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Single Living

I never believed in soul mates.

Not entirely.

From the day we met at the age of 15 until we broke up for the last time at 21, I was convinced that if there was such a thing, he was it.

After dealing with his cancer, homelessness, drug addiction, infidelity, college applications and truancy, in addition to all the usual angst of teenage life – and staying together –  I was sure I’d never meet another person who could be my soul mate. We only have one soul; we only get one soul mate.

I thought of myself as incredibly lucky. I never wanted to replace him.

I still don’t. Do we ever really replace our first true loves?

A year or two later I embarked on another long-term relationship. He thought we were soul mates. I was hard-pressed to disagree. We just seemed to fit together, so I thought, “This is it!” until it wasn’t, and it ended.

Years later, when I met the man I’d end up marrying, I thought, “Well, this is it, too.”

With each new relationship, there was a period of time that I wondered if I was finally meeting up with my soul’s destiny, the missing half Plato speaks of, the thing that keeps us all chasing after that elusive One.

 

A flawed system

The problem, however, is that this is no way to live. The constant search for our missing half  seems to be nothing more than constant disappointment, disillusionment and frustration.

Eventually I came to understand the notion of soul mates as adolescent fantasy: a narrow vision of the world wherein God is some mysterious matchmaker.

It still is a commonly-held belief. God has that one – and only one – person in mind for each us; all we have to do is find each other. That special someone who was made just for you is the reason you keep going on bad dates, keep second-guessing your choices, and keep yourself in a constant state of hopefulness.

It is a commonly-held belief, too, that each bad date is one date closer to The One; it’s just a matter of time.

In the meantime, the idea of The One demeans everyone else who steps into the picture. It’s the same reason why I dislike the term “best friend”: there can only be one best and every other friend can only be second-best. Why create hierarchies?

Another flaw in the concept of soul mates comes from the more devout among us. There is a very plausible idea that our souls, as part of us who were created in God’s image, are perfect and whole unto themselves. They do not need to be mated to any other person in order to feel complete.

 

A change of heart

Many people disagree with me.

But now, after having experienced what I did, I’m starting to disagree with myself.

In 2008 I met someone to whom I felt deeply connected and with whom I kept in touch intermittently since then. A few months ago he invited me to the Metropolitan Museum, where we’d first met three years before. Our meet-up was serene, comfortable; we each felt a sense of  calm and both noticed how much better we were doing.

We also noticed how that deep connection had not subsided; it was as if we’d picked up where we left off. Each of us went home and thought about the past three years, how we’d never forgotten the other, how much we had in common.

While I would still never tell anyone else to look for The One – I myself gave up on it – I just might believe in soul mates, or at least that I found mine.

The evidence is ineffable, which is exactly how my beloved thinks it should be. He feels the concept of soul mates does not include any of the ideas of conventional wisdom: compatibility, shared interests, attraction or intellect. Those things, popularized and commodified by matchmakers, have little to do with our divine selves.

I agree.

In shifting my beliefs, I find it necessary to re-define the concept of soul mate as I understand it. It is not The One, that missing half who could complete a person. It is not a person, custom-made and sent to us by God. It is not the stuff of endless romantic comedies, songs and fairy tales. In fact, it is no one thing at all. As my beau simply said, “There is no key.”

Today he texted me: “the prospect of seeing you gives another dimension to the day.” I know exactly what he means. I am – or rather, my soul is – truly touched by his companionship.

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16 Comments

  1. Patrick-606389 September 13, 2011

    Finally! Someone on staff actually said it. Good grief. The concept of soul mate is not rooted in Christian teaching, scripture or tradition. It is a philosophical principle out of the East.It is not even a reference for that describes only romantic relations. A soul mate may be a best friend and one’s best friend is not necessarily ones helpmate. It is not Godly in the Christian perspective. Well by golly gee gum, it’s about time someone else said it on staff.

    The idea removes the powerful hand of God and his grace —-

    While I could not discount that God may have a person in design —- given the goofiness of us, I don’t doubt he has several.

    By and large this eastern principle has been twisted so out of context that soon there is only house, one car, one meal, one friend, one one and only one possibility — for how one breaths.

  2. Patrick-606389 September 13, 2011

    Oyyyyy ve,

    that does not mean that a person cannot choose to focus their efforts to have a relationship with a singular person because there some unexplainable connection —– but because one has found one — does not negate that there might be others. A soul mate is the woman I marry and spend a lifetime to dying and for and she for me.

  3. Michael-422117 September 14, 2011

    I think instead of “soul mate”, a more accurate and theologically-sound label would be “particular vocation”, i.e. having a general vocation to the married life, and a particular vocation to one particular man or woman. Captures the essence of the idea of a “soul mate”, but in a way that is more Christ-centered, and less hormone-centered.

  4. Tammy-492301 September 14, 2011

    Well done Cate. You were able to articulate what I’ve been struggling with since I started dating following my divorce. The “conventional wisdom: compatibility, shared interests, attraction or intellect.” Many, if not most, of the married couples (married for decades) break a lot of these rules. I was speaking with a gent friend of mine regarding ‘what he wants’ very recently. He was pretty adamant they have a number of common interests — in which I replied — then go marry a dude. :/ I think I made my point. (: I’ve often thought the beauty of love is that you just can’t quite pinpoint ‘why’. Thanks for providing your insight.

  5. Vhie-763540 September 14, 2011

    There are several studies to prove that soulmates are real. There is a book I read on the subject by Jaime Licauco… He said that soulmate can be a friend or a partner, and if we get lucky by earning our good karma, he said that we might be able to meet our soulmate in our lifetime. It is an interesting reading. It was mentioned there too that the presence of out soulmate in our auric field brings a unique sensual experience. Foundation of such concepts started in the eastern philosophy, from reincarnated soul. True, that it is outside of the Christian teachings but for some like me, I do believe that I have a partner who is looking out for me too…have I met or crossed him already nor I still have to find him, I do believe too that my process of choosing is govern by balancing logical reasoning, emotion and right attitude.

    • Patrick-606389 September 15, 2011

      Studies that prove soul mates are real? So there is study that demonstrates that my soul is singularly connected to a specific set of people? Now that may be a study just begging the question. Just what are the conditions that demonstrate that there are only a set number of people and perhaps one and only one with who I am connected to through eternity — that we are uniquely made for each other and no other?

      For the believer the God that created us is creative. He is a dynamic God, and because his creation is often completely off the wall, hard of hearing, blind and even incredibly stupid at times God’s answer is: forgiveness, love, generosity, and in my experience a God with a great sense of humor. Hence people (men with women and women with men) who have nothing in common, from different sides of the tracks, despise each other when they first meet, weren’t even looking for each other or anyone — meet and love for a life time. It is the bending of each will to make room for the other. That soul mates are the beginning there are the middle and the end — a process of conforming one to the other. And it is the conforming that throws people in relationships — that is hard, hard work. Apparently there are a growing number of people who come to the conclusion that when the going gets tough —- its time to find my real soul mate —- and this concept of soul mates which has seeped into every facet of the culture — provides the legitimacy for divorce — this man must not be my soul mate —- then there will be —– well … Heaven on Earth.

      We (Westerners) have even distorted the Eastern (Hindi) understanding that one may go through many lifetimes before one finds there soul mate —- I see no evidence in scripture

      One of the most prevalent metaphors all throughout scripture is the relationship that God has with his people is a man to his bride. The importance of the brides purity — the Church — isn’t tough enough in todays’ maleable moral incongruity for us to remain pure — must we adopt practices which run counter to our marriage with Christ. And while I think the grace of God covers all manner of practice — even that there is only one person for me — and a person whom God in his infinite kindness is hiding from me — for whatever reason — the idea of a soul mate. God honors marriage – as it is his creation and his desire — no matter who that person may be.

  6. Jesse-563480 September 15, 2011

    I liked this article. I too am searching for someone. I am finding that it is very difficult to trust people who are searching for someone. If I am fortunate in finding that soecial person it will indeed be with the help of God.

  7. Eve-112836 September 16, 2011

    Everytime I began talking to a man I would wonder if he was the one I had prayed God would into my path. By the time I met my fiancé I had given up hope that I’d ever meet someone especially online. My point is, I was skeptical of love and of the notion that someone meant for me exsisted. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a soulmate but if there is then I can truthfully say that I’ve met mine. From the moment we met it felt like we had known eachother for years. It still amazes me when he says or does things that at one point or another in my life I said I wanted. When we’re apart all we can think about is the next time we will see eachother and when we are reunited we both feel at peace. I’ve often said that when we’re apart life is in standstill but when we are together it’s as if someone has turned off the pause button and hit play. The great part is that we aren’t the only ones that believe we were made for eachother. One day his mom and I were talking and she says to me how amazed she is at how similar we are and how well we compliment eachother. I truly believe God IS responsible for our relationship. What comes to mind is the book of Tobit in which saint Raphael tells tobiah that Sara was set aside for him from the foundation of the world. If we are called by God to the married life then if we let Him He’ll guide us to the person He has in mind for us but we have a free will and often times we’ll settle with people we know deep down aren’t what hoped for.

    • Jules-758617 September 18, 2011

      Hi, eve.
      I liked what you said. Thank you. i pray at night to Jesus that he will keep protecting the man he has set aside for me and that when we come together it will be in God’s own time not ours. i too love the book Tobit, because i can relate to Sarah being cursed, and then finally being set free. god hears prayers no matter what the prayer is for. The word soul mate is not what is important, its the concept behind it. Too many peolpe have not experienced the Love of Christ so we in our humanness make believe what love is, our imaginations get the better of us, peolpe make movies, make soap operas that get way out of control, and then send the wrong message. We find our wholeness in Jesus love, not another human being. When we come together with someone for marriage its for Gods purpose and give HIM the glory, to be a light and witness into the world that this is how god had intended man and woman to be. Ah yes patience is an virtue that the majority of us struggle to achieve, I included. but after so many mishaps, mistakes, i am now willing to wait and wait and watch and listen to Jesus, for he knows best all the time. The book of Tobit is my favourite love story in the bible along with Esther. Those stories were real, offering hope and comfort and most importantly Grace.

    • Barb Tess
      Barb Tess September 22, 2011

      What a wonderful response Eve! I feel exactly the same way about Mr. Right. From our first meeting, I knew he was the one that God had picked out just for me. And I’ve learned in the last month, not to question God’s will in that regard. Mr. Right is a piece of the puzzle I call my life and my life is very, very good with him in it!

      Blessings!
      Barb

  8. Mari-611004 September 16, 2011

    Hi Catherine, I believe in “Godcidental” soulmates:)

  9. David-664747 September 18, 2011

    my head is spinning after reading this post and the comments after it

  10. Stacey-101742 September 18, 2011

    Wow , this is a good article and I would have to agree that in our churches teaching , “soul mate ” ideals do not exist . I think when we say it that way that perhaps we take God out of the abilities of all His Grace “”BE”” the glue , be the Vocation , be the familiarities of “feeling like” you’ve known that person all your life . Perhaps instead of saying or seeking a soul mate , it should be said , souls touching in faith , the more commonalities in the foundations being faith , the more closer our souls can be and the more deeper they can rest in God and with one another . Like when going through pre-cannon , its said about the Triangle being God at the top and both spouses at the bottom on either side of it were both are always connected to God and then to one another , makes for God Grace to be stronger between the two A ( Bond ) …
    I love all the comments said . This was very interesting and I want to thank you for this article and for all those who gave good comments .

  11. Brian-611930 September 20, 2011

    For sure they are imagination. One can learn to love the other after x amount of hours together. Some will get along better with others but ultimately there is no such thing as a sould mate.

  12. Christine-757271 September 22, 2011

    I truly believe that soulmates are a reality. In order to be joined with your true soulmate you must first recognize the signs on how to attract that person into your life. The first step is you have to give up one thing in order for it to work. Secondly, this is my personal opinion but you must come from two different types of backgrounds. Thirdly, you usually both meet one another by unusual circumstances. At the beginning of the relationship their maybe difficult problems in getting together . However, this should be looked at as a positive and not a negative. Finally, you know it feels right because magical things for sure will happen. Be assured that if you call upon YOUR LOVE ANGELS, your soulmate is sure to find you. God bless everyone and believe that what you thought as never possible is possible.

  13. Derrick-769010 September 27, 2011

    Wow! its been a quiet a journey of life.But full of lessons. Soul mate thing can be a thing to recon with. God has His mighty ways of reviling things to us. God bless you.

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