Monday, September 9, 2013

How To Find Your Soul-Mate (hint: look in the bathroom)

One of the Articles of Faith that comes with the Religion of Falling in Love is the concept of the "Soul-Mate."

A Soul-Mate is someone whose soul is mated to yours in some mystical, magical way. If you find your Soul-Mate, it is thought, then you are bound to each other by the strands of the universe, and are destined to be together in an ever-expanding, completely inevitable sort of all-consuming love.

The downside, as with all such fantastical beliefs, is that it simply doesn't bear up under scrutiny. So believers in the Soul-Mate fiction are forced to go to ever-increasing lengths in order to maintain their illusions. Again, these aren't bad people... they're just people who (as people) need something transcendent in which to believe. They don't intend for their beliefs to leave behind a trail of human wreckage, it just turns out that way.

The road to hell, as they say, is simply paved with good intentions.

This plays out in a number of ways.

If you believe in the myth of a Soul-Mate, then a corollary to that belief is that if you're really and truly in love with a person who is really and truly your Soul-Mate, then infidelity just won't happen. Which means that the inverse must also be true.

Take, for example, that Classic of American cinema, SIX DAYS SEVEN NIGHTS. In it, a character named Robin crash-lands on an island with a gruff airplane pilot named Quinn. Sexual chemistry ensues between them -- as does sexual chemistry between Robin's fiancee, Frank, and Angelica, the dark-haired island woman who seduces him. At the end of the movie, Robin and Frank break up, reasoning that if they were both willing to go boinking around with other people during a separation of only six days and seven nights, well, they probably weren't "meant to be together." They weren't really, truly Soul-Mates.

Makes perfect sense, right? 

Well, sure, if Soul-Mates were a real thing. They're not. While it may be true that Robin and Frank weren't a great fit and probably shouldn't have been engaged to be married, infidelity doesn't come from poor matches, it comes from poor choices. Like, say, the choice to go into the room with the girl in the underwear while your fiancee is stranded on some island for a week. This poor choice no doubt came as the result of a long string of other poor choices on both their parts, but it seems to me that blaming it on a faulty soul-connection is just another example of that oh-so-popular human pastime we call "passing the buck."

If I had an affair, it isn't really my fault... the fault was in trying to make a relationship work with someone who wasn't my Real, True Soul-Mate. Right? Right? Riiiiiiight!?!

Again, I get it. I, too, want to believe in Soul-Mates. And when I screw up relationships by treating people as things, I too want to be able to blame it on some mystical, magical missed connection.

But this is just selfishness, draped with tinsel.

There are no Soul-Mates.

There are people you'll click well with and -- given a reasonable degree of fidelity and gratitude in the relationship -- with whom you will be able to forge something that lasts, and enriches your lives and the lives of those around you. But Soul-Mateism is Narcissism in disguise.

Wanna find your Soul-Mate...? 

Go look in the mirror.

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