The concept of freedom (of choice) seems to be championed in every aspect of our lives – except when it comes to romantic relationships. No, I’m not talking about arranged marriages; I’m referring to our fascination with acquiring and or finding soulmates aka ‘The One’. Soulmates, albeit a secular concept – thank you Plato’s Symposium – has gained astonishing popularity with Christians.
I just don’t think the concept of a soulmate is as romantic as it appears.
The idea that there is only one person out there, made specifically for you, to complete you seems noble enough to perpetuate. At face value, it can be a comforting notion. However, unpacking this concept unearths some villainous side effects – side effects we are all too ready to blissfully ignore. The notion that there is ONLY ONE person out there for you is ridiculous. A girl needs options! I need to have hope that should I fumble the bag now – I can still secure another one.
Note: I’m not trying to sell the idea of multiple soulmates – I’m trying to do away with the idea of soulmates altogether!
Personally, I find it is too weak and restrictive a concept to believe in. What if I never meet my soulmate? What if I’ve already met my soulmate and things didn’t work out? Does that mean that wasn’t my soulmate? How do I know I’ve met my soulmate? Plot twist! What if my soulmate settles for someone else? Worse, what if I settled then they came along? The concept of soulmates is confining – it says if I miss out on my one chance – I am eternally doomed to a life of mediocre love and happiness. Now, I’d either have to settle for any Basic Banjo* knowing it will never be the real deal or do life alone because it’s better to be alone than unhappy.
Relationships don’t complete us – they complement who we are
The concept of soulmates robs you of your ability to make a choice – it states, that there’s only one person out there for you – them and them only (no second chances). We can unintentionally have our partners competing with ideals of a soulmate we have concocted in our heads and worst of all – they sometimes lose.
I believe compatibility and intentionality play a large part in successful relationships – romantic and otherwise. I believe it is possible to be highly compatible with numerous people – then you purposefully choose (intentionality) who you want to commit to and then you continue to purposefully choose to nurture, grow and resolve issues with them (till you don’t). There is something powerful about making a choice. I’d rather someone want to be with me not because I’m their only choice (and chance at love) but because amongst all the other viable options they had, they chose – consciously and of their own volition – to be with me. I am the most desired.
There is a difference between being wanted and being needed. The concept that we need people to complete us is dangerous. Yes, as humans, we are designed for fellowship but that does not take away from the fact that we are whole in and of ourselves. Relationships don’t complete us – they complement who we are.
For instance, if I have a lamb burger, I can choose to add bacon to my burger to make it a lamb and bacon burger or I can choose avocado and make it a lamb and avocado burger or I can choose cheese, etc. Each of these extras creates a different yet equally enjoyable burger. It will be ludicrous to think the only extra a lamb burger can have is bacon and every other option is wrong. It will be equally ludicrous to think a lamb burger needs extra options to complete it. Lamb burgers work on their own – any extras added are for complementary purposes and the possibilities for extras are endless – each extra creating a different yet equally enjoyable experience!
There is something liberating about making a choice and recommitting to that choice every day. There is something exciting about being desired. Sherman Alexie puts it succinctly:
“He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.”
Closer to home, Christ chose the Church to be His bride. He didn’t feel obligated to – He wanted to. He desired to see us reconciled with the Father so he gave His life for us. He was not bound by fate – He made a choice.
*The term ‘Basic Banjo’ was solely for alliteration purposes. No Banjos were hurt in the writing of this article.