The Myth of “Soul Mate”

“Soul mate” This is one of the orange words that I hear a whole lot of and this is the one that really and truly scares me. It is a phrase that is more of a neon light, glow in the dark, flashing fluorescent orange alert of a word. When a patient comes in and tells me that she/he has just met his or her “soul mate”, my highly trained auditory units (aka ears) respond by going into extreme hyper alert. My cochlea, incus and malleus all stand up at the ready and I metaphorically strap on my seatbelt. For the most part what I hear my client saying is that my patient believes that he/she has just met the person who will complete them (à la Jerry McGuire). And while that might sound wonderful when you hear Tom Cruise saying it when he is playing Jerry, the reality of the soul mate idea is a little more Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch.

The whole myth of soul mate is one that I find to be highly problematic and  one that is likely responsible for the ever-increasing rise in divorceand marital dissatisfaction. And, I am only half joking when I say that I wouldn’t be completely surprised to learn that divorce attorneys came up with the concept as a way of drumming up business. You see, I do not believe in soul mates nor do I believe in the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. There is no such thing as a soul mate, no matter what Plato said. Yes, besides the divorce attorneys, I blame Plato. 

The grandpooba of Philosphy, Plato, in his Symposium (which if published today might be the HOT book on relationships) suggested that the orignal humans had one head (made of two faces), four arms, four legs. However, Zeus being the hot head that he was a bit intimidated by the power of this multi-limbed/two-faced human and so he, in an act of self-preservation cut these humans in half. According to Plato, because of this, humans are doomed to spend the rest of their lives searching for their other half who completes them and the new age/self-help industry expands this concept to give us hope of finding our missing limbs and faces so we can once again be whole—the myth suggests that if we are lucky and are good and eat our vegetables, floss our teeth and have low fat percentages and a good credit score that we will find our other half on eHarmony.com or across a crowded room at speed-dating event at El Paso Cantina Grill. (I do think that this Soul Mate is likely Plato’s best selling philosophical concept and likely nets Plato’s heirs enough to keep them fat and happy and out of caves.) 

The bad news is that this was a myth and that there is no perfect other who will complete you. The truth is that relationships are incredibly hard work. And that living with another is an exercise in spiritual and emotional growth and requires enormous maturity and the capacity for compromise and negotiation. And truly, if there was such a thing as soul mates it is my sense that would mean that being in relationship would make you grow and expand your soul—a soul mate would not be a get-out-of-the-hard-work-that-is-relationships card. As a rule soul growth and or any kind of growth requires some pain, sweat and, at least, mild moments of misery. Rarely do I hear my clients bounding into their therapeutic hour filled with hope, enthusiasm, and cherubs circling their auric field and clutching a copy of Martha Stewart Bride in their hand when they come across other opportunities for psychological growth and that is because growth is hard. Relationships are hard. And a long-term relationship is ever harder.

Very soon, after meeting their soul mate, my patients learn that this perfect-person is not so perfect. They might even learn that this soul mate has annoying habits, leaves the toilet seat up, dresses in less than ideal ways and chews ice and doesn’t want to go shopping with them and that they really aren’t feeling so complete after all. This, to my way of seeing things, is a wonderful time when the client can withdraw their projections and learn what they had hoped they thought the soul mate could give them that they need to give themselves and they also learn that love is easy when someone seems perfect—but love is better when you are able to love someone in spite of their imperfections.  

Sometimes clients take advantage of this insight begin to do some real work into understanding their patterns in relationships and why exactly they felt so incomplete to begin with. Other clients decide to instead purchase an audio program of manifesting your soul mate. It is my professional opinion that the former have happier relationships than the later. The ones who don’t embrace the growth opportunities that meeting and marrying their soul mate offers often bring up words that are a dark shade of blue, words like “separation”, “attorneys”, “separation of assets”, and “divorce”.

adapted from the following article:http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freudian-sip/201101/soul-mates-and-other-words-im-afraid-0

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