Call me a stick in the mud, but part of my skepticism disagrees with the concept of True Love/Soul Mates. It is all a fantasy, a wish. I hope this discussion will either help me feel better about feeling this way, or change my mind. Go for it.
My college students all believe that everyone has a soul mate, one person who is absolutely the one you are meant to be with. Damned lucky, I think, that so many of them go to the same high school. What are the odds?
I agree. If we each have one special soulmate, what are the odds of finding them among the billions of people on Earth, not to mention throughout history? (Unless you believe in a God to arrange such a meeting for you - then it seems inevitable!) The fact that people find "true love" generally with someone in their own high school, college, home town, or even country suggests that each of us has many such compatible mates bouncing around out there. I think what makes a romantic bond special is time spent together building up a history of shared experience. That history makes each relationship unique and special.
Studies show that relationships go through phases. The "magical" romantic physical attraction that characterizes the beginning of a relationship naturally wears off over time. Then it takes devotion, commitment, communication - effort! - to keep a relationship happy and healthy and rewarding for both parties. Love is a verb! True love is something you do, not something that just happens to you.
"effort" implies forcing something to be a certain way.No, it doesn't. Effort means consciously working toward a certain end. In the case of maintaining a long-term relationship, effort means tending to your partner's needs. This could be as simple as doing your share of the chores, spending time together on "date night," remembering an anniversary, avoiding infidelity, etc. Those things don't happen by magic, and when they don't happen, the relationship suffers. Sure you can't force emotions, but you do have to put in the effort to continually earn your partner's love, respect, and devotion; your partner won't "force" those emotions on your behalf if you continually neglect the relationship. And if it feels effortless to you to tend to these relationship needs, then you are a better person than I! Sometimes you have to honor your obligations even when you aren't "feeling the love." Living with any other human 24/7 is a challenge, no matter how naturally compatible you are. Oh, and P.S. - it becomes ten times the challenge when kids are involved!
you tend to their needs because you want to, not because you're trying to "work towards a certain end" or "maintain a long-term relationship". feelings are about the present and the present only, the idea of "obligation" makes the whole thing seem dishonest.
also, i don't see the connection between having a sexual relationship with a person and living with them or raising children with them, these things can all be done separately. the religious idea of the family unit is not the only way to exist anymore than the idea of a soul mate is the only way to feel for someone.
awesome feedback, much appreciated. makes me feel better about how I feel, but also a kick in the butt to take responsibility for it my feelings as well. this is much more effective (and cheaper) than marriage counselling ;)
I think we all probably agree on what a soul mate is... the idea that one person is destined for another, which I think we all agree is hogwash. But perhaps we should define what "true love" is, as I think my idea might not be the same as others.
I equate true with being real. To me, a true love does not imply that there is only one person out there that I will fall in love with, but rather that once I do, it will be enjoyable because it was based on a good mixture of attraction, compatibility, and so on. Though, quite honestly, I never before considered using the term "true love" to describe my relationship, I do think it fits. And if, for some reason, I separate from or divorce my spouse, I don't think that takes away from the "true love" we had while together.
Well said GBM Harper. Though, through my own experience, that "magical romantic physical attraction that characterizes the beginning of a relationship" does not necessarily wear off, but rather ebbs and flows. There are times when we will be more in sync with our lovers, and times when we feel more distant. Waiting out and talking through those times when we are not in sync is beneficial, at least if your desire is to have a long term relationship.
I don't think "true love" is anything magical. I think it is the result of two people who fall in love working together to make a relationship last. I've just recently passed the threshold of living with my husband for more years than I lived without him. We are opposites in many ways, but we both value the same things. By being opposites, we both bring something interesting and novel to the other in a conversation, but because we have many of the same ideals, we have enough to rally together.