The idea of soulmates dates back to Ancient Greece. The philosopher Plato believed that the god Zeus split human souls in half to punish humans for their egotistical nature. Therefore, each human soul roamed the earth in hopes of being reconnected with their other half. This idea has been adopted in fairy tales and then Disney films. Children grow up hearing about their future soulmates and believe that it is their destiny to find them.
It is thus understandable that, in a 2011 Marist poll, 73% of Americans claimed to believe in soulmates, while only 27% did not.
Regardless of their actual existence, if one believes they have found their soulmate, they may have a set of expectations – such as the notion that once we meet that other half, we can sit back and relax because the hard part is over. Yet psychologists have found that love is not just something we get and then have indefinitely, but something we do each day. The idea of soulmates could potentially be harmful to society; it makes people believe that love is passive and something that happens to you when it is usually the opposite. Love is better understood as something we actively choose to do each day.
Despite the data, students at the University of Edinburgh were sceptical about the existence of soulmates.
One student told The Student:
“I don’t believe that there is a perfect person for everyone. I believe instead that you find someone who you get on well with and you try your best to love one another. But you could equally do that with someone else.
Perhaps the beauty of love is deciding to spend your time with one particular person even though you could just as well spend time with others.”
Another said: “I feel that one person has many soulmates. Your best friend can be your soulmate. Your sibling could be your soulmate. Why do we think we are limited to just one soulmate who is a romantic love? Humans feel all different kinds of love at once.”.
It seems that for many young people, the traditional idea of a soulmate is becoming less relevant.
What it seems to mean now is the action of loving someone because you choose them to be your other half, not because they are predestined to match you perfectly.
As one student remarked:
“There are like 8 billion people on this planet. I am never going to meet them all, so I will choose my partner among the people I do know.”
The idea of a soulmate is becoming more loosely defined and can now represent someone, romantic or not, that loves you as you are and chooses to spend their time with you.
Rather than a perfect person existing out there for everyone, perhaps we ought to understand a soulmate as a person we actively choose to love every day despite all the odds.
Image Credit: “candy hearts” by jamz196 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.