(How belief in “the one” can be toxic to your happiness, especially if you’re single.)
I’ve met two women in my life that I would consider soul mates.
One was a manic pixie dreamer and the other was a charming, bewitching Midwesterner. I met them both while enjoying the perks of this great city, and by “perks” I don’t mean red carpet premieres or doing coke in the Malibu — I met them both while volunteering. But if these two different women were truly my soul mates, then why aren’t we still together? Because “soul mates” don’t exist, at least not by the common definition of the one person on the planet you’re destined to be with forever. I’ve never believed in soul mates mostly because if I did, then it would be an exercise in masochism – which one can argue is what love is mostly about anyway. Knowing my luck, if there was one true love for me then she’s most likely a Sherpa in the Himalayas or a shopkeeper in Kabul, neither of which I have plans on visiting anytime soon.
For the people that believe in soul mates then you may feel my view is “cynical”, but I would call it “realistic”. There are seven billion people in the world. That means assuming you’re not bisexual, there are 3.5 billion people out there that can possibly be your “one true love”. Statistically, what are the chances you’re going to meet this person? And what are the chances your mate is also currently single and hopefully lives in the same neighborhood or at least frequents the same bars that you do? And what makes you think you’re so special that it’s going to happen to you?
You most likely got the idea of a “soul mate” from pop culture — things that are designed for revenue generation. You didn’t hear about it from the wise old man sitting on the rocking chair at the general store — you heard it from a Ryan Reynolds movie. Literature and movies talk about “soul mates” because it’s a romantic ideal that will make you feel an emotion and consume more. You’re smart enough to know that movies aren’t like real life (neither is reality TV for that matter), so why do you pick “soul mates” as something that is non-fiction? Because you’re in love with the idea of love – and I completely understand because once you’ve experienced it you’ll do whatever it takes to get it back.
But if you’re single, believing in soul mates is toxic to your happiness. No one is going to be able to live up to your lofty “soul mate” ideal. By setting the bar to the unreachable, you’re going to eliminate people that don’t fit your preconceived notions. Chances are there’s not going to be an elaborate “meet cute” where you both grab for the same kale at Bristol Farms or simultaneously point at the same red velvet cupcake at Sprinkles. It’s more likely there’s going to be an awkward and rocky start that’s more 500 Days of Summer than Crazy Stupid Love.
“Soul mates” don’t exist. I’ve never believed in just one singular star-crossed love and perhaps that’s why I’ve been more open to meeting different people. What does exist though, is someone out there for you that can make you feel good about yourself and that will love you for the rest of your life. And the truth is there a many “soul mates” out there for you that will fit that bill. Romance can come in many different forms from many different types of people. We aren’t the characters in Disney movies or our favorite shows on the CW. This is reality, and in reality we sometimes have to temper our expectations to get what we want. In reality I know I won’t always get the cowgirl I want and be able to ride off in to the sunset. But I know that there are hundreds of “soul mates” around me right now if I just pay attention and give people a chance, especially in a metropolis like Los Angeles.
There are no soul mates and there is no “the one”. There is only “the one” you choose to make yours.
[Photo: Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii.]