Remember when I interviewed Struggling Dad a few weeks ago? Since then, we’ve had sporadic cross-Atlantic conversations about our respective situations, histories and various bizarre cultural differences between Americans and Europeans. Not necessarily an easy thing to do, with a 6h time difference and frantic timetables, but here is our first joint post examining whether or not soul-mates exists.
First up, we turn to Struggling Dad, whose wife recently moved out:
I believe most of us have soul-mates, but I don’t think there is only one soul-mate for each of us.
For one thing, the math is against it. There are 3 billion people of the opposite sex on the planet, maybe 500 million if we allow for age groups, and more than 10 million just in the USA in an age group close to mine. Finding just one ‘The One’ is not realistic and hardly anyone would ever find their special someone.
If there’s more than one soul-mate for me, then what does the term mean? How exclusive is this ‘soul-mate’ club exactly?
I think that a soul-mate includes chemistry but is something more than just chemistry.
It’s finding someone that is compatible in many areas of your life.
It’s finding that mix of romance and friendship that creates a ‘perfect storm’ of vitality, affection, and passion.
It’s finding someone with whom you feel completely comfortable.
When I use “compatible,” I don’t mean “similar.” Relationships often thrive on differences. Being compatible means that the differences add to the relationship rather than detract from it. It doesn’t matter whether the differences are political, religious, age, recreational interests … provided those differences don’t become a divisive force.
My wife was my soul-mate even though we had many differences.
I can’t eat seafood, but she loves it. I love most vegetables, but she won’t touch any that are “green” (and this list includes the obvious things like peas and broccoli and spinach, but also less obvious choices like avocado and cauliflower).
We both read broadly, but she has a rule about never reading the same book twice whereas I re-read my favourites many times.
For me a Sunday morning is a time to be a little indulgent. As a couple, even with kids, there shouldn’t be any rush to get out of bed; it can be a time for chatting and small talk. For my wife, it was always a time to rush to the grocery store and beat the crowds to get the weekly shopping done. [This difference actually did irritate me.]
We had other differences that I just ignored (I think we both ignored) because we ‘connected’ a deep level and understood each other very well.
Making the assumption that there is no repair to my situation and we do not end up figuring this out, I’m not sure The Next One for me, the next serious relationship, could be any less than another soul-mate. I don’t know how close I want to let myself get to someone unless I saw a relationship as possibly open-ended.
For an alternate view, we turn to Lady E, who was abandoned by her partner at the start of the year (that would be me, innit. I like that Struggling Dad generously ennobled me):
Funnily enough the question of soul-mates made me realise that as much as I know what I don’t believe in eg. God, the memory of water, Santa Claus, I no longer know what I believe in…
I did believe in the sort of connection you are describing, the mixture of chemistry and friendship, and I guess an intangible depth, which is hard to describe: Perhaps an intuitive ability to feel the other person, to recognise parts of yourself in them, and the feeling of coming home you can experience when you feel accepted as you are.
This is certainly what happened with T. We both saw ourselves in the other, and accepted each other, our difficult pasts and our flaws…This made our bond strong enough that we had faith in the future, and did not want to waste any time before committing to one another.
Then I guess life happened, the reality of uprooting our lives to move from England to France, of having a new baby, and dealing with too many stresses without enough time to digest them. It must have caused us to drift apart, it certainly put a lot of strain on our relationship and our ability to communicate.
Still, even though it was hard to hear above the humdrum of everyday life in a new family, there were quieter moments, when I could feel the pulse of our initial bond. And this is where my belief shatters… How could T and I be soul-mates, when at the same time that I felt our bond was very much alive in spite of the hardship, he felt it was stone dead, beyond resuscitation, and requiring urgent disposal to avoid unpleasant smells?
Two interesting observations: Firstly, the only other person I felt might be a soul-mate was Skater Boy, and both he and T are French like me. Most of my other boyfriends were from other nationalities, and while this brought an undeniable richness to the relationship, I am beginning to think that it also created a distance, perhaps from not speaking my own language, not sharing the same cultural background, I don’t know really…
So as a follow-up to your comment about differences, I would argue that it does help not to have too many differences, because you need to have enough in common to keep you going over the years…
Secondly, and this is quite disturbing, both Skater Boy and T ended up leaving me. Then again, I’m an expert in viruses, not soul-mates.
So in conclusion, since the two people I have actually called my soul-mates turned out to behave like immature fuckwits, if I were you, I would just studiously ignore everything I have said on the subject.
Ooh, and here’s Lily Allen’s brilliant Fuck you song:
Can you tell I’m angry today 🙂 ?