A Common Romantic Belief That Totally Works Against Us
Do you have romantic ideas about love and partnership, ideas that tug at your heart strings?
Most of us do.
Many romantic ideas are fun and lovely and light-hearted and, in my book, ideas that make life more delightful are probably pretty good ones to keep.
Ideas like… what makes a good Sunday morning together, for instance? Who brings who the morning beverage of choice? Do you go out? Stay home? Is it together time? Or is it separate, do-what-you-want-time?
What makes a good hug or kiss? What qualifies as foreplay, how and when do you give attention to each other? Even the contents of a proper apology, how and when you say I’m sorry, can be part of our romantic ideals about love and partnership.
But there is one common romantic idea that I’d like to challenge because it works against us.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN “THE ONE” — HAVING A SOULMATE?
Soulmates — first, may I say, what a nice idea. Truly lovely. Most certainly romantic. Deliciously dreamy-eyed, too.
What a tribute to the person you find, how lavish to call him or her “the one” in all the Universe — the one person who matches you, the one person who will make you happy, the one person who is yours, and yours only. It’s tremendously generous of you, really.
Here’s the thing, though.
If you believe in soulmates, and you find yours, but s/he leaves — then what? Does that mean the person wasn’t your soulmate in the first place? You made an oopsey? You thought he was IT, but really he was almost?
If, heaven forbid, you search high and low and can’t find “the one,” are you failing? Are you not a good searcher? What’s wrong with you that the world is (obviously) full of soulmates who’ve found each other and you can’t find yours?
But wait. There’s more.
What if you blow the chance you’re given? Or do you get more than one chance? What if the fateful day comes. The gods orchestrate your soulmate rendezvous, finally, after years — and one of you goes right and the other goes left? You never meet.
One big chance, one soulmate, one big mistake — by you. Oh, no!
What if your perfect partner lives in Tanzania and you never go there? What if your ideal mate is killed in an accident or dies from a rare disease before you even meet them? What if he or she lives down the street and still, you never cross paths.
Where does that leave you on the grand soulmate scale? When is a good time to throw in the towel, to settle and pretend everything’s peachy?
NICE IDEA, BUT…
The idea of soulmates contains some pretty heavy-handed concepts (destiny, fate, meant-to-be) and congers up drama (cue music and lights as you meet, or as you tell the unbelievably fantastic story of how you met, or the moment you knew s/he was the one).
To top it off, ideas about soulmates are loaded with assumptions — how you’ll know it in your heart when you meet this “right” person, that being in love will feel a certain way, that you’ll feel more love and better love than ever before and, of course, the kicker — you’ll live happily ever after.
There’s a lot hanging on the idea of soulmates. It’s an idea with very long arms.
Let’s back up a bit. Where does this idea of “the one” come from — what is it based on?
One of the long armed ideas, one of the troubles with believing in having a soulmate is that deep down, it’s based on the principle of scarcity. Scarcity refers to the state of being in short supply.
Having a soulmate has deep roots in the idea that love is scarce, singular, rare. I don’t know any idea rooted in scarcity that turns out well. Do you?
Having a soulmate implies there’s a perfect partner for you and in order to be truly happy right down to your toes, you must find that person. Marry that person. Love and be happy with that person. Promise to stay with that person through thick and thin, until death do you part.
GOODNESS. HOW STRESSFUL.
May I suggest all of this is quite a tall order? Belief in soulmates could explain, though, why so many folks are sideways about matters of love.
What if you are married to your soulmate and you can’t figure things out? You get a divorce. Does it mean life is over for you?
Do you say oops and live on, unhappily? Quietly unfulfilled? Does it mean your life from now on is a waste? You missed the boat?
Honest to goodness, I’ve never heard a sillier idea than the one about soulmates.
Below are more reasons why. And you’re welcome, by the way. Things always go better with relief.
BELIEFS ABOUT SOULMATES AND WHY YOU SHOULD DUMP THEM (THE BELIEFS)
Belief #1: My soulmate is out there somewhere and I must take special action to find them. I must do something special to bring him/her my way. I need to be in the right place at the right time. I must call my soulmate to me.
But wait… I don’t see them yet. Shouldn’t s/he be here by now? Don’t soulmates show up early so you can enjoy a long life together?
Is s/he’s dodging me? I need to prevent that. I’ll strategize my way into his or her heart. If they don’t realize they are my soulmate, I’ll need to convince them. I’ll start a campaign. I’ll learn what to say or not say.
I’ll make it happen.
(Plenty of blogs, online classes and books play into that idea of how to catch and keep your one true love.)
Truth #1: Oh gosh no, sweetheart. You move naturally about the world. You are guided, loved, and looked after every moment of the night and day. You’re naturally in the right place at the right time all day, every day. You don’t have to try. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to work at it.
This morning, fall out of bed (as usual), go to your local coffee shop (as usual), and lo-and-behold (as usual) at the next table or waiting in line with you is a person able to light your fire, open your heart and be a person you cherish and love.
Will you meet them? Who knows. Maybe you’ll have reason to speak to each other. Maybe not. No problem.
There are plenty more possibilities sprinkled throughout your day, year, life. On the way to work, at the after-work meeting, at the evening talk you attend tonight, at the gallery opening this weekend, on the hike you’ll take next Friday, at your friend’s wedding next summer, at the pool on your vacation in three weeks.
One of my girlfriends met the best partner she’s ever known when he came to tile her bathroom. He never managed to finish her tiling job because the two of them talked so much while he was supposed to be gluing little squares on her wall that someone else from the company had to come over to complete her bathroom!
Turns out he’s a musician, too, and adorable, funny, understands her, adores her. The two of them get along without trying very hard. In two years, their relationship is better than when they first met. It has grown and deepened.
You just never know how your favorite people will show up in your life.
Back to the person in the coffee shop for a moment. Let’s say you meet this person in line or at the next table, and you go out with them, have fun with them. Will you marry them? Who knows.
But can you love them? Absolutely! So practice loving that person. Have fun with that person. See where things go.
Notice if the mental conversation, “Is s/he the one? I think s/he could be the one…” — comes up. If it does, notice the pressure that comes with that idea and set it aside. Pressure is not going to help you be natural, be present, be real.
Instead, what do you enjoy about knowing this person? What’s natural and fun about you around them? Go from there.
Here’s what I’m saying.
Not only do you not have to work hard, or take special action, but there are so many life mate matches for you. Some are around the corner, others down the street, some across the globe. There are plenty of matches for you, enough to make it easy to run into a possible candidate practically anywhere, anytime. Have fun discovering them.
Belief# 2: My soulmate will love and adore me and I’ll live happily ever after.
Truth #2: A life mate will be as likely to challenge you as to adore you. That’s as straight and simple as I can say it.
Belief #3: By finding my soulmate, life will be a sundae with a cherry on top. I’ll have no problems or at least fewer problems. Things will be easier.
Truth #3: Oh, honey. All relationships have issues and irritations and crashes. That’s how we learn things we could not learn solo.
Friction between you and your life mate doesn’t mean something is wrong, it means you “here you go, here’s something that will help you if you hang in there and learn a thing or two you didn’t know.”
Trouble messes up a fairy tale. But it doesn’t mess up real life.
Trouble doesn’t mean you should necessarily dump a relationship. It simply means now would be a good time to observe and reflect. Breathe and listen. Pause and consider. Live and learn. Relax about something you never realized you could relax about.
Belief#4: This is my soulmate, so I must hang in there no matter what. I have no choice but to make this work. This is my chance for true and lasting happiness, so I’d better not screw it up.
Truth#4: Belief in THE ONE is a (big) reason we hang onto a relationship far past the expiration date. Belief in THE ONE is belief in scarcity, that you must keep this relationship, because good relationships are hard to find. It’s a made-up lie. Anytime we’re desperate to keep a person around, it’s because we believe replacements are in short supply.
Belief #5: This is my soulmate, and no one else can have this person but me.
Truth #5: Belief in THE ONE causes competition and jealousy (jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else). If I believe a person is my soulmate, and someone else intervenes, them’s fightin’ words and off come the gloves.
Competition in love, in an intimate relationship (as opposed to a basketball or baseball game) brings out the worst in us. We resort to base, instinctual, survival methods to win the fight and it won’t be pretty.
Oh, I have gotten myself into a very big subject here, and I’ve only just begun. I’m sure you’ve finished your coffee break and time’s up.
So let me end with this: Having a soulmate is a Silly Willy idea. Don’t fall for it. It’s not true. On any level. From any perspective. I’ve spoken personally to hundreds of people about their relationships, and taking this idea out of the equation helps everyone, every single time.
Rest easy, and I hope you sleep extra-well tonight, knowing that love is everywhere around you. There is plenty, plenty, plenty for everyone.
Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry: 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.
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