I recently read an article that talked about comedian, Aziz Ansari, and his thoughts on finding a soul mate. The article seemed to express some tentativeness with the subject. It starts out with Ansari stating that it is nearly impossible to find a soul mate. But, later in the article he says there are behaviors that you can practice to up your chances of finding that elusive soul connection.
According to the author of the article, “modern romantics want a soul mate, … that special person who completes us emotionally, intellectually, and sexually. A soul mate is the “perfect person” who one can “truly, deeply love.” Soul mates have an instant, deep connection: “passionate, or boiling from the get-go.” If things are not passionate from the beginning, “commitment seems premature.”’
Talk about a tall order! I actually expect that believing another person will “complete me” (thanks, Jerry Maguire) has the potential to lead to higher and higher divorce rates. “Surely, if the person I’m with fails me, then I must have ended up with the wrong person. If I just end this now, I still have time to find my soul mate.”
There are at least a few big problems with the soul mate theory that I’m going to present here.
#1: The statistical impossibility of finding your soul mate.
In What if: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions, Randall Munroe writes an answer to the question of a soul mate. Do they exist, and if so, how likely am I to find mine? Now admittedly, the book is a tongue-in-cheek response to a number of “absurd” questions. Even so, it offers sound advice when considering the question. Munroe is a mathematician so he does some fancy numbers work looking at the chances of meeting your soul mate. He considers the population of the world, the available people (around the same age as the seeker, still single), and a made up system of connecting with one another. He says that basically if you used his make-believe system for 8 hours a day, seven days a week, and if within a few seconds of seeing someone you’d know if he or she was your soul mate, then it would take approximately two decades (after you began your search) to find that person.
I know, I know. That’s a silly explanation of the possibility of finding your soul mate. Truthfully though, as a culture we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that marriage should be easy and if its not, then you must be with the wrong person. Here’s some advice though. In general, if we put our energies into being the right person, instead of wondering if we’ve married the right person, we’re sure to live in more harmony.
#2: The soul mate standard is a hard one for your spouse to live up to.
Remember the description from above? A soul mate is “that special person who completes us emotionally, intellectually, and sexually.” That is asking A LOT of a person you marry. One person isn’t supposed to do all that for you. Emotional and intellectual needs will sometimes need to be met in other places. I don’t mean an emotional affair. Its completely normal, however, for guys to have their guy friends and ladies to have their girlfriends. It’s healthy even. While you can’t go around getting sexual needs met from someone else, you certainly can’t expect your spouse to always be able to fulfill them 100% of the time. Sometimes, some of your needs (intellectual, emotional, or sexual) just will not be met. (As an aside, if all of your needs were met there’d be no reason for God in your life. That’s a topic for another blog though.)
#3: The soul mate standard is too hard for you to live up to.
Sometimes when people talk about soul mates they forget that putting standards on someone else means they need to put those same standards on themselves. You can’t expect someone to complete you unless you’re willing to complete them as well. This means you, in all of your shortcomings and flaws, would need to be someone’s perfect match. You must be able to be that person’s everything. You’d be the driving force of his or her life. You’re the one that poets, composers, and film-makers have in mind. You basically have to be every Nicholas Spark’s character that has ever been dreamed up. Of course, you’d also have to be pretty narcissistic to believe this is possible.
I’m kidding of course, but the truth is that many couples struggle when they expect things of one another that cannot possibly be provided. Sometimes the expectations are small (fold the towels the way I do, doggone it!), while other times the expectations are quite a bit higher (if you loved me, you’d know what I need right now without me having to tell you).
There is a much better aim than marrying your soul mate. Be faithful, kind, and loving to the one you choose to marry. When the tough times come (seriously, the towels don’t fit in the closet like this), remember that you are in the steady process of becoming one. And that, friend, is a far more fulfilling relationship than the fantasy of the soul mate.
Praying God’s greatest blessing on your marriage!
By the way, if you’d like some tips on feeling a little more like soul mates, check out my free guide, Becoming One. In it you’ll find several tips for increasing the intimacy in your marriage.