Soulmates: is real love a real thing?
"Soulmates'', thought of as a match to perfection, is a fairytale idea, an idealistic and utopian concept that has been in our minds subconsciously since childhood.
Movies, books, spoken legends have created this stereotype of the perfect couple with common interests, similar beliefs, and a constant state of being on cloud nine.
Having a “soul mate” could have been a way for people to make themselves believe that they were not just solitary, isolated individuals. But, how true is this from the point of view of psychotherapy?
Soulmates and false expectations
Psychology is the science behind how the mind works and how humans behave as a result of that. It involves awareness, thoughts, emotions, and related behavior.
This fairytale concept of continuous bliss and nothing else, I think we can all agree is far from reality. As humans, we feel emotions like fear, sadness, anger, disappointment, etc., all the time and this is part of the beauty of life.
Therefore, some of these utopian concepts may lead to feelings of inferiority (I´m not good enough), victimization (why me?), desperation (I'll never find someone), among others. This is because these concepts clash with what is actually real. We have expectations created in fairytales but are living in real life where that cannot be applied, hence, false expectations.
Expectations often translate to problems in relationships and life in general. So expecting someone to become our prince charming or captive princess means a lot of requirements to fulfill. We have to accept that as humans we are all far from perfection and that it does not exist.
That is one of the reasons why I always remind my clients how much better it is to not idealize a partner or a potential future partner. Admiring them is different and can be a beautiful thing. Idealizing them, however, implies something out of the ordinary realistic life and above us and everyone else.
From my point of view, embracing the proposition that rather than being at the mercy of the whims of a perfect romantic love, individuals have to address feelings, among other things, as part of a constant work in progress that requires a dedicated effort for it to succeed. An effort you enjoy putting into a common goal or future project.
The idea of one person out there who is destined to be your other half implies the idea that we are incomplete, that we cannot develop enough if we don't find our perfect match. That is false. We are complete and whole as we are. A partner is an addition to our wholeness, not part of its structure.
The honeymoon period can feel euphoric and you may feel like you can't even imagine loving anyone else other than the new idealistic relationship you have going on in that moment, but conflict, mistakes, and disagreements are part of any relationship and we have to keep that in mind.
We could argue, and I personally believe, there can be people out there (putting the focus on the concept of people and not just one person) that can be a better match for us.
Yes. I think there are several people in the whole world, with whom we could build a relationship that would be based on a stronger connection and synchronicity compared to a lot of other people. Some would call them 'soulmates'. This is very different, however, to the 'old-fashioned' concept of 'soulmates', which implies not having to make any effort and everything being magical and beautiful all the time.
Reasons for changing the old-fashioned 'soulmates' frame of mind:
- High expectations, more often than not, end up making us feel unsatisfied with whatever outcome isn't the one we expected and therefore feel disappointed constantly
- Not everyone who comes into our lives may be looking for love. We have to assume that some people will come and go
- It puts too much pressure on any relationship and in the end love is something beautiful to be enjoyed and constructed together
- Self-love comes first and it is very important. Waiting for a partner to make us happy means giving the responsibility of our well-being to someone else. Expecting one person to fulfill all of our emotional, physical, and social needs is impossible and frankly, unfair
- It can block you from allowing a relationship that doesn't start off in an ideal way to potentially grow and become something beautiful in the process, possibly ending up in what you were looking for in the first place
- You might have more than one ´real´ love and it´s OK. Do not limit yourself, your possibilities, or your feelings. As I said, you can have several ¨soulmates¨ realistically
We don't have to give up the idea of having a nice and healthy romantic relationship, keeping ourselves away from what seems like the dangerous realm of having impossible standards that we can hardly even fulfill ourselves.