Do You Believe in Soul Mates?

It's so foggy outside that I can barely see out my window. It's the kind of weather that has me wrapped in a blanket, sitting on my couch, channel surfing. I just caught the tail end of "The Bachelor" finale and a brief snippet of Tila Tequila on the Tyra Banks Show.

There's a whole lot of supposed searching for love happening on TV these days: Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, and of course, the aforementioned Bachelor.

The guy on "The Bachelor" didn't pick either woman. He decided he wasn't "in love". Both women cried and sobbed about how they didn't understand how he could be walking away from what they have.

Are they for real or just hoping they can get their own reality shows and extend their own fifteen minutes of fame? I just don't get what these women think they have. To me, you've got a guy who's been busy making out with a bunch of women. You've got a guy who's been laughing to himself over the cat fights the women have been having. You've got a guy who's asked a group of women to disrespect themselves, all for him. All for love.

So girls, thank God that he decided he didn't want you because not one of these "relationships" has turned out.

And why haven't they panned out? Well, if I was a guy, I'd have a hard time respecting any woman who let me roll like that. "Go ahead and kiss all on a bunch of other women but I'll be waiting right here for you honey!" Yeah, if I'm a guy, I'm programmed to believe that only hos are cool with stuff like that.

And as a woman, could I respect a guy who's also whoring himself out in pursuit of some sort of "true love"? Would I really believe this man was in love with me? Heck no!

I know, these shows are not about love, but are instead on some level about the search for fame. I get that. But they perpetuate some of the stuff we believe about love.

For example, do you believe that everyone has only one true love, one soul mate? Because these shows are all supposedly about helping someone find their soul mate.

The young lady who babysits for me asked me on Saturday night what I thought about this whole soul mate thing. It was 2 AM and I was driving her home. She's beautiful, single and highly frustrated with finding "true love" in Los Angeles. She didn't even have to go into details about the clowns she's meeting. I was able to list them out for her:

1)Men who are really only interested in sex but know women want love so they front like they want love too.
2) Men who want to act like they own you and you need their permission to breathe.
3) Men who act like they have to be super successful in their career before they can commit.
4) Men who think you're lucky they're even talking to you because they're such a good catch. And they let you know you're lucky.
5)Men who are so insecure that they can't stand it when you're more successful than they are.

I could tell I sort of disappointed her when I told her that I didn't know for sure about the whole soul mate thing. I told her how I think we've gone overboard in our culture with believing in the lightning strike, highly romantic ideal of true love, that I've tried to be much more practical and level headed about Love with a capital "L".

"Practical?" she asked. "As in you don't really love your husband, it's just a practical arrangement?"

Um, no. Not that. It's just that that "spark" thing isn't enough. That spark isn't going to keep anybody married. After all, I'm sure everyone Pam Anderson has married has really believed they had that special "thing" with her. And then, kaput. Divorce.

I told my babysitter how for me, I learned it was just too easy to get carried away by that instant spark of attraction. I'd then forget to ask the tough questions surrounding who that person really was, what they were really about, what did they really care about?

No, the lightning bolt sort of thing never turned out well for me. To tell you the truth, it made me feel mentally ill. Then I'd ignore all sorts of big red flags because of that magical lightning bolt... and then I'd find out some sort of insanity about the person and before you know it, I'd be plotting my revenge on a guy. My motto was, "You make my life miserable, I'm gonna make you wish you were dead." But that takes a whole lot of energy and wastes a lot of time.

So I had to learn to be more level headed, get to know someone as a friend first and see past the mirage of that chemical reaction that happens when you feel that spark. I had to take a step back and learn to analyze men very carefully. Grill them like nothing else and grill myself too. After all, it's really difficult to figure out who you are as a woman and what you really want in a world that has so many jacked up images of women and men...and "love".

What do you think? do you believe in soul mates, true love, following the spark? Or no?


Jen said…
I think I believe in both, although I definitely agree the spark thing isn't enough. When I came back from my first date with my DH, though, I called a good friend and told her that I'd met the man I was going to marry.

But that had more to do with his having "all the right qualities" than the spark thing. The spark thing came later. And the right qualities were more like his love for children, our thinking the same way on certain issues, etc., than his being a "good provider" or whatever.
Mes Deux Cents said…
Hi Liz,

First, there are billions of people in the world, how is it that we expect our supposed one and only soul mate to happen to live in the place that we do?

I think soul-mates are made and not born. I really believe that we create our own soul-mates through hard work and honesty.

The question really becomes are we willing to do the work required to make someone our soul-mate. Most people aren't, we expect as you said, a fairy tale.

I have read a lot about arranged marriages. The interesting thing that I find is that there are very few divorces among those couples. I think that has to do with the practical aspects of arranged marriage.

And from what I've heard, people in arranged marriages say that they fall in love after being married for a while. I know that sounds back-ass-wards to us westerners but how is our track record with marriage?

Ian Lidster said…
After the failure of my 2nd marriage, I vowed I wouldn't marry again, as much as I genuinely love women.
However, when Wendy and I met it was an experience unlike I'd had in my first two marriages -- the first was 'young love', the second was just plain lust, and intense sexual attraction for both of us, but with Wendy, what I realized was 'comfort'. She made me comfortable, almost serene in her presence. I did the same for her. We've honestly never looked back, even after a decade.

As for soulmates, Joseph Campbell has some interesting insights into that, and part of it revolves around the fact our soulmates aren't always benevolent and loving forces. My 2nd and I were definitely soulmates -- we both agreed to that -- but we couldn't live with each other (except for the sex which made us hang in longer than we should have). Campbell believes soulmates are those with whom we have a deep connection and who are meant to teach us something. That works for me.
thailandchani said…
Ian already said some of what I was going to say.. regarding Joseph Campbell. I do believe we have soulmates but it has nothing to do with love.

With the kind of love you are talking about, I agree with all you've written.
Anonymous said…
I think that you can love many people for many different reasons. Soul mates are for movies. That said, I think I found my true best friend in my wife. We're like best friends with benefits. I can't see my life without her. That was actually why I proposed. I thought about my life without her and I couldn't stand it.

Early on I was totally infatuated with her. She was older, more educated, a psychotherapist - it was all very sexy. We were into PDA, the whole thing. But gradually we started to actually love and it was something else. It was funny and supportive. It was intimate and smart. It was real.

I never subscribe to the traditional. (That's why I'm a black daddy blogger.) My wife made more money than me until she worked part time, and I thought it was great. She has a masters, I still have a lowly BA. None of it matters because we are, um, soul mates. I'm such a hypocrite!
BZ said…
OUCH! Dude #3 is always what I seem to encounter. The men who are making sh*t happen for themselves but are just never "ready". So tired!!!

Hence, cleaning the slate.

I don't think there is only ever one "soul mate". I think what most people consider to be their soul mate is the yin to their yan. Someone who's relationship DNA mirrors our own (someone who is strong where we're weak and weak where we're strong, etc.).
Anonymous said…
Hmm my mate and I started off as screw buddies. He was still in love with his wife that he was seperated from, and I was in a relationship. However with Screw buddy relationships it began to evolve and I realized neither he nor I was ready to committ to each fast forward 4 years and we meet up again. This time he's divorced, but ex-wife is still very much in the pix. But then we had a kid together...still couldn't get past the physical. Fast forward a year. Finally, we decide to really sit down and talk.We moved in together after about a year, but fastforward the relationship 5 years to present day...and now I think he's ready for marriage. He's ready to be a husband and a dad. The spark...its there but the stresses in our lives makes it hard to keep it going...but I honestly believe there is a deeper bond between the two of us!
Jameil said…
i think soul mates aren't just restricted to a sexual/physical male/female connection. one of my homies and i finish each others sentences. i don't make it a habit of looking to "sex & the city" for guidance but they made each other their soul mates that way men were the icing on the cake. everyone knows i love pound cake and am very picky about icing. can really live w/o it.

i really want a companion in life, but he needs to be a companion and he's gonna have to do some work to get to that level. no. 3 is huge for me. if that's what you need to get married, you probably never will. on the other hand, if its really the person for you, maybe you'd figure that out. spark is good, but like you said, there needs to be something under there. i sooo want to be friends first. my mom taught me that's the best way and i really believe that.

also... can't stand the dudes who give me their resume. i don't care how much you own. what really moves you that matters? lame.
"I'd then forget to ask the tough questions surrounding who that person really was, what they were really about, what did they really care about?"

Preach on sister!
Liz Dwyer said…
I totally think having those right qualities make that spark happen. Those special qualities are what get you through the tough times.

"The question really becomes are we willing to do the work required to make someone our soul-mate." -- Now that needs to be put on a T-shirt or something. Now that's real! And your thoughts on arranged marriage make me think that what we need is a mashup of Eastern and Western marriage traditions.

Thanks for sharing your experiences so honestly. It's very interesting to me that at the end of the day, being with someone you're comfortable with can make all the difference. That's not something we're really taught.

I never thought about the idea that a soulmate could possible not be a good force in your life. Hmm, I've never heard of Joseph Campbell. I definitely believe a soul mate can teach you something. That's surely true.

You're co-signing on Joseph Campbell as well! Who is this guy? I'll have to check him out.

Aww...I like that "best friends with benefits" thing. I love that y'all were into PDA. I never was and sometimes feel like I missed out on something. :) Now I think I'm a little old for all that. And nice to see another guy who's comfortable with his wife having more formal education. A great relationship is never about the number of degrees. I have two more than my husband. :)

Yeah, I know a whole lot of #3's. They come over my house and complain about how the ladies they are seeing are pressuring them but they're not ready yet because they haven't accumulated enough paper. I tell them they're gonna be 40 and getting married to some 19 year-old because by then, they'll be having a midlife crisis!

I like the concept of relationship DNA. You all are gettin' deep on me!

That's really something that you all kept reconnecting like that over so many years. The initial circumstances sound like such a test of will/spirit.

I absolutely agree about the negative impact of stress. It can kill any sort of "spark".

I'm so glad you said that it doesn't have to be a male/female kind of thing. That is SUCH a good point.

Yeah, being friends first is the way to go. It's the only way I'm not killing someone when shoes and clothes are all over the floor! For real, a fly resume is not going to help me if I want to kill you! LOL!
Liz Dwyer said…
Oops, I forgot to reply to your comment! Sorry! :)
It's funny how I remember that at one point the only thing I cared about was whether a guy looked good or not. So lame. Thank goodness I matured beyond that. It would be a shame if I hadn't.
Ha. I saw that "Sex and the City" episode.

I think in the States, esp. there is so much pressure to find the "one". Nobody can live up to that kind of pressure. I think a spark can jump off the relationship but it won't sustain it.
I believe in soul mates but I also believe that there is not just "one" person out there for us. I think there are a few people whom we could POTENTIALLY be happy with. I think a lot depends on Timing, Maturity, as well as Fate.

Just had to put my two cents in there! Ha!
Liz Dwyer said…
You're so right! There is a ridiculous amount of pressure and nobody can live up to it. That leads to, "I thought you were my soul mate but...!"

You know, I've only seen SATC a couple of times. I just did not get the appeal of SJP.

Glad you put in your two cents. I think there's a few people we could be happy with too. You make think about that movie "Serendipity" -- I absolutely love it and it's totally about being with your soul mate. It's all fate and timing, and the two characters have probably matured by the end. But, if they hadn't reconnected, would they have still had happy lives?
Anonymous said…
Hey Liz,
I happened to watch "Serendipity" this weekend while I was in NYC. It really is my kind of movie...I'm kind of going through something like that myself right now. But I'm pretty sure the ending won't be like that. :(
Liz Dwyer said…
I've been wondering how your trip was. Did you have fun? I watched Serendipity this weekend too! It was on TNT or of the two! I wish your ending would turn out like that...but if not, the karmic/meant-to-be side of things says that there's someone else out there for you.
storyteller said…
If others hadn't, I'd have mentioned Joseph Campbell here also (just occurred his intials are JC like another influential fellow). The man's work certainly got ME thinking about the way relationships work (along with other "stuph").
Hugs and blessings,
Lydia said…
Hey Liz,
It has taken me a couple of days to respond to this post because I am personally in the midst of this ponder.

Honestly, right now I don't know the answer to your question. I am sure like you suggested, everytime Liz Taylor got married she thought, "This is the one".

In this moment in time, I think that I have only one "soul mate". That would be me.

I do feel however, that there is more than one person that can be a part of filling my soul.

As I slowly and painfully depart from the person that I believed to be my "soul mate" for the last 9 years, I realize that it, t is too big of a responsibility to put on one person, even one person that is capable ( unlike my mate).

Sparks are wonderful, but I can see right thru them.

My views of "till death do us part", "forever " and "the one" are under revision. And this is a good thing.
Brianna said…
You are so spot on about the type of men in Los Angeles!

I just found your blog and wanted to say hello. :)
Liz Dwyer said…
I just googled him last night and Campbell seems very interesting. He liked James Joyce, always a plus in my book!

I wish I could give you a hug...I wish it could be different, that your journey was different because the changes you're going through, while making you ultimately stronger, are heartbreaking. If you need anything, let me know. I'm thinking about you.

Welcome! Glad you came by to visit and say hello.

I wish I was wrong about the guys. There are those gems that have their heads on straight. And, I'm sure the guys have plenty to say about women out here!
Lisa Blah Blah said…
Late to the party (what else is new), but jumping in nonetheless!

Sweet Dub and I joke that we have an arranged marriage -- his mom (my co-worker) set us up on a blind date. She did this after knowing me for a couple of years, and realizing over time how much we had in common. We were both reluctant to get set up, but once we met, we realized we genuinely liked each other. I felt an immediate easiness with him, that I could be myself, but I didn't fall in love with him right away. I wasn't even immediately attracted to him! It took a couple of months of us slowly getting to know each other, and then we went into fast forward mode. One day I realized I was in love with him. We were married a year after we met, and we are still happily married 6 years later. We weren't soul mates when we met, but today we finish each other's thoughts. We feed each other's creativity and spirit. With all that, I still don't know if I'd say we are soul mates. If you had asked me the same question about the man in my last serious relationship pre-Sweet Dub, I would have said he was my soul mate. Now I look back on it and smack myself in the head for how stupid I was! It was not a healthy relationship

You wrote, "...for me, it learned it was just too easy to get carried away by that instant spark of attraction. I'd then forget to ask the tough questions surrounding who that person really was, what they were really about, what did they really care about?"

This was me. I had to take a break from dating and figure out what on earth I wanted, not just from a relationship but from all other aspects of my life. Once I got my head together around that, I was able to make much more self-caring decisions about who to get involved with. Part of that was finding out what each potential partner wanted out of life and if our values were similar. Like MDC says, "I think soul-mates are made and not born." I feel very lucky to have found someone who is fully committed to the everyday work of marriage, realizing that it's not all a bed of roses everyday.

Sorry to blab on so long, but as you can see from the other comments this is a hot topic!
Liz Dwyer said…
Oh my goodness, that's so romantic! Not in the lightning bolt sort of way, but in the way that you got to know him for who he really is, without all the fronting and pretense. And then there's that moment when you suddenly see him differently and realize that there's more there than you originally thought. Love that his mom set you both up. High-five to mom for having her third eye in working order!

I loved reading that so thank you for sharing --and it is never too late on this CP time-oriented blog!
Liz Dwyer said…
LOL! But why?
Jack Steiner said…
I stumbled onto your post and wanted to say that I fully believe in soul mates.

Some people just understand you better than everyone else.

I think that what some people forget is that every relationship has its moments. Even the soul mate can fall apart if you don't tend to it.
Liz Dwyer said…
Jack's Shack,
Glad you stumbled on my blog and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you make a great point. You can definitely have "the one" and if you don't do the things to make the relationship last, it will fall apart.

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