Plato tells a story of a jealous Zeus, afraid the humans were too powerful, so he split the humans in two. As a result, humans walk the earth feeling like a part of them is missing, searching for their other half or their “soul mate”. When they find this person, their souls recognize each other, understanding that they belong together in order to be whole again.
Any hopeless romantic fantasizes about the day they meet this one true love. But how realistic is this fairy tale? Is there really ONE person that completes each of us, with the desire to search, find and love us each lifetime?
There are 7 billion people on Earth. With social media, dating profiles, video calling and several modes of transportation, we are more connected than ever. We’re no longer limited to the social connections of school, work, church and our immediate neighborhood, town or friends group. People meet from across the world, fall in love and marry while others reconnect with High School crushes, finally achieving the connection they only dreamt of. Are some of us just looking in the wrong part of Earth for our other half?
We’ve all seen those people who have been able to find their “soul mate” and have what we would view as an ideal relationship. Then one partner dies while the other has more life to live. The surviving mate eventually finds another person they feel strongly about creates a life with their new partner that is just as good if not better than the first. Does that mean ONE person was not their TRUE soul mate? Or would that mean some of us humans are lucky enough to have multiple soul mates, while others are only limited to one? Who decides what a soul mate is and how many a person is allotted in a lifetime?
How many of us have felt strongly connected to a person unwilling to give us what we need, what we deserve, but continued fighting to keep the relationship together on the basis that they were our “soul mate”? I felt so deeply for my first love at the age of 20 that the thought of finding that type of connection with anyone else seemed impossible. I had convinced myself that he was THE ONE and that no one else could complete me the way he did. I stayed in a toxic and abusive relationship for years, gave him my best, loved him with all of me only to have him leave me for another woman. For years I found it impossible to feel so strongly for any other man. I questioned whether or not I got cheated, that my soul mate didn’t get the memo and I was destined to walk the Earth as only one half a soul.
Eventually I found that spiritual like connection again, and not just once. Each different in their own way, but a deep connection nonetheless. Each relationship I experienced, whether a strong soul mate like experience or not, taught me more about myself, about life, and what I want my future to look like (or not look like) with a partner. And if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I’d change my journey if I could.
I had the chance to reconnect with my first love almost a decade after we split only to find out I had no feelings for him other than a deep appreciation for the lessons I learned. I’ve also had a high school crush confess their feelings for me years later only to realize there wasn’t a romantic spark after all. What I thought I wanted at 20 is not necessarily what I need at 25, 30 or 38.
I believe that it is unhealthy to idealize the myth of a soul mate. It’s time we normalize the fact that relationships end. 50% of marriages end in divorce, so how many love affairs do you think end as well? Instead of entering an agreement with someone thinking we are the best thing they’ll ever have and vice versa, know that you have to both work on a relationship to make it long term. There needs to be clear communication and expectations. More than likely, there will be hurt, even if the partnership lasts until death. More than likely both people will grow and change. Or even worse, one person will grow and one will not… It does’t mean we can’t enjoy the company of a person we’re attracted to. It doesn’t mean this person won’t serve a purpose in your life story. Be honest with yourself, be honest with them on what you want/need in love, set clear boundaries, AND ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS!!!
We only live once. How sad would our stories be if we were only able to LOVE once? I, for one, hope to love as many times as I have the opportunity to. I prefer the notion that I am ALREADY whole, that finding someone I feel deeply for doesn’t make me any more of a person, and not having that connection doesn’t make me any less. When I’m on my death bed I’ll know that I gave my all to those I cared about, I loved with my whole being, created beautiful memories (and humans) with others, and have no regrets. That is more important to me than believing in the fictional fairy tale of “soul mates.”