gimme a break: the great soulmate debate

I recently had a conversation with one of my past students about her relationship with her boyfriend of six months (Yes, several of my students randomly email me or come by my office for relationship advice once they find out what I study.). She was concerned that she was wasting her time in her relationship because her and her partner both felt that they were not soulmates yet. She said that she thought he had the potential to be her soulmate, but that so far, he wasn't making the cut. And apparently, he felt the same way. This was the gist of our conversation:

Me: "Why do you feel this way? Are you not attracted to him? Is he mean to you? Do you fight a lot? What is it?"

Past Student: "No no no. We're both attracted to one another, he's not mean, and we haven't ever had an argument." (Ahhh, young love.)

Me:"Well then, what is it?"

Past Student: "We don't have the same hobbies."

Me: "So?"

My past student seemed rather shocked by my response, but the truth of the matter was that I was shocked by her response. Seriously? Having different hobbies is tearing them apart? So what? Who says that two people have to like the same things to be madly in love?

Then, I started to think that she wasn't telling me the whole story. There had to be something else going on that was making her so unhappy. She insisted that this was a HUGE issue in their relationship. I then assured her that not having the same hobbies was not generally a deal-breaker.

"My husband and I don't like the same things, but we're great together. Do you think my husband likes doing crafty things? No, he doesn't. And I don't like going to car shows every single chance I get, but my husband lives for them. As long as you have similar core values, beliefs, and attitudes, you should be good to go."

I continued to talk to her about how having similar values about money, sex, kids, chores, gender roles, religion, and politics are much more important (but still not even necessary) for compatibility than what you like to do on the weekends. But that doesn't mean that you should each have your own completely separate lives, either. You still need to make an effort to go and do the things that he likes and he should do the things that you like every once in awhile. For instance, I don't lurve car shows, but I'll go to one with Hus because I know it's important to him and so that we can spend time together. Same thing goes with the craft stuff. Hus would never go to a public craft-making place on his own (or with anyone else but me, really), but he's taken me to a paint-your-own-pottery place several times. We sit, we paint, and we talk. It's a really nice time for us to bond.

Then, she said, "I just feel like if we don't have the same hobbies, then he's not my soulmate. And I need to find my soulmate."

"What do you mean by soulmate?" I asked.

She continued, "Your soulmate is the one person in the world who you are destined to be with."

"Wait a minute. Do you mean to tell me that we all only have ONE person who is our soulmate? And that we have to look on the entire planet for that person?"

"Well, yeah," she said.

Let's get a couple of things straight. First, "a soulmate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility." Second, it is completely illogical to believe that there is only one person in the world who you can share these feelings with. If we all go around believing that we each only have one soulmate in the world (in the entire world), many of us will never find relationship happiness; especially since most people tend to stay in their country of origin and many people never even leave their original hometown.

Gimme a f-ing break. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but in my opinion, you do not have just one soulmate. And, your relationship is not doomed if you have different hobbies. In fact, that will probably help you each maintain a sense of individuality when you are combining your separate lives into a shared life. My advice to my student? Relax. You're fine. Enjoy your relationship, spend time together, respect each other's hobbies, and let your love for one another grow.

What do you think about the great soulmate debate?

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Maren said...

Agreed agreed agreed. When we were first dating Lance totally believed in all that soul mate junk. Me telling him what I thought probably didn't help matters, but hey, 11 years later and we're doing fine. And definitely do not have the same hobbies.

And one person, only? What happens if that other person dies before you can ever meet them? What happens if you meet them on a really bad day and you just don't click? I'm just sayin', the whole soul mate thing leaves a lot up to chance. Kinda sounds like an easy out to me.

Laura said...

That's putting an awfully lot of pressure on someone then. I can't help but wonder if there's some co-dependence going on. To rely on one person for that much??

Yes. I knit. Like a lot (OH HAI RSIs!!!) Jermaine can play video games literally all night. It's sometimes difficult for him to get excited over a pair of socks I just finished just like it might be difficult to completely understand his latest attack on the "bad guys" in the game. But I get his passion and he gets my sense of accomplishment.

I like the purple, by the way!

Pants said...

The idea of a single soulmate is waaay too much pressure. I don't know why we as a culture like to think of soulmates as a singular person. One of the greatest beauties of it is that you get to CHOOSE your soulmate. If you believe in a single soulmate, then really what you are doing is giving up your right to choose.

And I like the purple, too.

Cherry De said...

I am a firm believer in Soul Mates! I feel like I have found mine for sure! But I am also divorced and thought my ex husband was my Soul Mate! I guess in a way (as much as I don't want to admit it)he is. We have 4 beautiful children together and for that we will always have a connection that I will not have with my new relationship. Even if we do have any children together. Thanks for sharing your opinion, I admit before reading this I was a believer in that whole "one person" thing! You have definitly opened my eyes! Just stumbled across your website yesterday and I have to say I love it!

Rosie said...

Well, I could believe in "twin flame" thing, but I don't think you have to have the same hobbies. On the other hand, it's really good if you have SOME of the same hobbies and if you genuinely appreciate what the other person likes. For example, my boyfriend can't sing--can't match pitches very well, can't shape his tone nicely--but he does enjoy listening to me sing, and he does love music. We usually like similar music. We both--no joke--love long walks on the beach, hiking, music festivals, camping, birdwatching, etc. He's a sailor and boat rigger; I love sailing, but I don't know much about it. I like cooking; he likes eating (and helping. and sometimes cooking himself). I like plants and gardening; he does to some extent. He likes building and tinkering, which I think is awesome.

That may have been too many example, but the point is it really depends on how you view each others' hobbies. If Jack thought gardening was stupid, and if I hated boats, we might not be in as good a place as we are. But the hobbies that we don't share, we appreciate.

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