What does it mean to have a “soulmate”? It is relatively straightforward to answer this question in the abstract. It gets far more difficult to be more tangible, because people approach marriage and experience relationships so differently. If it were not for the fact that is such an oft-asked question it would be tempting to avoid it. Cowardice not being a particularly admirable virtue, yours truly is going to have a go at it.
When people speak about finding their soulmate, they generally mean one of two things. For some people, it means looking for someone with whom they can have a deeper connection. This is absolutely fine. Others, though, are searching for someone who can be their “everything” – and that can become a problem. We shall unpack this a little more.
What does “soulmate” mean?
Most people are looking for a special resonance between themselves and the person they choose to marry. Beyond the checklist of features – personality, values, looks, etc. – they are wanting to have that intangible sense that they have found “their other half.” Being a bit cynical, what this really means is that the level of trust and intimacy is such that the person loses their inhibitions and allows themselves to become fully intertwined with another person. This an exhilarating and faintly intoxicating sensation. We can wrap this up in mystical terms like “soulmate,” but, in reality, it is about reaching a level of mutual acceptance and appreciation that is both thrilling and liberating.
Most people will have this experience. But, not all. As explained in various articles on this site, many people have particular complexities that prevent them – or certainly, make it a great deal harder – to fall headlong into loving bliss. They find they have to force themselves to get past the finishing line. They, too, typically wish for this “soulmate” experience, but it may not happen that way for them – or only partially. It is important for you to be aware that not having the soulmate sensation may not suggest anything negative about the suitability of the match. It could be down to the unique makeup of your character.
If everything aligns on paper, be careful before you walk away. Often people abandon a date with truly great potential because they do not feel he or she is their soulmate. They do not understand that this is a direct result of their own psychological makeup. In short, aspiring to find a soulmate in this sense of genuine closeness is fine, and indeed most people will succeed at doing so. But, be aware some people are not built that way.
Searching for “My Everything”.
There is another way people think of a “soulmate,” which is more about their own insecurities, rather than the desire for the joys of true intimacy. Some people believe that they can find the one person who will fulfill all of their needs – a one-stop shop. He or she will be their lover, their best friend, their intellectual journeyman, their helpmate, and so on. In their perception, the person they marry has to be able to satisfy every yearning they have. If there is a part of their soul that remains unsatiated, they will take this as evidence that this is not their “soulmate.”
Needless to say, this notion of soulmate is unspoken and unacknowledged. It is taken as given, and never questioned. Unfortunately, it is also largely wrong. The havoc it causes, however, is considerable. Very few people will succeed in marrying someone who can be their “everything.” Human needs are so diverse that it is not normally realistic to expect every need or desire to be met by a single individual – no matter how amazing and wonderful. It is not that any single one of the needs in question cannot be met by a spouse; it is the expectation that they all can be met by one person that is implausible.
So many of us are thrown off by this. Consider Chana, a bright and able young woman, who has high ideals about marriage. She has been dating for some weeks, but cannot get past the fact that she and her potential husband are not on the same intellectual wavelength. She is into more psychological and philosophical concepts, while he is an IT specialist and has more technical interests.
Chana is laboring under the assumption that a married pair have to be able to share their intellectual passions in order for them to be a true couple. She unquestionably adopts the idea that the divergence in their intellectual interest means there would be a significant bifurcation in their union. The absence of convergence in one area is not proof that the guy is not Chana’s soulmate. It is not necessary for a couple to match up on every front. In fact, it is nearly impossible.
Where is this drive coming from?
The reason some people adopt this extreme interpretation of “soulmate” is often the product of insecurity. There are people who become very controlling in relationships, hurting themselves and the person they profess to love. Why? They are insecure and live with the subconscious terror of abandonment. The fact that is unintentional and they are most probably unaware of this does not change anything. Their counterproductive reaction to this fear is to cling to the person with such intensity that they suffocate them emotionally.
Similarly, some people seem to feel that if their life partner has different interests to them that this creates a division between them, and this will somehow diminish the unique bond they aspire to have. Emotionally, it may feel that way to them, but this is coming from an unhealthy place. A mature relationship accepts that husband and wife retain their individuality. They are able to have their own interests and life, without this undermining the wholeness of the union.
The person you marry is not your soulmate because you took possession of their soul! They are your soulmate because by being close with this person your soul finds peace and happiness. That person is not your soulmate because you are identical in every way, but because when together both of your souls thrive and flourish.