He’s not “the one”… no one is!
Why we need to stop obsessing over finding our soulmate.
The idea of soulmates is not a new one. It is a concept that has been circulating for literally millennia. One famous example of it appearing in ancient times is Plato’s Symposium. Written in c. 385-370 BC, it describes the bitter tale of man’s initial form and how the gods ended up resenting and punishing humankind for it. The story goes that man began as an entity with two faces, four arms, four legs and two sets of genitalia. The genitalia determined their gender, so three existed in total – male, female and androgynous (the last gender having both male and female parts). Man thrived in such a form – two ‘heads’ being better than one (pardon the pun!) – but it did not do so for long. The Olympians, known for their jealousy and pettiness, soon noticed the achievements of man and feared what could happen next.
What are those humans up to? Do they honestly believe they are better than us? Would they be so bold as to try and overthrow us? The gods weren’t going to take any chances so deliberations began. Some suggested using Zeus’ thunderbolt to destroy the humans, but others weren’t willing to give up the sacrifices they had been receiving from man thus far. So more talk ensued until Zeus finally came up with the ultimate penalty. Man are to be split into two, he declared, not only will this deplete their strength but it will also double the amount of sacrifices for us all! At this, the gods cheered and the punishment was carried out. Each being was brutally split down the middle, doomed to forever search for their other half – and so the idea of the soulmate was born!
While I find this story an enchanting one (not to mention refreshing as it is one of history’s few texts that openly explains and celebrates homosexuality), I am disappointed at how closely today’s society still reads into the philosophy of soulmates and how many people still believe that they need to find “the one” in order to feel “complete”.
For one, it is insulting to those who choose to live on their own or who end up being alone. It implies that a singleton’s existence can’t be a happy or worthy one, which is simply not true. Independence is something that everyone needs, even when in a relationship. After all, many couples break down because of clingy partners, so clearly some time alone is a good thing.
Secondly, the concept of soulmate implies that it is up to someone else to make you happy, but in my experience, the best relationships are those in which people encourage their partners to find their own happiness. Philosophers since Buddha’s time have concluded that striving is the key to feeling content so finding a partner is just a small stepping stone. What truly matters is how you interact with your loved one and how much effort you put into the relationship to make it work. Happiness in love, therefore, isn’t in finding someone as much as it is in continually working through life’s trials together with that person and supporting each other every step of the way.
Finally, with more than 7 billion people in the world, it is hard to believe that there is only one person out there for everyone in the first place. If this were truly the case, why would we go through so many crushes or partners during our lives? Surely, if we only had one true soulmate, we wouldn’t feel attraction towards anyone apart from the person that was meant for us. The fact is, humans are sociable by nature so if all of us can maintain multiple friendships in a lifetime, we are definitely capable of having more than one partner too.
That is not to say that we can’t be with one individual for the rest of our lives though. As hopefully demonstrated by my second point, what makes a relationship so fulfilling isn’t the fact that you need to be with that person, but it’s that you still want to be with them despite whatever life throws your way.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m never going to worry about finding “the one”, because the idea of someone choosing to stick by me, rather than being destined to sounds a whole lot more romantic anyway…