The idea that there is one person, one soulmate, out there for each of us is tantalizingly seductive. Suddenly, we are no longer alone in the world. There is hope that our faults and flaws and foibles are no longer fatal because our soulmate will love us as a package deal, whether in spite of them or including them hardly seems important at the moment. We just know this soulmate will love us perfectly, peacefully, patiently, unconditionally exactly as we are, and that life’s bumps will disappear, replaced by a smooth effortless flow.
Welcome to Stepford...
Our modern concept of soulmates is full of unrealistic expectations, thanks in large part to movies and love songs. In “Sleepless in Seattle,” Rosie O’Donnell’s character famously tells Meg Ryan’s character, “You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”
Many of us have bought into these myths and measure our own relationships by them. But do they serve us in any way?
In the case of soulmates, many of the most popular myths have been around so long we accept them as truth.
What is a myth?
MYTH – Misinformation You Thought was Helpful©
The key word is “misinformation.” Myths have their roots in truth, typically folk truth, but our modern myths have somehow lost their way. It’s our job to look beyond the myth and find the nugget of truth. Here are a few of the most common soulmate myths:
Soulmate Myth 1 – There is only one soulmate for each of us.
According to this myth, there is only one perfect person out there for each of us and if we screw up we’ll never meet him/her. Someone else will get them instead or both will end up alone because one didn’t get it right. That’s enough to make even smart men and women afraid to get out of bed in the morning.
While it may be true that we each have one Soul Twin or Twin Flame, we all have many potential soulmates. Life is big enough to welcome many loves and it is entirely possible to create warm loving relationships with a variety of people. Believing the myth of “only one” blinds us to those possibilities, causes our own isolation, and raises the expectations impossibly high for our potential Beloveds. Suddenly, the list of what our soulmate “should” be is long. Relationships built on expectations and “shoulds” are doomed from the start. No one can live up to that list.
Your very good life can include many soul relationships - lovers and also friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors. Those who are not romantic also enrich your life in the here and now. They teach you to navigate the messiness that comes with all human relationships. They help you get to know and appreciate yourself and those around you better. Appreciating the people already in your life shows you how to be with your Beloved when he/she appears and opens your eyes to the many possible loves already around you.
Soulmate Myth 2 - If I haven’t met my soulmate, something is wrong with me.
You are doing just fine. We all grow, evolve, awaken, and become receptive in our own time and in our own way. There is no right time or right way. Just as babies do not all learn to walk at exactly the same time, our emotional and spiritual development proceeds in perfect harmony for each of us individually. As kids, we expect to use training wheels first, then fall down and get up again as we learn to ride a bike. Expecting to experience a number of “training wheel” relationships as we awaken to our Beloved helps us enjoy each relationship as it comes along and stay focused on where we are going, not where we are failing. Rather than fretting that you are flawed in some way and somehow how getting it wrong, focus on what is good in your life right now. And be grateful for each and every person you meet.
Soulmate Myth 3 – Soulmate relationships should be effortless. How very boring, bland, and stagnant! Soulmates are souls in human form. They are souls having a human experience and your soulmate is figuring that out just as you are. Your issues won’t be magically resolved simply because you have an incredible connection.
What you do have is a super-connected partner who helps you, knowingly or unknowingly, to figure out how to resolve conflicts and differences in ways that benefit you both. There may still be fights – you’re human. There may still be areas where you will never agree – let it go. Better yet, use it a catalyst for new discoveries. You may be wrong and have to be the one to apologize – do it for your own good as well as the good of the relationship. Once you begin looking at relationships as a spiritual path, all things become opportunities for good.
Soulmate Myth 4 – Soulmates should be alike. Great relationships function like a Venn diagram. There are areas of commonality and areas of individuality. Celebrate them both. Appreciating the individuality of your personalities and thoughts is a much stronger bond than the requirement to be just alike. Being One means you complement each other, not that you are clones of each other. Your differences are a gift helping each of you explore new things, discover new interests, and consider new ideas. Embrace your differences as life-expanding.
Soulmate Myth 5 – Sex between soulmates is amazing. Here’s a news flash - Everyone else in the world is not having wild mind-bending daily sex. Sex is a spiritual urge, not just a physical one. The root of the desire for sex is the desire for ultimate connection and intimacy. Contrary to the message of movies, songs, and books, intercourse is just one form and intimacy of all kinds deepens the bonds between you even when intercourse is not involved for whatever reason. Many factors affect the quality and quantity of sex. Mood, age, physical condition, preferences, kids, work –this list could go on forever. Life isn’t a movie. Cultivate a rich variety of ways to experience emotional and physical intimacy and enjoy what feels good for the two of you.
Soulmate Myth 6 – My soulmate should already be perfect for me. There’s that “should” word again. Guess what? They are perfect for you right now in this moment. However, believing that’s the end of it leaves no room for either of you to continue discovering, growing, and evolving. That makes for a very confining relationship.
Have you ever entered the giddiness of a new relationship only to discover your mate is (gasp) human? Have you ever met someone special who wanted to continue growing or evolving and thought that must mean they aren’t your soulmate after all? Maybe you met someone interesting and thought “If he/she would only change ________, they could be my soulmate”? Or perhaps you thought you could change him/her over time, for their own good, of course. How disrespectful of their free will and individuality!
“I love you, you’re perfect, now change.” Even though I can no longer remember the plot of this play, the title has stuck with me. If you have entered into a relationship actively disliking qualities or characteristics or with the intention of changing the other person to suit you better, that’s your own neediness and fear of being alone. The problem is you, not them. If you catch yourself thinking your soulmate isn't perfect after all, consider this:
- Whatever is bothering you in your Beloved is reflecting something that is bothering you in yourself, maybe something you would prefer not to address. The other person may be just fine with this habit or characteristic, may even really like it in themselves. The problem isn’t what they are doing; the problem is the way you feel about it, the way you react or respond. This is an opportunity for growth for you. Instead of thinking, “Gee, I wish ________ could hear this, read this, experience this,” look inside, see what’s lurking in you, and deal with the proverbial log in your own eye before fretting about the matchstick in theirs.
- Instead of waiting for your soulmate to change so you can respond differently to him/her, be the change you want to see. That puts you in charge of you and your happiness, instead of being dependent on trying to make someone else change.
- Learn to speak your Beloved’s Love Language. In his book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman teaches us to understand what makes our Beloved feel loved and give that to them as an act of our own love towards them. As a result of feeling so loved and understood they act more lovingly and understanding towards us.
- The Giver becomes the Receiver. This is basic science and the most fundamental law of the universe. If you want a different response, give a different stimulus. You go first. You be the Giver.
- Asking (or demanding) your partner to change sends a clear signal that you do not like him/her the way they are. That’s sure to bring disaster in one form or another. Think about how you respond when someone demands that you change. Think about ways you could have been approached that would make you eager to give that new behavior. Treat your Beloved the way you would like to be treated yourself.
- Getting married (Or living together, being partners, or any other type of committed relationship) is not some kind of “cure.” You aren’t going to wake tomorrow with someone who is different from the person you committed to today.
- Fall in love with their flaws. It’s the Wabi Sabi way of love and what we all want for ourselves. Unconditional love is inclusive of your Beloved’s so-called flaws, not in spite of them. Just as you loved being loved exactly as you are, warts and all, so does your Beloved.
- Soulmate relationships are mutual. Commitment plus willingness to grow and evolve are essential to happiness, not deal breakers. Bend a little.
- A little Golden Rule goes a long way. ‘Nuff said.
Soulmate Myth 7 – Love conquers all. Soulmates love each other all the time no matter what? Well yes....and no. Yes, true love is big enough to love warts and all. Yes, unconditional love does not falter in the face of everyday hiccups. But never forget that we are human and there will be times when we love each other, but don’t like one aspect or another. And do not use “love conquers all” as an excuse for your own behavior.
Check what’s going in you first. Are you subconsciously testing him/her to see how nasty you can be to make them prove their love? Forcing them to “prove” their love will harm the genuine love they do feel. Deal with yourself and your own underlying insecurities.
There is also a huge red flag with this myth. “Love conquers all” is not an excuse to give or receive abuse or a reason to stay in an abusive relationship. Period.
Soulmate Myth 8 – Soulmates are 100% honest. My beloved grandmother was fond of saying, “You don’t have to tell everything you know.” She was suggesting kindness, not dishonesty. (She also had a mischievous sense of humor and I’m confident there was an element of not ratting out the perpetrator!) Her message - Some things are better left unsaid.
Apply the THINK Rule – Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspirational? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If the answer to any one of those is “No,” give serious thought to whether it needs to be said at all.
If anger is driving you to be brutally honest, remember there are plenty of positive ways to blow off steam. Finding yourself always angry with your Beloved may be saying more about you than about them. Get to the bottom of it in you rather than covering it up with anger towards your partner.
Soulmate Myth 9 – Soulmates last forever. Not necessarily. Soulmates of all kinds come and go in our lives to help with our awakening and eventual reunion with Source. They are purpose driven, guiding us towards reconnection with our Twin Soul, our literal other half who was with us in the dawn of time. When their purpose in our lives has been served, they move on for their good and ours. That may take a moment or a lifetime. There’s no set rule.
The Faerie Tale view of “happily ever after” sets us up for unrealistic expectations and failed relationships. True love is supportively fluid with both parties understanding that they are together by choice, not coercion or even contract.
When times get rocky, it’s tempting to think your real soulmate is still out there somewhere waiting for you. We have a misguided notion that being with someone else will fix whatever is bothering us or cure our boredom. We jump into the next relationship as if it’s a lifeline. If our partner didn’t live up to our idealized picture of what a soulmate should be, we feel justified in tossing aside decent relationships that have the potential to be ignited and better than ever.
Even loves that feel perfect and forever can fade as one partner or the other grows past the original attraction. Learning to lovingly allow them to move on sets us both free to speed towards our reunion with Source. In each case, becoming more mindful and self-aware of our own underlying thoughts and feelings is crucial.
Until that ultimate reunion with our Twin Soul occurs, many many soulmates will pass through and we can enjoy each and every one in its time and purpose. We will love them and they will love us.
Entering into relationships with a commitment to be together, to approach relationship as a spiritual path, may give you both the freedom to enjoy the ever-evolving nature of love.
Buying into soulmate myths can be dangerously isolating, setting up unnatural blocks to the love that is already all around you. It can damage your chances of a happy healthy relationship in the here and now. Even the best of relationships take time, care, and commitment, plus honest awareness of who you are and compassionate awareness of who your mate is. Do your part to actively consciously bring those sensibilities into your life together.
Maybe what we really need is a new way to look at love. Instead of falling in love with its connotations of something that happens to us as we stand by helplessly, we could begin to think of rising in love, allowing it to carry us to our own best self and nurturing the best self of our Beloved.
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.