Stop searching for a soulmate

Imagine. One day you need a perfect backpack for mountain trekking. It needs to be strong enough to carry 20kg of trekking equipment, but just light to avoid adding more weight. It needs to have a compartment at the bottom, just big to keep your camera. It needs to have a pouch on the right side to slot in your palm-sized water bottle. It needs to have a tiny compartment at the top to store your phone, keys, and essential documents. It needs to be breathable to keep you cool. It needs to be waterproofed, and have an attached cover in case you need to travel through streams. It needs to have numerous small compartments at the front to keep other tiny necessities: medicines, sweets, pocket knives, and other junks that mountain trekkers claim they need.

That backpack is of course available. But finding it may take you months. One day, you finally find it. You're so happy that you go to bed with it. And take it on your next few trips to the mountains. You're satisfied with your life around it.

But then... you want to buy a new lens for your camera because now you want to take more macro-pictures along the way. Your phone crashed, you bought a new phone, and it no longer fits the pouch at the top. You need new garments now that you're trekking higher mountains. Your water bottle broke when you fell that time during trekking, and you bought a bigger one so that you wouldn't have to refill so frequently.

Your old backpack once perfect is now useless.

If you're looking for a soulmate, you're committing a serious crime of treating your relationship just like that very backpack.

By definition, a soulmate is someone having exceptionally strong affinity with us. In sociological term, affinity is the commonalities between people or groups in terms of interests, ideas, ideals, or causes. As such, two soulmates think in the same way, because of the same reasons, act in the same manner, to serve the same causes. They can communicate without speaking, because one will understand the other with just a touch, complete the other's sentences with just a look. They can satisfy each others' needs, because in truth they have the same needs. There is a galactic bond which is unarguably created by some divine power of serendipity. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have someone like that on our side for the rest of your life?

Not so much!

1. Believing in soulmates is self-sabotaging

People who believe in soulmates think there exists a perfect match for everyone. As such, once they face an adversity early on, they will likely call that a sign that the other person is not their soulmate, and give up trying altogether to move on to other better ones. We are not meant to be, they say.

Even during healthy and long-term relationships, they can feel unhappy if signs of incompatibility start to show. Looking for perfection, just a small disagreement may escalate to the dissatisfaction that their partner is not who he/she used to be. Again, they may give up the healthy relationships without trying to get through small fights.

2. Finding a soulmate is self-stopping

Finding a soulmate sticks to the idea that someone will perfectly match our needs, thoughts, interests, habits, behaviors, and so on. That also assumes our conception of a perfect soulmate according to our standards remains constant over time. Because no one can find and chase after a constantly moving target. What happens to someone whose standards and behaviors stay the same over time? A non-growing person.

Many psychologists have concluded that human beings thrive because we have the tendency to value self-growth. We do what we do to make our lives better. Finding a soulmate goes against the natural instinct. It prevents growth.

3. Staying with a soulmate is self-retrogressing

Not just preventing growth, staying with a soulmate can even reverse any growth that may happen. Just assuming that we have found a soulmate. But according to the social learning theory, under the influence of the environment, people change for a better fit with society. What if that change creates incompatibility in the relationships. Those strongly believing in soulmates will try to avoid changing, as such separating themselves from the surrounding world to mitigate any danger of changing. Just you and me, we live happily ever after. We don't need anything else. They say.

Certain movies and romantic literature have influenced our mindsets for worse by portraying relationships as butterfly-filled stories that end in perfectly compatible and born-for-each-other couple walking toward the sunset. What they don't tell in those stories is the struggle after those exquisite marriages.

Coming back to the backpack metaphor. If there are new requirements to climb higher mountains, those with a soulmate mindset will either throw away the old backpack and start a new (and hard) effort to find a new match, or avoid climbing higher mountains all together so that they can continue keeping the old one.

Those with a development mindset towards relationships will think of ways to enhance the old backpack, new ways to use it to suit new needs, or even bring along new bags to serve specific purposes. As such, once there are new emotional needs in a relationship, we should think of ways to enhance ourselves and our partner, to renew the relationship, or when worst comes to worst, we can't fulfill the needs within the relationship, let's both be mindful that we both have our separate worlds. Friends in our separate circles are perfectly fine to help us meet such needs.

I am a trainer of human potential, an inventor of ideas, a Toastmaster of inspirational expressions, and a believer of everyone achieving their dreams. My past adventures include authoring and co-authoring 10 patents in the field of audio and ultrasonic technologies, performing in rock bands, organizing a cross-country business case competition and also winning one, and public speaking. My life purpose brings me to people development. I am now a writer, facilitator and coach of Connection Coach, a new venture to help others realize their full potential and make a positive impact in the society through leadership, growth, and connection.

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