Once upon a time, I had a soulmate.
She was my best friend. We were so alike, so codependent, our personalities so intertwined with each other, that we ended up destroying our 10-year-long friendship.
It turned toxic.
Whether you believe in soulmates or not isn’t relevant — I believe she was one because we understood each other on an unexplainable level, because we always knew what the other one was thinking, because we could predict our actions perfectly.
Because I couldn’t imagine existing without her.
Skip forward to now — I haven’t spoken to her in a year and I’ve been painfully aware of the fact that my boyfriend (who’s been around for almost the same amount of time she has been gone) doesn’t understand me the same way she did.
I wouldn’t describe him as my soulmate. I would still choose him, though, while leaving my soulmateship in the past.
We’ve been sold a lie
“Your partner has to have it all,” they said. “You have to feel absolutely completed by them,” they said. “Nobody can fulfill you in all areas of life,” they forgot to add.
People come and people go. Each and every friend fulfills you in different ways and you’re usually absolutely okay with that — it’d be a little weird to ask a friend to be your everything.
So why do we do exactly that when it comes to intimate relationships? We want our partner to be everything we want, everything we need, everything we don’t even know we seek until we see it in them.
Esther Perel, the author of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, describes this striving for complete fulfillment thus:
“We want our chosen one to offer stability, safety, predictability, and dependability — all the anchoring experiences. And we want that very same person to supply awe, mystery, adventure, and risk. Give me comfort and give me edge. Give me familiarity and give me novelty. Give me continuity and give me surprise.”
We pile requirements upon requirements upon wishes and dreams upon hurt feelings from the past. We want our partner to be our therapist, our passionate lover, our best friend, our caretaker, the parent of our potential children, our travel companion, our perfect half.
And in the process of idealizing our partner, of chasing the unachievable dream of fulfillment, we forget that our partner is only one person.
One person can’t carry all you have to offer on their shoulders. Soulmate or not, there will always be things they lack — things you need to seek elsewhere.
Perel further explains:
“Not only do we have endless demands, but on top of it all, we want to be happy. That was once reserved for the afterlife. We’ve brought heaven down to earth, within reach of all, and now happiness is no longer just a pursuit, but a mandate. We expect one person to give us what once an entire village used to provide, and we live twice as long. It’s a tall order for a party of two.”
Even a soulmate can’t encompass the social function of a dozen people.
Soulmates can burn a little too brightly
If you do believe in soulmates in one way or another, the chances are you describe a soulmate differently than I do. Each to their own.
Personally, a soulmate is someone who understands you deep down. Someone who is so alike you that you can’t even comprehend how you’ve become two people — aren’t you just two sides of the very same coin?
A soulmate is someone you can talk to for hours without realizing so much time has passed by, someone who completes you on a conversational, intellectual and emotional level, someone who comes into your life and you feel like you’ve known them forever.
Some people never find this kind of soulmate. I did — and I lost her.
I lost my soulmate because no matter how much you understand someone, no matter how much you have in common, there will always be ways in which you don’t see eye to eye. Even a soulmate can’t be perfect.
And sometimes, when you have a fiery friendship or romantic relationship, the fire burns way too brightly. The flames wash over you. The bond consumes you. You get burned.
And you realize that as much as you love your soulmate, there are more important qualities you should seek in people — healthy boundaries, mutual respect, calm stability, conversations that don’t get heated each time you disagree.
It’s not just understanding and alikeness that make someone a good person to stick to. It’s the relationship you build together as you move through time, a relationship that’s healthy and without pressure, a relationship that inspires you to be the best possible version of yourself.
A relationship I have with my partner.
Instead of 5-hour-long heated discussions, I get calm conversations that make me see things in a brand new light. Instead of constant chatter, I get content silence. Instead of toxic jealousy, I get healthy support and love.
Our relationship is different in many ways — and in most of them, it’s probably a better one.
One person can’t be the answer to everything
My partner has a short attention span and is a very quiet person. Do I sometimes miss having passionate conversations for hours on end?
He’s also very different than me and often sees things from a completely opposite angle. Do I sometimes miss feeling understood without even saying a single word?
He’s kind, caring, healthy, confident, and he respects me and makes me be the best version of myself. Does he need to fulfill me on all levels imaginable on top of that?
After going through a toxic friendship with a soulmate, I automatically looked for what my best friend had offered me elsewhere — and instead of broadening my social circle to find new friends, I lay all my burdens on my partner’s shoulders.
Until I finally realized the truth: I don’t need a perfect boyfriend who can guess what my next word is going to be. I need a kind partner who gives me everything he can — and what he cannot give, I need to seek in new friends.
No matter how amazing your partner is, you will always need to have friends. You’ll always need to have your own hobbies, your own personality, your own independence.
I’ve been told a lie. My partner can’t ever fulfill me perfectly, just like my soulmate didn’t.
The answer is to find fulfillment within yourself and within multiple people who each cater to your specific social needs. Nobody can give you 100 %. If someone fulfills you up to 80 %, just like my boyfriend does me, and if that relationship is healthy and secure, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find your 20 % elsewhere.
My boyfriend doesn’t feel like my soulmate right now, but he sure as hell is the most wonderful partner I could wish for. And that’s enough for me.
Soulmates are overrated anyway.