True or False: Each person has a true, perfect, and unique soul mate out there somewhere in the world – waiting to be found.
False! The myth that each of us has a ‘perfect other half’ is damaging to many relationships. Because, after the initial bliss of early relationship, conflict starts to erupt, tensions mount and unpleasant emotions become more frequent. Often the thought is – “Oh no, I thought this person was my soul mate – but they are not the one.” Exiting the relationship seems like the solution. So then the search for the one true soul mate can continue (but of course there is no one true soul mate).
Developing a deep intimate connection requires time, energy, work and commitment. Wishing and searching for a soul mate cannot provide . Even Match.com or E-Harmony cannot provide the commitment required.
So if I cannot find my perfect soul mate – what can I do to seek lasting fulfillment in relationship? While it is not about discovering the one right person – it IS about developing the circumstances where your intimacy will grow.
1. Focus on BEING the right person, not finding the right person
This is easier said than done. Almost everyone I see for couples counseling would rather focus on their partner’s flaws than look at their own contribution to difficulties in the relationship. It is possible to focus your attention on how YOU want to be in relationship. What traits and qualities do you need to develop to attract the kind of partner you want to find?
2. Recognize that differences bring tension, which can vitalize a relationship, or destroy it
Often the qualities that are so enduring at the beginning of the relationship may become burdensome or annoying as the relationship develops. The tension that is naturally stimulated by our differences does crate powerful energy. Learn how to harness the energy for good in your relationship
3. Be patient with yourself and your partner
Growing a soul mate is not easy! How can you slow down and appreciate your partner and yourself is the difficulty. It may help to slow down your breathing. Slow down your thinking, reflect on the times you have felt very connected. Recognize that growth takes time and sometimes pain. Contemplate this quote form Robert Persig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
“If you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.”
4. Remember the wonderful qualities of your partner and your relationship
You were attracted to your partner for a reason (or many reasons). And at some points in your relationship your partner brought out the best qualities in you. Recognize and honor that this has happened before, and can happen again. Perhaps you can make a list of the positive qualities that you have experienced in your partner and in the relationship. Read the list when you get frustrated in the relationship.
While there is no such thing as a perfect soul mate just waiting for you, it is possible to grow one.
Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.