Part One: Soulmates
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you something completely different: a math lesson.
If you are one who is so inclined to believe in the idea of a ‘soulmate’ – someone so perfectly aligned and in tune with you on a physical, mental, and spiritual level that they are the one and only person you were ever truly meant to be with, you would also have to then believe that your ‘soulmate’ is out there somewhere looking for you as well. We will set aside for a second how we might ‘find’ our soulmate or how we ‘qualify’ if someone is our soulmate and simply discuss first off how, or when, or where, we might at the very least be given the opportunity to run into this ultimate love.
The thing about soulmates is we have no choice or say in who they are. Like the proverbial room of an infinite amount of monkeys typing on an infinite amount of typewriters on an infinite amount of papers, there is simply the inevitable result that somewhere buried in the reams and reams of paper are the words of Shakespeare. So too is our soul mate a natural cosmological phenomenon of all the right variables finally coming together.
Which is frightening.
Because we don’t have an infinite amount of time to wait, search, and finally meet, every single person. And that’s not just every single person alive right now. That’s every single person who has lived, is living, and will ever live, ever. Again a soulmate isn’t a choice, it’s an undeniable inalienable connection. We’ll assume though that our soulmate is at the very least, of the same strain of human as us. Though we are a relatively new addition to the Earth there have still been hundreds of billions of humans in the time before us. There are seven billion alive with us right now, and barring an unforeseen disaster akin to the dinosaurs, this is still nothing compared to the amount of humans who have yet to be born. On the very simple basis of numbers alone, we would be better off abandoning the notion of soulmates right now.
But, I recognize that this is a very exaggerated, simplistic, and reductive approach to the topic. So we can apply some actual filters (within reason). Let’s be generous and first assume that part of being ‘perfect’ for you means that they live in the perfect ‘timeframe’ for you as well. We will assume that your ideal soulmate, your complement, your better half, is out there and is really actually within a very reasonable age range. Personally I have always had a rule of over or under five. My father was eight years older than my mother. My grandmother was twelve years older than my grandfather. Obviously there needs to be a reasonable leeway in the age department, but we have at least constrained the search to humans alive right now. The bad news? If you are, or are looking for, someone under thirty, that still leaves more than half of the world’s current population. So the one in a million soulmate we are all looking for is, more reasonably speaking, a one in a three and a half billion. And as you were reading this sentence, that number went up.
At this point most would argue though that we can further restrict the search for a soulmate based on other factors. For example, based on sexual identity, we might be able to knock out approximately half of the people in that number. There would be arguments based on language or religion or culture. Maybe family background or political views. But in the truest form of the word, our soulmate is not someone we make or choose or define. Our soulmate is part of who we are and while these criteria may help us find our soulmate, they do not determine who our soulmate is. There is only one truth about what we can say we know for sure about our soulmate. It is that they are the ‘perfect’ one for us. Everything else is self-imposed and takes away from the true and natural definition of a ‘soulmate’.
Realizing that we must put all preferences and/or pre-existing biases aside and that our one true orientation, our one true preference, is simply our ‘one love’, that still leaves the daunting task of sifting through three and a half billion people. The next obstacle would be one of exposure and encounter. The truth of the matter is if we are to be industrious and committed enough to finding our soulmate, we would need to devote a lot of time being in just the right place to meet as many people as possible. Obviously this would mean that those in cities and densely populated areas would have a higher chance of meeting their love than people in more isolated and rural areas. And certainly it is true that there are often more singles in the city and people do tend to flock there and spend more time there searching for partners, but it is certainly not the only reason why they are more populated. And even then, there is no guarantee that your soulmate lives in the same city or even the same state. Love knows no border, age, creed, or time. This is why things like speed dating and online dating are so popular among adults seriously looking for love nowadays. The miracle of modern technology has allowed us to reach beyond our physical borders and connect with people all across the world. Now the rural romantic has the same chances for success as the metropolitan paramour. We are literally spoiled for choice. Back when I was a rabid consumer of online dating I would be on Tinder for hours a day swiping left and right desperately, pleadingly, hopefully searching for my one true love. In just an hour I could view anywhere from thirty to maybe a hundred profiles and still have plenty more to spare, especially based on how far I was willing to look. Assuming a hundred profiles an hour, dedicating an unrealistic twenty-four hours a day just to the search for love, it would still take more than three thousand years to view every profile, and that would still only be of the people alive right at this very moment.
Of course this statistic is practically inapplicable in the real world. While we all dream and hope of this powerful and all-encompassing love, we also must hold jobs, contribute to society, eat, sleep, and socialize with others who are not our soulmates. No one, dedicated romantic though they may be, could ever hope to fully and thoroughly go through each and every potential match. I think our fingers would fall off or at the very least, carpal tunnel syndrome would most certainly set in.
Let’s instead for a moment consider just how many people we might realistically and feasibly meet and date. Conservatively, the average age of someone beginning to consider ‘serious’ relationships globally is approximately fifteen. Assuming that the person never gave up on love, the average current lifespan is seventy-one. This gives us fifty-six years of prime dating time. If the ultimate goal, expression, of love and soulmates is marriage, the average shelf life of a relationship before it either ends in marriage or not is around twenty-nine months. That means up until the bitter end, we would realistically have around twenty-three chances at true love. That’s a twenty-three out of three and a half billion odd. Again, this is provided that each person matched is immediately appealing and compelling enough to attempt a serious relationship with. This excludes those looking for flings or who tend to make very snap decisions (a la Tinder). The healthy gestation period of a relationship, I should say, is twenty-nine months.
Facing the mathematical odds hasn’t deterred generations of bleeding-heart romantics from continuing to hold out for their one true love, though. In fact, 73% of Americans alone choose to believe in soulmates. Of that 73%, the surprising majority are men and overall, younger people tend to be more idealistic and choose to believe in soulmates versus older. But it isn’t enough to believe in it. If one who believes happens to find themselves in a situation to consider if maybe this person is ‘the one’, there has to be some ways of recognizing a soulmate.
Most people would argue that it’s just a ‘gut feeling’. ‘When you know, you know’, you know? There’s no accounting for soulmates or when you find them and when you know. It’s a gut reaction, a feeling deep down, a voice in the back of your head.
Other times it’s that thrill and comfort and ease of communication. Being with your soulmate goes beyond just words. Non-verbal communication, being able to read each other’s moods based on how they look or feel or just reading that vibe, is often something those who would believe in soulmates would highlight about being that person. And when words do need to be spoken, often because we are so comfortable and so at ease and secure with our partner, the communication is open and freely flowing. ‘I could speak to my soulmate for hours and hours and never run out of things to say’. Awww. And disagreements? A thing of the soulmate-less past! The two of you will be so in synch, so attuned, and so alike, that major disagreements would pretty much be nonexistent and petty agreements, though they may come up, would be resolved easily, quickly, and with mutual respect and love. But all the major points, never an issue.
Soulmates can feel it when they touch. The physical attraction of soulmates is palpable and extends beyond just the sexual. Yes there is that intensity of attraction and desire but even just the feeling of her hand in yours, or the warm enveloping feeling of being pressed into his arms, can send the heart beating into a frenzy.
What many people search for when they believe they’ve found their soulmate is the feeling that the other person knows us at our deepest, most personal, most intimate level. We trust that our soulmate can not only read our moods and our hopes and fears, but help to elevate us when we are down or assuage our stresses. We all want to not only be seen and heard but also understood. And who better, or who else, than our soulmate.
Uniqueness. I think the uniqueness of the soulmate bond is interesting in and of itself. I will claim that, in this respect and indeed in all respects of all things ever, there is nothing new under the sun. At this point I believe we can safely assume that what one person has experienced today, others have experienced before, and others will experience in the future. And I know that sounds bleak and as a romantic myself, I know there are those who would think this takes away from the value and commodity of love. But in all reality, it doesn’t. We would like to believe that the connection and love and emotion that we share with our soulmate, that bond, is not only unbreakable but also utterly unique. That no one could ever understand how these two people feel. But why is that necessarily so important? If someone has felt the same way before, if we could find two people who have shared the same intense feelings of love, would that take away from the value of our own? And isn’t there much more value in having those who have walked the same path and could share insights and advice. There was a time when I felt that the love I had with Beautiful was unique and intense and never before felt, and the anguish and despair after was like a battle scar, a badge I proudly wore while I clung to this fantasy that no one would ever understand, so I never shared or sought advice or learned how to process it. I believe the desire for a ‘unique and inimitable love’ is unrealistic, impractical, self-centered, and selfish. Love is a universal emotion, and the search for a soulmate is a universal quest.
Faced with these two realities: the overwhelming odds of ever finding someone and the fantastical promises of what a soulmate can provide, it is no wonder that for most people, the decision of how to deal with the notion of soulmates is so polarizing. There are those who will outright deny the existence of soulmates and assign them to just the whimsy and fantasy of the young and the innocent and the naïve and then there are those who believe that soulmates promise a more beautiful, more warm and loving environment where anything is possible and optimism has its only chance to survive.
Both beliefs could drastically inform and shape not only the creation and formation of relationships but also their intensity and duration. It is hard to imagine a world where everyone could ever finally agree on one or the other, and while there are plenty of writings on the folly of soulmates and the error of believing in ‘the one’, I believe that, like in all things, moderation is key. There is perhaps a benefit in believing in the promise and potential of soulmates. This would manifest itself most readily and easily in the beginning stages of a relationship, where it could spur on the impetus to pursue someone and the passion to learn and explore and excite. The more grounded, though no less necessary, approach that love and relationships and indeed the object of our affections are all products of growth and maintenance is the fertile soil in which we can plant the seed of love and see it most likely bear fruit.
Word count so far: 6704