Yes there are “soul mates” two people who are so much more together than they are seperately that their union is a transformative experience for both.
I don’t see that this means in any sense that there is only one soul mate for each individual. I would even go so far to say that the transformation would be quite different for each “soul mate” that is your match. So even if you are living a wonderful life with the “soul mate” you found you could be just as happy elsewhere with another person in completely different circumstances who is also a soul mate.
There seem to those who are assuming as part of the question, “Is there only one true love for me out there somewhere?” The answer is no. But there are still “soul mates” as the OP suggests. The two are not synonimous.
My wife and I refer to our relationship by saying we are “bonded”. This is sort of a shorthand of our own meaning that we are together not so much out of choice but out of need.
As to the question: And what are they really?
The best way I can describe it is by saying that your “soul mate” is someone who completes you. The OP asked about growth and I would say yes but maybe not how you mean. The bond in question gives you a very stable base for any personal growth. When you are in this kind of relationship all mental, emotional, spiritual challenges look smaller and less scary. Regardless of what life throws at you you have a rock to cling to. Something that you are so sure of that it ceases to be even a consideration.
I feel I need to share the down side of the whole “soul mate” thing as well. “Finding a soul mate” is not for everybody. If you enjoy your freedom, if you want to always have leaving as an option, if you don’t care for almost phisical discomfort if seperated from your partner for more than a few days then don’t wish for your “soul mate”. The idea of being able to pack up and leave just isn’t there. You WILL make the relationship work. You WILL weather all of the ups and downs. It isn’t that the alternative is too terrible to consider. It is that the alternative never enters your mind.
Also beware this type of bond if you feel the need to lash out at people in order for them to understand the depth of your feelings. When you hurt your “soul mate” YOU feel the pain.
You also need to be aware of the feedback loop. If one of you are feeling in a funk it is very hard for the other to avoid getting in a funk as well. At times this is a vicious circle. One feels bad making the other feel bad just as the first starts to feel better. The first now becomes aware of the second ones funk and starts feeling bad again just as the second starts to feel better. And around and around it goes.
Well that’s it for a first take. Some of what I have said will probably be interpreted differently that I intended it. Please ask for clarification on any point you find unclear.
And ask any other questions about my relationship that you would like. I’ll do my best to answer.
Degrance, did you find that you had to prepare in any way to make meeting a “soulmate” possible?
In my own life, I’m not particularly successful (romantically or professionally) compared to the possibilities of my situation, and this indicates to me that I’m not doing things right. I’m ruled by fear and hesitation, basically.
I’ve a gut feeling that I should “become myself” more, that I should stop trying to “fit in”, to follow others’ expectations and routines. Only after I show my real face to the world, and use my real talents (whatever they may be), will I find my true place in the world and attract a real “soulmate”.
I like Degrance’s definition. Under those terms, a “soul mate” makes sense. I know, because I have mine.
I’m still going to repeat my caution against the conventional definition of a soul mate, though, for the reasons stated above. Are they rare? Yes. Are they to be sought out and treasured? Yes. Can they arrive when you least expect? Yes. But one and only one person, someone who is perfect in every respect, with whom one will never disagree, and who will be the other half of a blissfully effortless relationship for ever and all time? Nope, doesn’t exist outside myth and romantic fantasy. A real relationship requires work and honest commitment, “soul mate” or not.
I was an uber-geek all through school. I know now that this was primarily because of an undiagnosed phychological condition. But as a result for the first 17 years of my life I was on the outside looking in. In my senior year of highschool I had a revelation. The only standards that would matter to me from that point forward were my own.
I just realized that this is sort of a strange way to go about answering your question but bear with me.
For the next 10 - 12 years I set about defining who I was and what my morality would be based on, etc. I explored the depths of my psyche, found some pretty disturbing stuff there and came to terms with it all. As a result by the time I reached my 30th year I knew pretty well who I was and what was of importance to me. I also had two college degrees and was marginally employed.
When I turned 30 I had never been in a relationship. The disorder I suffer from makes it very hard for me to interpret nonverbal interpersonal communication. Looking back now I think there were some women who might have been interested but I still am by no means sure of that. Anyway at 30 I had no experience with dating or any kind of physical expression of affection.
In answer to your question (finally) I think both of these things did indeed prepare me for finding my “soul mate”.
First of all I am a firm believer that you can’t give yourself to another before you know who you are. I think a lot of marriages end because one or the other of the parties only discover their true selves after they wed. I was able to truly commit myself to a relationship because I had plumbed the depths and knew exactly what I was sharing.
I was also made ready to meet my “soul mate” by the need to be understood that was the result of my social incapacity. Many men and women to I guess are not anxious to share their thoughts and feeling with even those they are closest to. I think because they see this as being vulnerable. Anything they share has the potential to be used as a weapon against them. At that point in my life I had very little to risk with being honest and everything to gain. And I guess that is true still. If being honest means losing something than I will lose it.
So if you are looking for an instruction manual. The steps are:
As for actually meeting your soul mate. I met mine when I answered an add in a local gaming store for roleplayers. The add was placed by her fiancé.
Well, as has been noted by several posters, we have the typical philosophical problem of definition. What the heck do we mean when we say “soulmate”? I personally have met and had relationships with three people whom I would consider soul mates, and I’ve just met a fourth who so far goes along with my definition, but I’m at too early a stage to make an objective judgment. (And then there are platonic same-sex relationships, which I’m not counting for the moment, though there really isn’t any reason I shouldn’t.)
For me, a soulmate is someone with whom you feel an unexplainable connection with, often from first account. Somebody who reinforces the strengths of your character, someone who impels you to reach your full potential. Someone who complements your weaknesses. Somebody who shares similar interests and life philosophies, yet is different enough to challenge you and help you grow and understand yourself and existence. And, since in my philosophy this not an egocentric concept, you provide the other person with the same things.
(Whoa…bizarre…“All I really want” is playing on my Yahoo! LauchCast and the “What I wouldn’t give to meet a soulmate” lyric just passed between my ears. Fate? )
So under my idea of a soulmate (and this idea may not work for others) then certainly soulmates exist, emphasis on the plural. Or maybe I’m just lucky or plain delusional. All valid possibilities.
These people that I have met, whom I consider soulmates, all fall under the category of “love at first sight.” The remarkable thing is when you discover the initial gut feeling to be true, and one remarkable coincidence follows another and you feel like you’re different parts of the same person. But how much of this feeling is self-fulfilling prophecy? How much is selective memory? How much is reinterpreting past events to suit the present “truth?” Therefore, I am very cautious about using a word such as “fate.”
Under the common idea of a soulmate, I think one gets around the problem of “What if I live in Chicago, and my soulmate is peddling spices in Samarkand?” with fate. Fate is supposed to lead the two together, therefore, this is a non-issue.
i like to believe that there are circles of soul mates who run into each other or connect more deeply, etc., in different lifetimes. i have never had a large social circle, but the people with whom i’ve maintained contact over the years, now spread all over the U.S., have certain key elements and life experiences in common, even patterns of pain and success. each of us has a circle, and the circles all overlap here and there.
there are at least 5 people i feel i’ve “always” known, including my husband, who is not my first love by any means, and who often drives me mad. we all feel this way about each other even though we don’t all express it the same way. but at varying times and in varying ways we have been keys and catalysts for each other. we will not be exactly who we now appear to be in the next lifetime, but will recognize or be drawn to each other nevertheless, when time and place warrant it. i believe i will probably meet 2 or 3 more people in this lifetime who feel this way to me, as well as others i might sense some past connection to, though not in the “soulmate” kind of way.
i’ve had dreams about people years before i met them. i’ve met people and felt as though we have known each other for ever. and this isn’t an unusual way of looking at things, though i developed the idea pretty much on my own. millions of others believe it as well, for various reasons.
that doesn’t mean it’s the absolute truth, of course, when you consider all the dim-witted things millions of people believe about all sorts of concerns. but it means there are books written on the subject, and some of them are probably decent. and what is truth, anyway? we don’t all define that the same way, though many of us say we must.
i said i like to believe this, and it feels both logical and just plain “right” to me. but it took some evolution of thought and experience to get here.
Like others have said, if there are either none soulmates or more than one for each person. Believing in one single soulmate for each person is limiting oneself, and I find it an insult to previous relationships. My grandparent married my (biological) grandmother when he was young. I’m sure they loved each other very much, and she died when she was 42. They say that when it happened, my grandparent suddenly aged. Years later he remarried to my (step) grandmother. They have been together for 37 years, I’m sure they both love each other a lot.
Under the one person/one soulmate theory, one of my grandmothers is not the soulmate of my grandfather. I refuse to believe this, since it will be an insult to both of my grandmothers. I prefer to believe soulmates don’t exist, or if they do, each person has more than one.