One of the pressures behind dating is the intense, unspoken goal of finding your soul mate. Society promotes the idea that life is a game of accumulating the greatest number of toys and finding ‘the one’ to share your life with. This pressure is reinforced in obvious and subtle ways, wherever one looks. While dating can be an exciting and intriguing time of learning about someone you are attracted to, there is also a constant assessment going on to decide if this dating partner is for life.
In previous generations, there has been a greater social pressure on maintaining a single relationship throughout adult life, and this was reinforced in popular religions. Today’s more secular lifestyle creates different pressures, and there is a greater acceptance that sometimes people change and a once strong relationship is coming to an end.
The latest data prepared by the US National Survey of Family Growth shows that about 1 in 5 marriages end in divorce after five years, while around 1 in 3 or 4 marriages have ended after 10 years. A marriage partner in one’s early adult years may be an important person to share and walk a life path with, but at some point, these roads may take different turns and the partners may need to go their separate ways.
The idea of soul mates once referred to a quasi-spiritual ideal in which a couple would find each other on earth and share their lives together. This included the idea of being reunited in some sort of after-life and being together for all of eternity. Another idea of soul mate suggests that two people can have a deep partnership of mutual respect. In this view of soulmates, there can be a lifelong support and loyalty to each other, and a sense of unconditional love. Some friends call each other soulmates because of this connection.
While soulmate is not a term used loosely, its modern interpretation suggests anyone can have more than one in a lifetime. This seems contradictory at first. A close friendship bond may cause those involved to refer to the relationship as having a soulmate quality. These close friends may also have a life partner that they consider a soulmate as well.
People can also have a strong sense of unconditional love and ‘soulmate-ship’ with subsequent life partners over the course of their lives. The soulmate partner in one’s twenties and thirties may be a crucial time together for building one’s adult life. One’s soulmate partner in later years may be a sharing of two matured people who met after each coming to their own sense of deep self-awareness.
The concept of soulmates is a reflection of society’s values and ideas around love. The idea of a lifelong love that moves into an eternal dimension is being replaced by a more practical definition to describe a sense of unconditional love for another.