Soulmates: real or wishful thinking?

Monica Dang, Staff Writer

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, couples are scrambling around in panic searching for the perfect gift to give to their significant others and singles are once again reminded that they are just that—single.

But many teenagers or young adults console themselves with the idea that they have not met “the one” yet, and that their “soulmate” exists somewhere in the world among its seven billion inhabitants.

Every aspect of pop culture bombards teens and young adults with the concept of a soulmate.  Movies and novels almost always depict a young, attractive couple who meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after, and not surprisingly, teenagers believe that soul mates do, in actuality, exist.

“Yes I do [believe in soulmates], because in pop culture, they show a lot of couples that were meant to be,” junior Taylor Olivas said.

Dictionary.com, defines the term soul mate as “a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond.”  Most students however, offer a more fresh, adolescent-like interpretation.

“A soulmate is someone that you were made for,” junior Jessi Loza said. “Yes, I do think soulmates exist because you need someone in your life who helps you develop and grow into a better person.”

“A soulmate is someone who you can be yourself around and who can make you happy every day,” junior Paolo Catapang said.

These definitions of soulmates depict ideal relationships involving soulmates, but psychiatrists and psychologists who study relationships have  widely disagreed with the idea of soulmates.

“Nothing has produced more unhappiness than the concept of the soulmate,” Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman said in an article entitled “Great Expectation” in the  March 2004 issue of “Psychology Today.”  Pittman said the error lies in believing the myth of “the right person.”

According to Jeremy Nicholson, a doctor of social and personality psychology, the notion of having a soulmate leads mainly younger (and more inexperienced) people to focus more on seeking relationships of initial compatibility with people who “click” with them.  This focus becomes problematic, however, when inevitable problems arise and disillusioned soulmate seekers interpret these problems as a sign that the relationship is not meant to be.  Instead of working to solve problems in the relationships, people abandon them and do not learn how to deal with issues that recur over a long and healthy relationship.

Other psychologists and psychiatrists do not entirely omit the possibility of having soulmates.

“I suspect that happily married couples eventually pass a threshold into this last, most rewarding stage of marriage,” licensed psychologist and relationship and lifestyle researcher Shauna Springer said in her “Psychology Today” article entitled “Soul Mates Do Exist—Just Not In the Way We Usually Think.”

In this definition of a soul mate, soulmates are not predestined for each other, contrary to popular belief.  In this concept, married couples get to an emotionally secure stage in which they become each other’s soulmate.  Some students agree with this notion.

“Obviously you’ll find someone to marry, but they might not necessarily be your soulmate, but they can develop into yours with time,” senior Josh Madrigal said.

Other students say there is a clear distinction between a soul mate and a true love.

“A soulmate is just like you and is meant to show you or teach you some aspect about yourself,” sophomore Katelyn Biddle said. “While a true love is someone who you are meant to be together with forever.”

In the long run, psychiatrists agree that those looking for a long lasting and healthy relationship should focus on overlooking minor flaws and working together with their significant others to solve conflicts.  With that outlook the couple will grow and improve together instead of looking for an unrealistic “already-perfect” soulmate portrayed in contemporary movies and novels.