Is there anything more romantic than the concept of a soulmate? Is there anything more comforting and fulfilling than the idea that there's another person out there who will effortlessly complete you?
Naturally, most of us long for this notion of perfect and everlasting love. After all, these fantasies have been programmed into us since childhood: glass slippers, magical kisses, white horses, riding off into the sunset.
When we allow ourselves to believe that love and relationships are supposed to be a certain way, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We unconsciously place unfair expectations on our partners, and they do the same to us. When "happily ever after" doesn’t go according to plan, we feel betrayed. We become angry with our partners for failing to live up to what was supposed to be.
In equating a partner with a soulmate, we tend to lose tolerance for each other's humanity.
Another danger that accompanies this romantic fantasy is the immense amount of self-sacrifice that we're all-too-willing to put ourselves through in the name of Love. In an effort to please our perceived "perfect person," we deny our own humanity. We suppress our not-so-good feelings. We ignore our needs. We continuously compromise and capitulate.
As a result, we lose ourselves. We become something less authentic than what our partners found desirable in the first place. And in the end, the connection fades. When the relationship concludes, we've lost a partner, as well as our sense of self. It's a devastating double whammy.
What if we could erase the expectations of a soulmate from our culture and mental processes? What if we simply leaned into the ride of a relationship, riding the highs and lows while maintaining personal integrity and autonomy? What if couples learned and grew together—until they didn’t anymore—at which point they could discuss their individual directions and visions to determine future compatibility? And, if it was appropriate, they could then choose to let go and discover new territory in different directions.
Maybe it's simply too much to ask another human to be a soulmate. Maybe it's healthier to choose a "life mate." And maybe it's okay for our life mates to change as we stay true to our own individual evolution.