How we’ve misunderstood the concept of ‘Soulmate’

Here’s how Dictionary.com defines the word:

It’s correct and most of us would agree but here’s how we’ve misunderstood the concept:

  1. We believe there’s just one.
  2. It’s someone we are romantically and (usually) sexually involved with.

We live in a time of excess. One smartphone is simply not enough. I also want an iPad, iPod and laptop. Let’s not go into the DSLRs and GoPros of the world. So why have we continued to stick to the idea of one soulmate?

I’m not advocating polygamy here. Although I believe once LGBTQ becomes ‘the norm’, polygamy will be the cause du jour of the next generation.

Fairy tales, literature, pop culture, advertising have conditioned us to believe that our other half is somewhere out there. And once we’ve found him/her our life will be complete. The bond will be pure, infinite and everlasting — sealed by a diamond or platinum (whatever you like).

In a bid to find this mythical other half, we often disregard the soulmates that already exist in our life. These are (vary for each individual but generally speaking) our parents, siblings, best friends, friends, ex-partners, children, and whoever else you share a strong affinity, values and tastes with.

Sex & Love Guru, Carrie Bradshaw, puts it lightly

Human beings are complex individuals. On a fundamental level, all of us share the basic need to be understood. It’s unreasonable, unfair and impossible to expect one person to be able to understand the whole of me. I’m not underestimating another’s potential, I’m simply saying we’re asking for too much. Therefore, I refuse to burden my romantic partner aka soulmate with this humongous need.

There maybe some parts of me that instantly connect with him but there are other aspects that I couldn’t expect him to understand. He hasn’t been with me from the day I took my first breath, that special place is held by my parents. My siblings guard all my embarrassing tales from childhood. My best friend from college has seen me through my ‘coming of age’ years. A colleague who became a friend would understand my professional struggles. Sometimes there’s a song or work of fiction that instantly expresses something even I didn’t know about myself.

My partner’s been living a whole different life for the past 26 years. By a stroke of luck we happened to cross paths and connect. He can share with me his journey so far and I can share with him mine, but there will always be that portion of his life, his struggles, his achievements, his personality that I wasn’t a part of and will probably never understand. Which is okay.

(This is the cohesive version of a disjointed conversation over drinks with The Bhave. Also, this New York Times article does a much better job of expressing some more thoughts that I was probably unable to put down.)