A journaller, Gus, is going through a horrible and very public break-up with his girlfriend. Most of us are not quite sure why they're still together. Jenni of Jennicam has apparently stolen her best friend's boyfriend and had his name tattooed on her finger after knowing him for about 20 days. This has provoked a discussion of soulmates in various journals and journal forums. See Xeney's for links to various of the above. And basically, I think the whole soulmates concept is complete rot -- or at least the way a lot of people seem to play it.
I recently saw a friend who was having trouble in her marriage decide that this other guy was her soulmate. She'd had a brief fling with him years before, but they'd been separated before anything had a chance to develop. She had just spent all of fifteen minutes with him, after not seeing him for about five years. But she was absolutely sure. She was sure enough that she claimed that she no longer felt any stress over her marriage breaking up -- that she was just so happy having found her soulmate that nothing else mattered.
This I don't get. I just don't understand it at all. I don't believe that there's one and only one person for you. If you're using soulmate in that sense, that I have to say that I think you're deluded, and that the universe you live in must be a very cruel one. What if that person got hit by a train before they ever met you? What if they spent years looking for you, not having things work out with other people, and then decided that they must be looking in the wrong direction, and changed their sexual orientation? What if your family pushed you into an arranged marriage when you were sixteen with someone completely different? Gods -- the odds are so very against your ever finding that one single person that you think you are fated to be with...I don't even know how to talk to you.
Maybe you don't use it in that sense. Maybe you use it in the sense of someone who you feel an instant connection with, who you feel immediately close to and comfortable with. Okay, I can grant that one. I pretty much felt that with Kevin -- I wouldn't call it love at first sight, but I do think I started falling in love with him within about six hours of meeting him. I'd even say there was a connection there, of some kind. An affinity. But soulmates? It's a long way from there to soulmates! Sheesh -- it took four months of dating before I was even sure that I loved him. That it wasn't just infatuation. That it might have a chance of standing up to the bumpy days and the rough spots.
(I'm leaving aside all the poly stuff for the moment, 'cause I know that there isn't even a place for it in most of the soulmates discussion. Sorry, Jed. :-) I'll gush about you in some other entry...)
Look -- I guess I just think that fitting two people together is hard. 'Cause unless you're identical twins raised in the same place, you're going to be very different. You're going to have different assumptions about the world. You're going to have different attitudes about some things -- politics or art or raising children or doing dishes. (I spent an hour on the phone with Kevin last night trying to figure out how he could possibly not care about visual art. It astonishes me.) Those differences are going to cause bumpy spots in your relationship. They just will.
And there are a couple of ways to get past those differences. You can have a whole weight of culture telling you that you have to, that you have no choice. Remember -- my parents had an arranged marriage. They met less than a month before the wedding. They were essentially two strangers who were going to live together, raise children, etc. for the rest of their lives. In a culture and a religion (they're Catholic) that didn't allow for divorce. They're very very different people. And you know -- they made it work. They clearly love each other. They used to fight a ton when I was growing up -- now when my mom gets tetchy my dad just sighs and kisses the top of her head. They've figured out how to smooth enough of those rough edges that it's actually a pleasure being in each others' company. They will undoubtedly be a comfort to each other until the day one of them dies. They have a very good marriage, as far as I can tell. They added their will and determination to what their society told them, and really opened themselves up to the possibility of learning to love one another. That approach can certainly work.
If you don't have that kind of cultural weight, maybe you have what I have, and I think what Xeney has. I found in Kevin someone with whom I had an affinity. Over time I learned that he was in fact a good person, someone worth being involved with. I learned how much there was to love about him. I made the commitment to trying to make it work long-term. I hit problems -- lots of problems. We are very different, and in some rather serious ways. Some of those problems were solved easily, some not. Some we solved through talking through, some through compromise, some through generosity (which is a concept I like better than sacrifice), some through just enduring until it got better. Wearing away the rough edges. And whether we can make our long-term goals/desires mesh or not, we've had eight years, in which we've grown so close that it's hard *not* to understand each other now.
And if neither of those approaches are what you're looking for, well, you still have to find some way to get past the rough edges that I believe are inevitably going to be there, no matter how well-suited you are to each other, how much of an affinity you have. And maybe the belief that you are soulmates, that you are destined to be together, will carry you through the difficult times. I don't know. To me, it seems like willful blindness. A comforting illusion. And a dangerous one, because it could blind you to some very real problems, or help you to avoid dealing with them. If you used it that way, at any rate.
To me, it seems like a way of prolonging the infatuation stage of a relationship -- and I don't know why you'd want to do that. Giddiness is fun, but nauseating too, don't you think? Once in a while, I like to ride rollercoasters -- but most of the time, I'd rather be walking on the ground.
And I just missing something major? Do you believe in soulmates? Feel free to tell me.