Why Not Believing in Soulmates Is Good for You

I think the whole term soul mates is super cute, like how a baby is cute when it's trying to climb the stairs — it's trying so hard, but is ultimately too immature and inefficient to get anything accomplished. It’s like saying “everything happens for a reason,” or “it was meant to be.” But, to be fair, who’s to say those things are wrong? Maybe everything in our lives is predetermined in some ancient, cosmic kind of way. Maybe, just maybe we really don’t have any control over the way things play out. I’m not discrediting any kind of philosophy because no one is in any real position to do that.

But do I believe in fate? Am I into the whole “soul mate” shtick? Not really. Rom-coms (*cough* Serendipity *cough*) feed us these romanticized ideas of how relationships are supposed to work, and they’re (for the most part) liars. I’m not saying you can’t just meet someone and feel like you’re supposed to be with them for the rest of you life, because I feel that now with my S.O. But I wouldn’t say it’s because cupid decided we were meant to be together long before we met. He is just a person who complements me in all the right ways. He’s not perfect; I mean, he thinks Alt-J is just “a few notches away from being electronica” and I think that’s a stupid opinion. He hates the way I always leave spoons on the counter after making coffee and stirring in sugar. But I know he’s always going to be there when I’m bawling about something that happened at work or with my family. I’m going to be the one who picks up his antibiotics when he’s sick. We’re there for each other and we “get” each other, but never have we assumed that fate would work things out for us. We know, without a doubt, that the work falls on us. And if you ask me, that gives us a hell of a better chance at having a solid, lasting relationship than a couple who doesn't take personal responsibility for their love.

Relationships aren’t perfect, and it’s kind of flawed to lean on the notion that things can’t go wrong because you two are “soul mates.” Because who even knows if that’s a real thing? Here’s how not giving in to that idea makes your relationship better and stronger:

1. When you have the same tastes in everything, you understand it’s because your personalities are just insanely compatible

First of all, you probably won’t have the same taste in EVERYTHING, because mathematically speaking, that’s essentially impossible. Plus, you’re allowed to like different things. I’ve been shamelessly listening to 1989 for the last two weeks straight and my S.O. has just given up on glaring at me and now hangs out in the other room while this happens. Hey, whatever, more room in bed for me. But we do have the same taste in things that really, really matter. Like our lifestyle, for one, and our spending habits; we agree on where we want to live and our life goals. But those aspects line up because we have personalities that are simpatico — probably one of the many reasons why we ended up together.

2. Knowing that things might not work will force you to work harder at your relationship

Having blind faith in something is always a little dangerous, and at the end of the day, that's what a belief in soul mates is: blind faith that you belong together in a way that is bigger than you, therefore your "togetherness" will be maintained by that Bigger Thing. When you don't believe in the Bigger Thing keeping you together, you make sure to keep yourselves together. Not that positive thinking isn’t a virtue in a relationship, but let’s also be real with ourselves: Just the ability to be with one person for the rest of your life is quite the feat, and a lot of humans are incapable of that, which is arguably very natural. My point is: You can’t take your great connection with your partner for granted. Don’t shrug it off and assume it will be effortlessly perfect, because it might not be someday.

3. You get that you’re with this person because they’re good for you, not because fate said so

Your relationship is supposed to be, above all, healthy. You should totally have requirements going into a long-term affair including honesty, loyalty, trust, and the ability to feel super comfortable almost all of the time. If these requirements are met, it’s because this person is awesome. And therefore you are awesome. You deserve all the good things.

4. You don’t need any of those cheesy “I LOVE MY SOUL MATE” cards

Because those are so cloying, am I right? Let’s switch things up, Hallmark! How about, “Happy Anniversary! I’m so happy we both have good tastes in significant others," eh? You’re welcome, Hallmark.

5. You understand that really good relationships take time, not serendipity

Sorry Romeo and Juliet, but you can’t fall in love in two days, unless your definition of “love” is a little more liberal than mine. It takes a while to really get to know a person, so don’t do anything drastic (get married, move in together) just because you’re convinced this person is your soul mate.

6. Not needing someone to “complete” you teaches you to not depend on anyone

Humans, we do not require other humans to make us feel more whole. I don’t care what pop songs say. They’re wrong. Sure, life can be easier when you’re involved with someone who gets you and who helps you be a better person — but it’s no prerequisite for an amazing life. You should definitely love yourself wholly before you let anyone else in on that job.

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