Finding Your Soulmate: A Highly Overrated Concept
Author: Bronwen Forbes
I don’t talk about it much in Pagan or non-Pagan public, but I do have a soulmate. We know we’ve shared several lifetimes in which we were, respectively, husband and wife, brother and sister, and governess and charge, just to name a few. My soulmate has been part of my life (this life) for nearly three decades, is always there when I need him, and I cannot imagine my life without him.
My husband is a good man; I love him dearly. He is more than I could ask for in his roles as supportive husband, great father to our daughter, and my ritual working partner. Without getting nearly as mushy and over-the-top as I could when describing my relationship with him, suffice to say that I am genuinely and truly blessed to have him in my life.
Would it surprise you to know that my husband and my soulmate are not the same person? And that my soulmate is, in fact, also married? And that I’m perfectly okay with that?
We’re taught – and not just in the Pagan community – that finding and settling down happily ever after with our soulmate is the only way we can truly be happy. For those of you who are making yourselves utterly miserable because you can’t find your soulmate, let me be the one to reassure you that not only does this almost never happen, but that you can be perfectly happy in a lifelong relationship with someone who isn’t your soulmate. Even Richard Bach, author of the ultimate soulmate quest tome The Bridge Across Forever, eventually divorced the woman he swore in the book was the other half of his soul.
Clearly, this soulmate thingy is completely overrated.
Where did this whole idea of a soulmate come from, anyway? Ancient Greece by way of Plato, actually, when Plato wrote down some things the playwright Aristophanes allegedly said one night at a dinner party. According to Aristophanes, humans at one time had two heads, four legs and four arms – each. In other words, humans were two people joined together in one perfect (if slightly impractical) whole. However, being human (i.e. not always bright about what the best course of action is when dealing with Deity) , we became proud and comfortable in our wholeness and decided the Gods did not need us to worship them any more. Zeus, true to his nature, was not happy with this state of affairs and as punishment divided all of us happy and complete two-headed, four-armed and four-legged humans in two. We’ve all been looking for our missing halves ever since.
So what happens when you do find your missing half? Well, if you’re lucky, you are compatible in all ways and can, metaphorically speaking, reforge yourselves into a whole person for the rest of your lives. If you’re not so lucky –or if you’re mature enough to be realistic about your and your soulmate’s incompatibility – you find a way to function with your other half in your life somewhere and enter a bonded relationship with someone else.
My soulmate is a gay man; I am a bisexual woman. Therefore there are some obvious basic incompatibilities should we ever have even discussed marriage – we didn’t, although at one point before my own marriage I did offer to marry his Canadian citizen husband of thirteen years (as of this writing) if needed to keep the husband in the States (he got a green card instead, but the offer was seriously considered.) . I did share a house with my soulmate and his husband for about three and a half years, during which we found even more incompatibilities for a long-term relationship besides sexual mismatch-ness.
I am an animal lover to the point that I *must* have at least one pet to be happy – to be *me*; he has asthma on top of pet fur allergies. I am monogamous; I’m not sure my soulmate knows exactly what that word means. We’re both housekeeping-challenged, which means the house (before his husband moved in and wisely hired a cleaning service) was always a royal mess. I am very obviously and actively Pagan; my soulmate is sort of Pagan but not very active or devout in any way I know of. He loves living and working in the big East Coast city he was born near; I’m a small-town Midwesterner by birth and have happily chosen to live my adult life – you guessed it – in a small town in the Midwest.
With my spouse, I can have the monogamous, pet-filled, child-enhanced, mostly tidy, Pagan-active Midwestern life I need in order to be myself. I love it, and I love him for making it possible for me to have it. If my soulmate is akin to a fine steak dinner, life with my husband could be compared to an old-fashioned barbecue: Different, yes, but equally satisfying and in no way “less than” the steak.
And yet, we continue to waste time, energy, ritual space, spell ingredients and pleas to the Gods all in an attempt to find that elusive soulmate. I know; I did it for far too long, all the while not noticing what a great match my husband (then just a really good friend) and I could be, and not realizing that I also had a soulmate who was not in any way good husband material for me.
If you’ve done everything, magickally speaking, to find your soulmate and you haven’t, maybe there’s a message there for you: either you don’t have one, the Gods have decided you’re not compatible (maybe he’s a convicted bank robber) , or you’re just not ready for your soulmate to come into your life.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit, even in Pagan company, that I have a soulmate. It just sounds too fluffy and/or too ‘New Agey’ for me. I tend to refer to him as my brother (which really confuses the heck out of people when they later find out that I am, biologically-speaking, an only child) , and his husbands (they added a third to their relationship not too long ago) as my brothers-in-law. My husband considers them his brothers-in-law as well.
My daughter knows about her uncles. There is a picture of the three of them together in our family portrait collection that hangs on the dining room wall, which we call our Hall of the Ancestors. They are, after all, family.
You don’t need a soulmate. There. I said it. You don’t *need* one in order to be in a fulfilling long-term relationship. I’m glad I have mine – he is an invaluable source of support and we share a history that even my husband wasn’t there for (because I hadn’t met him yet) . So put down the steak knife. Sometimes down-home barbecue is what you need to be happy, if you just give it a chance.