I’ll start by saying that I wrote this and then almost scrapped the entire thing in favor of a post about something far less personal. But I reminded myself that I started doing this because I wanted to create a space that goes beyond the perfect picture we paint through social media and gets real, and I promise to stick to that.
Today I want to talk about soulmates, and in the process share with you the story of my own relationship. Based on my brief internet research, there are a few different definitions of what a soulmate is, so to be clear, I think of soulmates as that idea there that there is one person for everyone…and I find that ridiculous. I firmly do not subscribe to this concept of soulmates. To me, this indicates that we are passive participants in our own love lives, and it creates an unrealistic picture of how a love story should unfold.
I believe that you are compatible with a limited number of people based on your personalities, common interests, and physical attraction, and that when those things line up, you form a bond, and then a relationship which may or may not work out. If it does, you experience life together and you support each other and at some point, be it after a long or a short time, you can’t picture your life without that person. BAM, a “soulmate” is born. But it wasn’t because this was the only person made for you; it was because you chose to make them such an integral part of your life that the concept of being without them seems unfathomable.
Of course, like many others, this opinion is based largely on my own experience. I am happily engaged to someone that I love very much. He is an incredible human being and we are great together, but I don’t believe that we are soulmates.
short still pretty long, Colin is my brother’s best friend. He and I first met when we were teenagers, although I couldn’t tell you the exact time or moment. He is a couple of years younger that I am, and we had no interest in each other at that point. When he graduated from high school, he joined the military, and we lost touch for a little while. When we reconnected, the spark was there. He asked me to be his date for an event he was going to (as friends,) and I’d like to say the rest is history, but it’s not. He was stationed six hours away from where I lived at that time, and his entire life revolved around his job. He was understandably resistant to the idea of being in a relationship, but we decided to give it a shot. We had only been dating a few months when I moved to go to law school, which drove us both geographically and mentally further apart. That period of our relationship was incredibly difficult; we were both engrossed in our separate worlds, and there was no foreseeable point at which our paths would permanently cross. He got deployed, and I experienced the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced. It felt like the universe was literally and figuratively pulling us away from each other, and we did not handle the separation with grace. When he got back, we both agreed that it made sense for us to go our separate ways, but it was difficult to let go. At one point, we finally pulled the trigger and officially broke up. During that time, my uncle was suffering from terminal cancer, and two days after Colin and I called it quits, I went back home to say my goodbyes to him. Colin went too to support my family, and he was a rock. He pitched in in ways that I would never expect a non-family member to do, and I thought “that’s what I want in a partner.” After that, we made a decision right then that it didn’t matter if our relationship made no sense, we were going to make it work. So we did. Eventually, he got out of the military (which he hadn’t planned on), and I moved back to Virginia (which I hadn’t planned on), and we built a life together. And now, five+ years after our first date, I don’t know what I would do without him.
But I don’t believe that we ended up together because we are soulmates. I believe that we were compatible, that we made a choice, put in the work, and stuck with each other through a lot of ups and downs, and because of that now we can’t picture it any other way.
I want to be clear that I don’t think this means that you can make a relationship work just because someone is a good person. It has to be right, and sometimes it’s just not. But I do think that we should stop looking for some magic instant connection, and start putting emphasis on finding the qualities that make someone worth a lifetime. Love comes in different shapes and sizes, and people’s stories will not always be that perfect “we met and instantly knew we were meant to be together” narrative (although some will, and that’s great too.) So if you are still looking for your person, or if even if you’ve already found them and things get tough, keep your heart open, and remember that who you spend your life with is your choice.