There Are No Soul Mates, and That’s a Beautiful Thing

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Editor’s note: L.A. Actually is a weekly column about dating in Los Angeles. Read the previous installments here – and for date inspiration, don’t miss the Caper of the Week.

I’ve met two women in my life that I would consider soul mates.

One was a classic manic pixie dream girl, and the other was a lovely and grounded Midwesterner. I met them both while enjoying the spoils of this great city of Los Angeles (though by “spoils” I don’t mean red carpet premieres or coke binges in a Malibu house with ocean views -– it was through volunteer work).

Of course, if these two women were truly my soul mates, then why aren’t I still with either one of them? Because “soul mates” don’t exist, at least not by the common definition of the one person on the planet you’re destined to be with forever.

I’ve never believed in soul mates mostly because if I did, then it would be an exercise in masochism. Knowing my luck, if there was one true love on earth placed here just for me, she’s most likely a Sherpa in the Himalayas or a shopkeeper in Kabul. The chances of her living in West Hollywood are slim to none.

The romantic Angelenos that believe in soul mates call my view cynical, but I consider it the exact opposite. I’d like nothing more than to have great love, and I don’t want to leave it to chance to find it.

We’re in love with the romanticism and finality of the idea – that the universe really did put someone on earth just for you.

Think about it – when you look at it rationally, the idea of “soul mates” doesn’t even make sense. Where did you first hear it? Most likely from pop culture – movies, books or TV, many of which also tell you that you’re too fat, too poor, and too dentally-imperfect (seriously, the immaculate teeth thing is getting ridiculous) to ever be worthy of love.

Where you didn’t hear about soul mates is from the wise old man sitting on the rocking chair discussing his 60-year marriage – more likely it was from Ryan Reynolds.

So why do we hold on to “soul mates” as anything other than fiction? Because we’re in love with the romanticism and finality of the idea – that the universe really did put someone on earth just for you, and all you have to do is locate him/her on the globe, then sit back and enjoy the lifelong happiness.

Unfortunately, if you’re single, believing in soul mates is toxic. It sets everyone you date up for failure – few people on earth can live up to a lofty “soul mate” ideal. By setting the bar to the unreachable, we eliminate anyone who doesn’t fit our preconceived notions.

Because I’ve never bought into this doctrine, it’s allowed me to be more open to meeting women. I’m not looking for anything “perfect” – which can be hard in L.A., where everything is about physical perfection. In reality, I know I may not meet my fantasy pixie dreamgirl with a master’s degree (and if I did, she may not want anything to do with me). But I know that there are plenty of “soul mates” walking around L.A. as we speak. If I just pay attention, I’ll meet at least one of them.

Caper of the week

Go: Montana Ave. in Santa Monica
Park: Free neighborhood parking one block away in the directions away from Montana Ave.
Eat: Mary’s Free Range Chicken at Blue Plate or the Chocolate Candied Orange Cake at Sweet Lady Jane
Drink: The Rocket Science Cabernet at R + D Kitchen or the rotating beer selection at the original Father’s Office
Do: Watch classic Hollywood films at the Aero Theater or grab a latte at Primo Passo Coffee Co. and walk down to the Pacific Ocean.

Chris Backley is a native Angeleno writer/photographer who blogs about dating and happiness (mutually exclusive). He’s also a former paramedic and an exquisite Oreo chef. @BackleyChris on Twitter.