It's easy to get swept up in the idea that there's one ideal person for you — someone who will understand you entirely and complete you in every way. And while that's understandable, there are actually quite a few
negative side effects of believing in soulmates that are important to keep in mind.
First, it's helpful to remember that there may not actually be one person for everyone. It's possible to create healthy, happy relationships with all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. But the idea of "soulmates" can be also be detrimental in other ways.
"Those who believe in
destiny are worse off than those who believe in growth," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Bustle. "That is, if you believe that a relationship takes work, you’re more likely to have a satisfying relationship — and you’re better able to face challenges when they arise. If you believe fate determines the outcome of a relationship ... then you’re less likely to be satisfied."
By letting yourself off the hook when it comes to
finding a soulmate — and remembering that all partnerships take work — you can actually increase your chances of having a healthy relationship. Here, a few negative side effects of believing in soulmates. If you're holding onto these ideas, experts say it may be healthier to let them go, and open yourself up to a new way of thinking.
Expecting Problems To Work Themselves Out
Some people believe that finding a soulmate means they'll never have any relationship issues. But that's simply not true. All couples deal have to work through ups and downs, issues, and disagreements. And that's not only OK, but also a
sign of a healthy relationship.
"If you expect your partner to 'just get you,' you may find that you run into unresolved conflicts and resentment," Dr. O'Reilly says. "You can’t read one another’s minds and if you have this expectation, you may be less likely to talk about your needs, boundaries, and feelings."
In order to create a healthy long-term relationship, you'll need to talk, communicate, and sometimes even
argue with your partner in order to make things work. Having to do these things doesn't mean you're with the wrong person.
Ending A Really Great Relationship
"If you are in a healthy relationship with someone you love ... the last thing you want to do is buy into the concept that there is someone else out there who is the one and only soulmate — and that you should try to find them,"
psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle.
The belief that there may be an even better "soulmate" out in the world creates this sense that you shouldn't settle — even though your current partner is great.
Of course, it's up to you to decide what to do in your unique situation. But
appreciating your partner for who they are — and remembering that there is no one person who will tick all the boxes and delight you in every way — can actually come as a huge relief.
Being ghosted sucks, no matter what someone's reason is for totally
disappearing after a few dates. But did you know that those who believe in soulmates may be more likely to do it?
study out of Dartmouth revealed that those who believe in soulmates were more likely to ghost. The study's lead researcher, Gili Freedman, conducted a survey of over 500 men and women and found that those who were strong believers in destiny — or soulmates — were more likely to be OK with ghosting, compared to folks who weren't as invested in the idea.
But this belief can obviously make dating difficult. Of course, it's OK to stop dating someone if you don't like them. "If you realize you don’t want to be with them for reasons other than 'they are not my soulmate,' have a conversation with them," Rappaport says. Maybe things will work out, and maybe they won't. And that's OK.
Pushing Your Friends & Family Away
For many people, the idea that someone is a "soulmate" can lead to them pushing others away, in favor of spending every moment with their partner. But this is
super unhealthy. "Social networks and supports are essential to life fulfillment and health regardless of whether or not you’re single or partnered," Dr. O'Reilly says.
So remember to
keep up with your friends and family — even when you're head-over-heels in love. The last thing you want to do is lean on your partner for everything, or isolate yourself from others. Being well-rounded means maintaining your relationship, and all the other areas of your life.
Missing Out On Great Opportunities
Along with the idea of a soulmate comes this idealized image of what the person might be like. Maybe they have certain hobbies, a specific job, the same interests as you, and so on. But it's important to be
open to all types of people and situations — even if they don't fit the "soulmate" image in your head.
"People who believe in finding a soulmate may miss a lot of good opportunities waiting for theirs to come around," relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the
Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. By dropping the belief that soulmates exist, you'll be opening yourself up to so many more opportunities.
After all, "good relationships are generally not a result of finding the right person but of working together with someone who is willing to put effort into it," Bilek says. "Most people could successfully build a relationship with a range of potential partners — but the key is that is has to be built, and building takes work. If you're hoping to find the shortcut by meeting 'The One', you may miss Many Others as they pass you by."
Falling Into Toxic Situations
The whole notion of soulmates can be used to
lure people into unhealthy situations. Someone can easily say they're your soulmate and "play with your emotions so you will overlook their bad habits and lack of good character," Rappaport says. "This is a recipe for emotional pain and trust issues. No one should ever try to convince you that they are your soulmate."
Putting Your Life On Hold
Being on the lookout for a soulmate has caused so many people to sit around waiting for the right person to fall into their lap. But that's not how relationships work. And, it's a huge waste of time.
finding a relationship is important to you, don't get caught up in the idea that your partner will magically appear in your life. "Putting your life on hold while waiting for your soulmate is a waste of time and energy," Rappaport says. "You will not instantly know if someone is 'the one' or a 'soulmate.' You must meet people and date in order to find out if they are compatible."
Again, it's important to keep in mind that even if someone doesn't seem like your "type," it's still possible to have a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship with them. So keep an open mind.
Assuming Chemistry Is Everything
Remember, healthy relationships need to be built on more than initial sparks. So don't try not to get stuck in dead-end relationships, just because the chemistry is great.
"If you have an amazing connection to someone and chemistry is over the top, this does not mean they are your soulmate," Rappaport says. "Date them and find out if you want to be with them."
Can you imagine building a life with this person? Do you have similar beliefs and goals? If not, it doesn't matter how attracted you are to each other —
chemistry alone isn't likely to be enough for things to last long-term.
Forgetting To Establish Boundaries
Part of being in a relationship is weathering life's ups and downs together, and supporting each other. But it's important not to stay in unhealthy situations, just because you like the idea of unconditional love.
"Every person has a breaking point and a set of non-negotiable expectations and boundaries," Dr. O'Reilly says. "Acknowledging these from the onset of a relationship establishes a stronger foundation than any promise of unconditionality ever could. You may feel loving feelings unconditionally (as parents often do for children), but it’s unlikely that you’ll stay in a relationship without some conditions."
boundaries is healthy. Figuring out as a couple what's OK and what isn't OK is necessary. If your partner stretches those boundaries or crosses them, it doesn't matter how great they are — they may not be the one for you.
Along those same lines, it can be easy to dismiss red flags — especially if you've already deemed the relationship a soulmate connection.
"When you have the mindset that someone is your soulmate, and that they are the only one out there for you, it’s easy to overlook red flags or misdeeds, and you may find yourself allowing behaviors that you wouldn’t otherwise allow if you considered that there may be better partners out there," Vikki Ziegler, a renowned relationship expert, divorce attorney, and author of
tells Bustle. "When you see the world through rose-colored glasses, you risk missing important clues about how your relationship may pan out, that may potentially impact having a healthy and happy relationship with one person versus another." The Pre-Marital Planner,
Be aware of red flags or
signs a relationship is toxic. If it's unhealthy, keep in mind there are literally millions of other people out there, so you don't have to remain stuck.
Getting Hung Up On One Person (Who Might Not Even Be Available)
Have you ever gotten hung up on one person, believing that they are
perfect for you in every way? This is something we've all done, but it can be a pretty upsetting way to think.
"If you believe that there is only one person for you, how would you feel if that person doesn’t want to be with you? This person you want may be in relationship with someone else," Rappaport says. "Look for someone available and find out if you want to date them or get to know them better."
This also comes in handy if a relationship ends. While it'll obviously be painful — and it may take a long time to
recover after a break up — remember it's possible to build a similar connection with someone new.
Believing someone is your soulmate — and therefore perfect and free from fault — can be quite a letdown. In reality, "they’re human and ... imperfect," Dr. O'Reilly says. "The expectation of perfection puts undue pressure on them and may influence you to avoid having important conversations when your needs are not being met."
So whether you're in a relationship, or still looking for a great partner, it may be a good idea to let go of the idea that there's just one person out there for you. "People tend to get wrapped up in the word soulmate, when in reality there are many different types of people that may be right for somebody," Ziegler says. By staying open-minded, talking through problems, and remembering that
no one is perfect, you'll be more likely to have healthier relationships.