"It’s my belief that we earn those rights – good son or good dad. No one is entitled to a relationship."
--Alan Bishop, from his response to a comment about his essay, "My Dad and the Question 'Why' "
"The best life partner might, I think, be the one who sees you as you are and loves that person--the person who is boring and anxious or blotchy from a weekly scrub mask--not the imaginary one who is poetic and broodingly smart and sexy and ecstatic all the time. The best life partner is exactly the sort of person who doesn't crave possession."
--Catherine Newman, "I Do. Not." from The Bitch in the House
“We seek desperately for love, but it is that same desperation that leads us to destroy it once it gets here. Thinking that one special person is going to save us temps us to load an awful lot of emotional pressure on whoever comes along that we think might fit the bill.” – Marianne Williamson from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
Like many people, I bought into the myth that there is one special someone for every person on the planet. But the older I get, the more I am aware that the “soul mate myth” is both irresponsible and dangerous. When I was a mental health counselor some years ago, I worked with several women who had been physically and emotionally abused by their husbands or boyfriends. While none of the women ever described their significant others as their soul mate, every reason they gave for not leaving the relationship glowed with the undertones of the soul mate myth.
Just consider this: We encounter an unknown number of people during the course of the day, week, month; our lifetimes. Some of those people have no effect on us; but with others we experience a connection. Sometimes the connection is slight, but other times the connection is dynamic. And whether or not we go on to have a relationship with a person we become connected to, we rarely forget that interaction. My point is that there are so many people in this world to connect with on so many levels that we actually limit ourselves by waiting around for a soul mate to come along. And as Marianne Williamson states in the opening quote, the desperation associated with the soul mate myth often leads us to destroy our relationships because it comes with heavy expectations of perfection from the chosen mate.
The Lesson: There is not a single person outside of yourself who can make you complete. You came here that way. Be open to multiple connections.
Melissa Brown Levine is a copy editor, proofreader, manuscript consultant, and writer.