As a hopeless romantic, I grew up believing in soul mates: that one person who is your perfect match, your other half. This idea meant that any time I began dating someone, I analyzed every single detail of them and compared it to myself. Did they like the same things I did? Do they think in the same way I do? Did they have the same goals as me? Now, I’m not saying those questions are important to consider, especially the goals one however, it limited the opportunity I had to explore life with these people because I usually backed out of the relationship or courtship quickly. I believed that when I found the right person, we would just work instantly, that we would love one another from the moment our eyes met.
However, after personal experience in the world of dating, I realised that perhaps we do not have one single person we are born to spend forever with. Maybe we have a variety of people, scattered across the globe, waiting for us to find them. However, as the hopeless romantic that I am, I had to do some research.
Knee (1998) looked into the impact of a belief in romantic destiny (soul mates) on the actual quality of the relationships. He compared those who believed in soul mates to those who believed in relationship growth. He discovered that those who believed in romantic destiny looked for positive emotional reactions when searching for a partner. They believed they would just ‘click’ with someone or wouldn’t. Therefore, they tend to be passionate and satisfied with their romantic partners at first but when problems arise, they usually exit the relationship quickly. Fearing that problems mean they are not meant to be together. They usually move on quickly, racking up a number of short term romances and one-night stands. Something of an ironic turn of events, that the belief in soul mates may prevent those individuals from finding their partner!
For those who believed in romantic growth (working towards love) they resolved conflicts as soon as they arose and evolved the relationship through hard work and compromise. They usually are less passionate individuals and are less euphoric about love than the previous group. These relationships tend to be longer and more satisfying over time, working together to make the relationship work.
From the research, soul mate driven lovers may have unhappier love lives compared to those who wish to grow with someone. This is where I believe I lie. I believe that no relationship is perfect, there will always be fights and arguments but that does not mean the relationship is falling apart. There must be a clear divide between petty issues and real reasons to walk away from the relationship. To understand that small arguments are normal and does not mean you are settling for less or that your partner is not your soul mate, it means you are mature enough to compromise and discuss your issues in an open and safe environment.
This is not to say that you hopeless romantics need to throw about your belief in soul mates! However, it is best to keep an open mind, to not throw away relationships because of small issues. Instead, why not say ‘if we are working through our issues as mature adults then we must have a future together’. It is also vital to say that you should not force yourself to stay in a relationship with someone if you are truly unhappy. There is a difference between being unhappy because of a small, fixable issue or being unhappy because of something major. To have a truly healthy relationship you must be able to work through issues when they arise, those issues should not arise too often and you should still feel happy within the relationship as a whole.
Relationships are tough. Finding a partner is tough. However, you have the power to decide who you wish to have in your company and how you perceive love. Be safe.