Are soulmates real?
The idea of a soulmate dates back to the ancient world and lives on in famous works of art and literature throughout history, such as that of Plato, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, and Botticelli. Roughly two-thirds of Americans still believe in soulmates. This is because the desire for a relationship comes not from the body but from the soul's innate need to find fulfillment. The belief in soul mates is profoundly personal and has remained rooted through the ideology presented in pagan mythology, as well as the religious understanding of love put forth in Christian and Judaic scripture. And cultural favorites demonstrate contemporary belief in soulmates. Everything from TV shows like The Bachelor and Love is Blind, to novels from classic and modern authors Jane Austen and Nicholas Sparks, and pop songs like Wreckless Eric's 'Whole Wide World'—with lyrics that optimistically sing, 'When I was a young boy / My mama said to me / There's only one girl in the world for you / And she probably lives in Tahiti'—celebrate this idea.
Many mathematicians have said the actual probability of meeting one's soul mate is slim at best. However, abstract, non-physical ideas like destiny, Karma, dreams, and each individual's complexity are not within the domain of mathematical probability or scientific understanding. Instead, the belief in soulmates, like many other aspects of our culture like morality and social norms, stems from the spiritual and metaphysical ideas that are as old as time.
The idea of there being only one distinguished person who's right for you for all of life, aka the 'soulmate,' is merely that—an idea, not anything based on scientific fact. Believing you're separated from and must find your one true other half is an Ancient Egyptian myth, later mentioned in Plato's Symposium. Plato quotes Greek philosopher Aristophanes, who told a tale of Zeus splitting a two-faced, four-legged, four-armed being in half, 'condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.' Just as the idiom 'to open Pandora's Box' is based on a Greek myth and is not a literal reference, we should understand soulmates the same way — as mythological idealism.
According to Shauna H. Springer Ph.d., 'The soulmate script is fundamentally a happily-ever-after script. This script surely has a place in fairy tales, but not in real life.' Then a survey conducted by Springer asked over 1,200 well-educated women whether they believed in the soulmate philosophy. Eighty-one percent of the participants believed in 'the possibility of more than one potentially well-suited partner.' This supports the idea that soulmates are based more on belief than fact.
There are numerous ways in which individuals define soulmates, but the biggest factor in finding a mate is geography. Clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona states, 'the reality is there are almost 8 billion people in the world now, and many of them can be well-suited to be in a healthy, fulfilling, satisfying, romantic relationship with each other.' Your soulmate, therefore, is the person you chose to spend your life alongside.
- Social psychologists, Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwartz (2014), indicate that believing your soulmate is your perfect match can set you up for failure. People who use this definition of soulmates tend to experience overreactions to conflict and lower relationship satisfaction.
- 74% of males believe they are destined to find their soulmate, while women are at 71%.
- There are two trains of thought with the theory behind soul mates: the belief in destiny and belief in growth. Destiny belief stems from the idea that each person has a literal soulmate. On the opposite side, believers in growth find that relationships build; with time, your significant other will turn into your soul mate.
- About 88% of Americans cited love as a key reason to get married, ahead of making a lifelong commitment (81%) and companionship (76%).