When I was in my early 20s, I had this weird obsession with wedding teaser videos. You know the ones—a couple’s videographer splices together a kind of wedding sizzle reel that goes from both couples getting dressed, through the ceremony, and right up until the end of the reception. There’s sappy music. There are slow motion shots. There are Pinterest details aplenty.
I used to eat these things up when I was younger, because I was charmed by the romance of it all. I also really enjoyed giving my two cents about the details of the wedding that I liked and disliked. “Ugh, do they seriously have Edison bulbs strung up in the trees?” I’d snark to my empty apartment from the couch in my underwear eating ice cream. Ever been sassy on your own? It’s a treat, let me tell you.
After a while, though, I started to sour on these videos. Not because of the cheesy details, but because of the vows. I started noticing a similar pattern to them, and it started to get me seriously worked up. Without fail, one or both of the parties getting married would utter some form of the phrase “soulmate” during their vows. The bride knew the minute she saw him. The groom felt they were twin spirits. Of all of the people in the world, these two people found each other—and they were absolutely perfect for each other. Romantic, right?
Not for me. The idea of soulmates is the stuff of nightmares for yours truly. And I truly believe that we all need to shut up and banish the idea of soulmates from our cultural consciousness.
The concept of the soulmate is a simple one. It’s the idea proliferated by literature, poetry, and shitty romantic comedies that tells us that there is one special person out there who will complete us. They’re the person who will answer every question we’ve ever asked, who will right every wrong, and who will provide us with a love so pure that we’ll never find it with anyone else.
I’m more of the opinion that we have multiple soulmates in our lives—some are romantic partners, but others are friends and family members.
I call bullshit. First of all, if there is one person out there for us, then the odds are not in our favor for finding them. There are roughly 7.5 billion people on the planet—and you’re telling me that the one person you were meant to be with forever just so happened to sit next to you in your college semiotics class? Get out of here. You can believe in fate all you want, but that’s just ridiculous. Statistically, you have a better chance of falling off the roof deck of a cruise ship then finding your soulmate. (I checked—the odds of falling off a cruise ship are 1 in 6.25 million. Look it up!)
But aside from that, the idea of soulmates is incredibly stressful. It sets us up for this damn-near impossible task of finding a human needle in a haystack. What if I meet someone who I really like, but I can’t stand the fact that they never empty the dishwasher? Does that mean that they aren’t my soulmate? If people get divorced, does that mean that they didn’t find the soulmate? There are way too many variables that make the idea of a soulmate way too anxiety-inducing. I have a hard enough time picking out a loaf of bread at the bakery. You’re trying to tell me I’m going to be able to pick out the one person on the planet with whom I share a soul?
I’m more of the opinion that we have multiple soulmates in our lives—people who teach us things about ourselves and who encourage us to be better. Some are romantic partners, but others are friends and family members. Some can be mentors. A person can be a soulmate for a time, and then that distinction can change.
I’d rather have a partner than a soulmate—a person with whom I choose to be with because we made the decision to link our lives together. Not someone who I felt the universe had preordained me to be with. A partner grows with you, and changes with you, and coaxes you out of your comfort zone. That title can apply to many people in your life, and I think that’s okay. It may not be the thing of wedding vows, but it’s definitely more realistic. And that, to me, is what’s actually important.