“He’s just not the one”, “I can’t wait to find my soul mate one day”, or even the slightly juvenile “waiting for my one true love”, etc, are practically every-day phrases in the life of a young woman. I’m sure men have similar things in their adolescent worlds about finding “the one” as well, though I’m positive it’s not nearly to the extent as women do. But let me ask you: what’s a soul mate? Since the beginning of humanity we’ve been trying to answer this question, among others. What is love; why does it exist; what about us and them makes us love others; why do we have an inclination to settle down with one other person; are we truly monogamous beings or are we just subscribing to that lifestyle; is love just a chemical reaction in our brain to encourage and ensure reproduction and the continuation of the human race? The list goes on and on.
We as a society and culture have an interesting understanding of love. We are taught with adamancy that each one of us has “the one” somewhere out there and we have to find them in order to be truly happy. But we’re also taught the ‘free love’ ideology beginning in our early teenage-hood — this ideology that tells us that it’s okay to love and make love with whomever we like, and, in fact, we need to in order for us to lead a balanced life. But how can both of these ideologies exist harmoniously together without contradiction? (They can’t, that’s how).
Granted that we are actually monogamous beings, and we do experience love, what then does that mean for romantic love? Is a soul mate someone you just get along with and decide to do life together? Is it someone God made specifically for you, in order to complete you? Is it some one specific person who is out there among the seven-to-eight-billion people in the world, who you are meant to just find and fall in love with and grow old together with? Is it someone who you’re just compatible with and want to spend a few decades with until you “fall out of love”? Is that what a soul mate is? Is it even possible or likely that we would have one?
And then comes the ‘free love’ ideology that says, ‘yeah sure we all have soul mates, or maybe we don’t, but in order for us to lead a balanced, happy adult lifestyle then we must make love with whoever we want to — it’s only natural’, as they say. Yeah, sex is very natural, but it’s also so much more than just keeping a balanced, happy lifestyle. There’s a reason it’s called “making love” — because that’s the truest, most intimate way we can possibly show someone how much we love them. It is literally the physical giving and receiving of one another. If it weren’t, no one would ‘get attached’ after a casual hook-up. So there must be a higher form of love that goes along with sex, right? Which means that there must be someone to share that with, right? Which means we must have a soul mate, right? Not necessarily.
Just because we make love, and we are made to experience a greater form of love, doesn’t necessarily mean that there is only one person out there who was created to fulfill his/her primary purpose of completing us in this life, and that this person is alive at the same time as we are throughout all of human history, and that we have to find each other amidst all of the billions of other people across the seven continents, traditionally within the first twenty-to-thirty years of our lives. That’s just statistically impossible. It is possible that there is someone who is best suited to be our teammate, partner in crime, helper, etc, during our time on this earth, to help us get where we need to go (*hint: Heaven). And if something tragic happens to that best person (God forbid), there’s most probably a second best person to fill that job. Because love isn’t just an emotion: it’s a verb. It takes more than just a “spark” or falling in love to make someone that life-time-teammate. It takes an active choice of putting the other before you, several times a day, every day, until you’re dead. And that’s really hard.
I don’t mean to sound flippant or to be misunderstood as promoting the ‘free love’ lifestyle or anything like it — I am not. I’m merely venting about something that I believe to be so misunderstood and taken for granted that it is crippling how we relate and behave in relationship with one another these days. And that’s heartbreaking.
The term “soul mate” implies a completion of our souls. If you think about it, no one person can possibly do that. Not even our spouses. (I know, sorry 12-year-old me). Even though that fact may seem depressing right now (‘you mean this person I am so in love with wasn’t made just for me??’), it’s actually such a beautiful thing, because what does complete our souls is love. Not the feeling of love. Not the emotion. Not even the verb—not completely. Love Himself. Love, personified in God, is the mate (fulfillment) of our souls. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. We were made in the image and likeness of God, who is Love Himself, so it immediately follows that Love would be the thing/person that perfects our soul, nature, and person.
“We Are Made To Experience A Higher Form Of Love”
So what does this mean about romantic love? Is it not real? Is it not what we thought it was? Well, dearies, that’s just the icing on the cake. The thing is, we could choose any vocation in this life, and if we are still pursuing goodness, love, and truth in everything we do — if we choose to give it to God — then our choice will be blessed, even when things get hard down the line.
So, that could mean that you choose to remain a single person, or choose to enter the priesthood or religious life. That’s great! You can be so fulfilled and loved. We need to back away from this idolization of our spouses or future spouses as “soul mates”. Because you don’t need another person to complete or fulfill you. Because if you let Him, Love does that all by Himself.
So, I propose this: we do not have “the one”. We do not have a human “soul mate”. We have something better. We have Love Himself to fulfill us, and to help facilitate all of the rest of the goodnesses and beauties in our lives. And how beautiful and completely wonderful and crazy that, even though there are seven-to-eight-billion people in the entire world, we can love one of them, and that someone could love us back. And we could choose to actively love each other, and desire the objective good for the other, and transcend our original human nature and participate in the divine through our love as it participates in Love Himself, until our very last breath. The mathematical chances of that happening are slim to none, and yet it happens every day. What a gift.