Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Soul Mates

I have to question why it is such a widely held belief that we all have a soul mate, or one specific person who we are destined to be with or, as some believe, made for. Even some of my other non-religious friends think soul mates exist. Why is this not seen as a happily ever after fairytale when so many marriages end in divorce? What if your spouse dies, are you allowed to marry again, or does that violate the single soul mate theory? I have known good faithful people who have gone through divorces and end up assuming their ex just wasn't the one for them, yet instead of realizing that the whole idea of exclusive true love is crap, they insist on trying again. Why get to know anyone else at all if you're holding out for that one special person?

No one is perfect. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out, and yet I've known women and men (though I can hardly consider them to be more than girls and boys) who seem to think their ideal mate is waiting out there, flawless, and eager to pamper and please them at their every whim. Soul mate probably means something different to different people, but the main idea is that somewhere out there is a person right for you... and only one person. You don't hear many people talk about their second or third soul mate. That kind of defeats the concept of a soul mate. I agree that there is a person out there who is right for you, but why just one who you are destined to be tied to for eternity and live happily ever after with? Wouldn't it be more exciting to think that there is more than just one individual who may be right for you - that you have a deeper connection with humanity than someone who can only find one person that's right for them, out of countless billions?

Without getting on my soapbox about religion and spirituality, I will note that the first problem created by the idea of soul mates is in the first word of it. Define the soul and prove it exists before trying to claim one other soul is the only soul for you. What if the soul is not such a metaphysical entity; what if it's more like our entire personality produced by our brains and hearts working together? It may make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think you have someone special set aside for you who will complete you and never leave you... but get over yourself. Shit happens. Expect it to. Nelson Mandela said, "the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall". Life goes on. The joy of it is getting to know and love so many diverse personalities.

Before you start to think I'm making a case for whorishness (isn't that a fun word), let me say this: what is wrong with loving many other people? We have this idea of monogamy pounded into our heads, and is it really a good or superior societal standard than polygamy... but that's for another blog. I'm not advocating free sex like during the Sixties, I'm simply arguing against the notion that we are all bound to one single person for our entire life. Some people use the word "soul mate" just as a fun, affectionate term without serious connotations, which I feel is not the best word, but that use really strips it of it's meaning anyway.

So what is love worth without soul mates? A lot, if not even more. I'm not going to give the cold-hearted lecture about how we are all just like apes trying to spread our genes, driven by natural selection. Life and love are more than that, but we are the ones who make it more. The ability to learn to love different types of people in different ways, to find comfort in intimacy, to relieve whatever hurt may be in our lives... why is it bad to tend to such things outside wedlock or with more than one partner? Religion can't explain why it's bad, they can just tell you God says it's bad. I also know it's not sexy to tell someone, "if I wouldn't have met you, I would've just found someone else", but maybe it doesn't need to be said. We all know it's true, whether we admit it or not.

Love is not some profound spiritual wonder, but it's not so great when dissected by science and rigid logic either. It's as natural as breathing, and if you suppress it too much or breathe too hard and too fast (yes, I'm clever, aren't I), you'll tire yourself pretty quickly. The soul mates idea is unrealistic and not as good as it sounds. It was probably conceived by people who were desperate, like us, to feel some kind of eternal and unconditional love, and while it would be nice, we are better off without it sometimes, so that we are motivated to give the love we desire to feel in return. All I'm saying now, and all I've ever really been saying, is enjoy your life while you can. Don't live for today or for tomorrow, just live period. Real love won't mind sharing, I think, and it will recognize the vanity of putting artificial restraints on who we allow ourselves, or each other, to get close to.


  1. I agree, looking at it from a neurological standpoint, it is completely farcical and quite simply naive to believe that you have a soul mate. As you said, considering that the soul doesn't exist, it would be pretty difficult to have your soul linked to another person (through the ether perhaps? lol).

  2. I just thought the idea of a soul mate was just a childish notion that teenagers and adults seem to have, which keeps them from fully growing up. After reading your argument, you have a much more logical and reasonable standpoint for not believing in soul mates. I, also, notice that many people, especially religious folks, tend to fail to define what a soul is.

  3. @ThatAtheistChick,

    Even aside from the idea of a soul, many people seem to think there's some mystical force that has united them with their significant other. Of course, the ones who turn out to be jerks are never counted as part of that cosmic plan. I think things are so much simpler and even more meaningful when we reject dogmas like "soul mates". Recognizing that you found this person you love, that you helped make the relationship happen, and no outside influence had destined it for you - I think that will put things in better perspective for individuals and couples, and they will be more likely to fight for a healthy relationship.