we think about soulmates completely wrong
people talk about soulmates like they're bound to them; it's as if they can't escape this person they're "fated" to be with. we are viewing soulmates, and love, wrong & it's hurting our relationships
note: for the sake of this post, unless stated otherwise, i am referring to “soulmates” and “love” in a purely romantic way. i acknowledge that people also view soulmates & love in other ways, i.e. platonically or familially.
it is no secret that plenty of people believe in soulmates; now, why they believe in them greatly differs from person to person, but the fact is that plenty of people do believe.
that’s not shocking, either. plenty of us grew up watching rom-coms, disney movies, and consuming the trope of the classic romantic fairytale that exists in music, film, art, poetry, novels, and more. we were socialized to enjoy a happy and secure ending; an ending that shows two people who, out of all the other people in the world, were seemingly destined to find, love, and be with each other forever.
before i fully address the soulmate part, i have to address the concept of love to begin with. you’ll see why, if you already don’t.
there are a few unhealthy behaviors that we lose sight of when we focus on the romantic element of the classic storyline. more specifically, we ignore the part where one of them (often the woman) would lose their entire career, friend groups, family members, dream lives, identity, sense of stability, and so much more, in pursuit of this “soulmate” type of love. i’m not saying it was always only one person making these sacrifices or always the woman, but more often than not, it was, and it is (from my experience). and that’s the storyline we’ve been fed and continue to feed.
how many christmas movies have you seen where a woman from a big city with her dream job and dream life visits her small hometown for the holidays then uproots her entire life & everything she’s ever worked for so she can be with a man she’s only known for two weeks (or less)? how many people do you know who have repeated a similar narrative in their own life? how many people do you know who have dropped everything in their lives to make some ultimate sacrifice or gesture for somebody to prove that they love them? how many people view love in this way?
that is where the problem begins. if we associate soulmates with love, and we associate love with unreciprocated selfless sacrifices, then by association, we associate with soulmates with unreciprocated selfless sacrifices. this is where i believe we have been viewing soulmates & love completely wrong.
am i saying that love should never consist of selfless or sacrificial actions? absolutely not, in fact, i think it is beautiful when there is a safe space for reciprocal love to exist between two people, as long as no abuse or manipulation is involved. in that case, selfless and sacrificial actions might come naturally and easily for two people and that’s adorable.
but i think that is the exception, not the rule. the keywords here are reciprocal and unreciprocated. the biggest issue lies in whether or not both people are returning the same kindness to each other, or are at least willing to. i’m willing to argue that many people who saw those repeated narratives of “fairytale love” between two “soulmates” completely misunderstood the message underlying some of them. they saw one person give up what they’ve worked for their entire lives in order to obtain the love of somebody who wouldn’t do the same and wouldn’t even consider it.
that is not love, not to me anyways, and certainly not a healthy love.
while love can have moments of being difficult, chaotic, disappointing, and at the end, heartbreaking, it is not a one-way street. the better words to use for one-way (unreciprocated) feelings might be lust, obsession, or desperation.
the ideal love that we probably all want, or have wanted, somewhere within us, is a secure bond between two individuals who actively and consistently choose each other. soulmates, then, are two individuals who actively and consistently choose to share their soul with each other. nothing more, nothing less. that’s the beauty of it. we don’t have to feel confined to one person forever; we can choose who we share our soul with. after all, there are eight billion people in this world.
while this isn’t how a lot of people view love and soulmates, i do believe it is the most sensible, rational, and liberating way to view both of those ideas. by viewing them in this light, we can easily understand what love and soulmates are not, too. for example, if we view love and soulmates as this reciprocal concept where two people regularly choose each other, then we can understand why it is not healthy to romanticize toxic, back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse, up-and-down, high highs and low lows, “never the right time,” avoidant and anxious kinds of dynamics. i often hear these people invent wild terminology to justify these unhealthy dynamics; they call them “twin flames,” “karmic relationships,” and “ones who got away.” they didn’t get away; you didn’t choose them when they wanted to choose you, or vice versa, and that is all the proof you need to know that you guys were not “the one” for each other.
so go out there, and don’t just “find” your soulmate; choose your soulmate, and you’ll know it’s a soulmate when they are choosing you too. and remember, it doesn’t have to work forever for it to be a soulmate; that is the beauty of it all, nothing lasts forever, but we can learn from everything along the way. it is okay to be with soulmates with somebody for a period in our lives and not our entire lives; it is kind of beautiful to remember that we are all the product of everybody we have ever loved, too. using that logic, you never fully lose the soulmates you’ve had, because they have all left their mark on you, and you on them.
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