So following are some of…

So following are some of the comments I've gotten on the soulmates thing -- I really appreciate the responses. I think they've helped clarify where I stand on it all. I really think there are three main possibilities here, for what people mean when they talk about soulmates, and I'll tell you what I think of each one:

a) soulmate: someone they've just met, whom they are willing to abandon everything else in their life for, because they're absolutely sure this is the one, the true, the only person for them, and not incidentally, true love is more important to them than anything else, including family, friends, honor and duty.

This I don't get, and I don't want to get. I frankly think they're deluded, and that they want to delude themselves, probably because it lets them do nasty unethical things (like cheating on their spouse and/or abandoning their kids) that they can't justify any other way. Yuck.

b) soulmate: someone you feel an instant connection with, an affinity to; someone who evokes such close and immediate feelings that it's hard to explain without thinking maybe you knew each other in another life, another dimension, or similar circumstances.

This one I'm okay with -- only I'd call it a kindred spirit (see: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery for elaboration). This definition also often does not require exclusivity, which makes me happy -- you could theoretically meet a hundred kindred spirits (or more), and you would simply be fabulously lucky. I've got a few, and I treasure each one.

c) soulmate: someone who feels like a part of your self (usually half, but possibly could be applied to a third as well), whom you feel deep love for which just gets better and better with time and really endures; someone who makes you happier than anyone else you've dated, and does it easily.

That last word, 'easily', seems critical to this definition, 'cause otherwise it would be pretty close to what I was talking about earlier with me and Kev -- that a soulmate is someone who you can be really close to and not have to do all the sometimes difficult getting yourselves to mesh, smoothing away rough edges work. And honestly, I have trouble believing that such a thing exists -- but it's hard to say. I've never felt this. That's really all I can say. And so I think I'll have to respond to this the way I do to my serious religious friends who have faith -- "I'm afraid I can't make the leap of faith; I haven't experienced this for myself. I believe you that you have experienced something, and I take your experience seriously. I'm just going to have to remain an agnostic for a while." As opposed to the people in group 'a' above, who I think are equivalent to crackpot cultists, basically.

So that's my opinion for the moment -- here are a few others (reprinted with permission):


I do believe in soulmates. I believe that there is not just one soulmate for us, but many. And your soulmate doesn't have to be your lover or anything. I've had two people in my life that our beings seem to coincide, we clicked and knew each other almost instantly. Now, one of these is a man, and I'm not even remotely inclined to homosexuality, but Spencer and I, we just have that soul-like connection. My other best friend Shannon and I have also had that connection from the begining. However, despite how attracted I am to her, I also realize that because we are so connected, I probably will never be with her in more than the great connection we already have.

Can soulmates break up a marriage between non-soulmates? Absolutelly. But a non-soulmate can break a union between soulmates as well. Some people are incapable for having a relationship that strongly with anyone other than their soul match. I am one of those people. That's how I know :)

Jeremy


Mary Anne,

In my mind, the concept of soulmates goes something like this... when you love someone it's like giving them a piece of your soul, when they love you back they follow suit and with a piece of each other's soul neither is ever completely alone, or feels totally unloved... not to say there are no hard times, lots of them of course, but there is something real underneath holding you together.

Jim


Hi, I've been reading your sites sporadically for awhile and just thought I'd chime in on the soulmates thing. I'm a believer in soulmates, but only because I found mine. I proposed to my wife exactly two weeks after our first date, but we had known each other over ten years as friends. Let me back up. I'm a skeptic, but I always hoped that such a thing existed. I don't think that there's only one person in the world with whom you can be hopelessly, ecstatically happy with. However, I do believe there are very few. In fact the fact that I met (one of) mine caused me to want to find religion or something. I have since come to my senses and gone back to being the deal-with-eternity-later agnostic that I've always been.

I think that the sad thing is that people try to manufacture the soulmate thing. They see the few people who have found 'it' and try to make it happen for themselves. Or convince themselves that what they have is that. The real thing is actually a defineable state of how you feel. I've been in several fairly intense relationships, and considered marriage in the past, but something always nagged at the back of my mind that I wasn't quite sure about the person in question. So over the years I built up a list of standards of what it would take for me to want to marry a woman.

Anything else should just be considered a fling, even if I fell in love. Well, when I met Lizzie, (actually met is a misnomer, we met in high school) she surpassed my very strict standards by a order of magnitude. She truly blew my expectations right out of the water. I might have been fairly sure I wanted to marry her even before we had sex. It was just icing on the cake that she was the best I've ever encountered. Really the depth of the connection is such that major, potentially catastrophic things like attitudes on raising children, politics, and anything else is really easy to overcome, as it becomes easy to bend or flow around each other's wishes. That part's hard to explain, and may not even be accurate for other couples (or triples, whathaveyou), the general thing is that there is so much 'right' between you that anything that's not is emminently overcomeable (dunno if that's a word).

We started dating 10/98, got maried 7/99 and had our first child a few months ago. We disagree on politics, the consumption of flesh, gun laws, and minor points of child rearing, but we _talk_. We compromise. That's another thing. With a soulmate compromises don't hurt. You don't fight for consensus, as you already start with so much in common, it's usuall not much of a reach, but in every case, whatever it is is overshadowed by your love for each other.

And yes, everybody thinks you've lost your mind at first, but people who truly love you will come around in the end.

- Billy


I don't think you missed anything important, but I do think that you should have included, as you put it, "all the poly stuff". Polyamory is a key element to understanding the fairy tale of soulmates. If you believe in polyamory, you usually can't be taken in by the myth.

Like most of the American romantic fallacy, the soulmate concept is based on a few key premises, all of which are (IMHO) false:

  • People are property.
  • Lovers should be able to fulfill all of each other’s emotional and intellectual needs.
  • Monogamy and monoandry are the natural states for human beings.
  • Romantic love is superior to sexual love.
My life partner and I have been together since high school, but we are (thankfully) not soulmates. I guess we are true children of the 60's. We started with an intellectual friendship followed by a very hot love affair. We continued with the premise that we did not belong to each other, and that either of us was free to move on at any time. If it weren't for the mores of the time, we probably would not have married. Each of us has the right to have both friendships and other sexual relationships. We have both personal and mutual friends, and we have both had other lovers on occasion. In one case, we shared a wonderful affair with a woman. We have come close to breaking up several times, but we are "still together after all these years."

Xeney says "You can't have an intelligent discussion with a woman who believes she has found her soulmate. " It is even harder to have an intelligent conversation of any sort with a woman (or man) who thinks that you are their soulmate. All you can do is go along for the ride, enjoy the sex (which is usually great), and wait for them to come to their senses. When they do, it is sometimes possible to remain lovers or even friends. Other times, they decide that you betrayed them by not being as committed as they are. There is one woman who not only believed that we were soulmates, but that we had been soulmates in many previous lives. When she realized that we weren't really soulmates, and that I didn't really believe in reincarnation, she also decided that our entire relationship was sinful (we were and are married to other people.) There were extenuating circumstances; she experienced a great personal tragedy at about the same time and coped with it by getting religion. My love for her remains intact, but we have not spoken for years.

The same is true about men although they don't generally admit that they think of a partner as their "soulmate." This is because they think that men are supposed to be cynical about sexual relationships. The rest of us (men) encourage this view by speaking of them in derisive terms, as in "He's letting his little head lead his big head around." Mostly, they either sit around and drool or isolate themselves with their partner until the feeling goes away. When it does, many of them come apart for a while.

- C. J. Czelling

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