Prompted by writing/revising Divorcing a Real Witch:
As I once said in high school, “Sure, I believe in God. For me the question is what I believe about God.”
The same applies to the microcosmic God-concept of the soulmate. Romantics define a soulmate as some version of “that one person that’s perfect for you, that you’re meant to be with, who makes you better/poops rainbows/will die on the spot from pure fulfillment.” I’ve noticed that people take the binary approach to this . ((I blame Kant for limiting cultural imagination so much.))
Just like the question of God for me is beyond a simple “yes” or “no,” the idea of soulmate goes beyond a simple “yes, it’s a beautiful thing,” or the equally popular “Go deal with reality, fluffhead!” response.
It’s not that I don’t believe in soulmates. I absolutely do. It’s what I believe about soulmates that sets me apart.
Let’s begin with premise one: that one person.
I believe that every person has/can have multiple soulmates. I also believe that “soulmate” applies to more than just romantic relationships. I’ve met around four people throughout my life I consider soulmates. Family members can be soulmates – people paired to your soul to be with you for the lessons you learn. Friends can be soulmates, people beside you through the really hard and really weird stuff no one can predict but everyone faces eventually, whether it’s the naked lady in a Las Vegas bus station or the day your friends’ dog breaks into your dorm room and eats your homework. It’s more than sharing experiences; it’s learning lessons together and teaching lessons to each other. The lessons are not always positive.
Premise two: that you’re meant to be with
Soulmates bank on at least an implied belief in reincarnation. This suggests that it is a person you are meant to meet, over and over again, until you figure out what you need to learn from each other. In the case of romantic soulmates the lesson may indeed be that you’re better off without each other. If you really are meeting over and over, it means you’re not learning, and the end goal is to not need to have that meeting over and over.
If anything, I would argue that the romantic soulmate is the one best avoided or downgraded to sibling-like friendship. Why? Because in your struggle to emulate romantic ideals laid down by our culture that offer no bearing on the reality of our situations most of the time, you miss the point by trying to be “that couple” instead of continuing to progress to whoever you need to be for the end of this lifetime and leading into the next.
Premise three: Fulfillment/Rainbow pooping
Even in the most intensely romantic relationships, people need to eat, poop, take out garbage and get the laundry done somehow. Romance does not make life perfect, and sometimes it doesn’t even make life better. Mostly it just makes life.
I enjoy more than one soulmate, and not one is a romantic partner. I consider myself blessed – I can call a few people who will get “it” immediately on an unspoken level, and since I don’t suffer from a romantic soulmate, I don’t need to spend this life banging my head into a relationship brick wall.