The idea of finfing your one soul mate can feel downright impossible, yet we are often led to believe that most people have found one, or that we should be seeking one, too. It’s to the point that if you haven’t “found one” (whatever that means), you start wondering if there is something wrong with you.
A National Marriage Project researched at Rutgers University analyzed 1,003 people ages 20 to 29, and their attitudes toward finding a soul mate. Almost all of the never-married singles said the same thing — that finding a soul mate was the number one thing they looked for while they were dating. They agreed a soul mate is someone who “completes you, unconditionally accepts you, loves you more than anyone else, requires no major compromises, is your best friend, shares one mind and one heart with you and is someone who you quickly know is the one.
On the other hand, when Neil Chethik interviewed 60 American husbands who have been married for 50 years or longer, they collectively said that “you don’t find a soul mate. You create one.”
“Soul mate status comes not just from sharing euphoric moments, but from enduring tragedy and disillusionment as well. Together, soul mates suffer money problems, and illnesses, and seasons without sex. Sometimes they even fall out of love for a while,” Chethik said.
David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project, who was also part of Chethik’s project, “VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Wives, Their Marriages, Sex, Housework and Commitment” advises people to “spend less time trying to find the right mate and more time trying to be the right mate.”
So it seems that single, young people looking for love have very different ideas of what a soul mate is than do people who have been married for most of their lives. But I like the seasoned experts’ version, more. It puts the idea of “soul mate” into our control — it’s something we can all certainly find, but once we do find it, that’s where the work begins. And it’s a lot of work. And we have to work on ourselves. The soul mate is not a magic pill that you take that makes your life and love complete, instantly. It’s the potential to make the life and love that we’ve dreamed of a reality.
But I think that everyone would agree with one thing: finding that person, and doing the work, is totally worth it.