don’t think that relationships won’t always take work or won’t have problems.