On Soulmates, or What Do Plato, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Elite Daily Have in Common?

Note:  This post gets pretty quote-heavy, but bear with me!

The word “soulmate” is tossed around a lot.

It means different things for different people. Some think that there is one person out there in the world that they are destined to be with, and that is their soulmate. They will be the most perfectly compatible and complimentary couple in all ways.

I never quite subscribed to that philosophy. People are so unique, there are always going to be aspects that aren’t perfect.

And, after going through a divorce, perhaps I’ve become a bit jaded, in that nothing is as it seems.

If you’re a monogamist, I think you just have to do your best and pick the person who is the best option for what you desire most in a partner.

But recently, I’ve been introduced to a different concept, embarrassingly by one of those silly text images shared on Facebook that made a lot of sense.

“You’ll have more than one soulmate in life, for there are different ones for different things. There are musical taste soulmates, friend soulmates, let’s-get-coffee-together soulmates, etc. etc. The romantic soulmate is only one aspect of this notion.”

Of course. This made so much sense. Soulmates can be so much more than a romantic partner, and, chances are, you will never click with them in all aspects.

In a piece published on Elite Daily  a couple of years ago, Cashie Rohaly wrote,

“This is a chance to redefine soul mates. It is an opportunity to spark hope for those who believe they will never be able to find the one soul in a sea of 7 billion; to open our eyes and realize we are not limited to one soul mate.

A soul mate is any person who mirrors us in some way. That is why we are so drawn to these different people; they are separate entities, but something about them reminds us of ourselves.

Our soul mates have a different part of us instilled in them. We should not search for our “other half” because that sounds way too close to human cloning. But our other tenth? Twentieth? Hundredth? Those are much more settling ratios of how our souls are distributed among others.”

— Cashie Rohaly, “The Truth About Soulmates Is That You Can Have More Than One,” Elite Daily

Yes. My “other twentieth.” That seems more attainable.

With this new concept, I have begun to realize that I have “collected” soulmates across the years, perhaps even multiple people for the same purposes.

I have met intellectual soulmates.

I have met musical soulmates.

I have met artistic soulmates.

I have met cinema soulmates.

I have met religious philosophy soulmates.

I have met emotional soulmates.

I have met personality soulmates.

I have met humor soulmates.

I have met sexual soulmates.
And sometimes, several of these aspects can be found in a single person. And it doesn’t have to mean that I’m romantically compatible with them.

Later in the piece, Rohaly continues,

“Months, years, miles and oceans can put distance between you and your soul mate, but that distance is merely physical. The minute you are reunited, it will be like picking up where you last left off.

In the case of soul mates, absence does really make the heart grow fonder because, without them, a little part of us is missing. It does not matter they have been in our lives for 10 days or 10 years; the moment we discover a soul mate, it is like he or she has been a part of our lives since day one.

There are no secrets; there are no inhibitions; there are no facades. Soul mates are the people who have seen us at our best, but loved us most when we were at our worst.”

— Cashie Rohaly, “The Truth About Soulmates Is That You Can Have More Than One,” Elite Daily

This piece really spoke to my heart.

It explained why, after I have severed ties with some of my soulmates out of necessity, I’ve felt there will always be a little piece of me left with them, and them with me. I become scattered across the world.

And it brought up the strange phenomenon of feeling like you’ve known someone forever, even if you’ve just met. This occurrence is real and palpable.

But does it mean that both parties must feel the same about this “soulmate” status, or can it be one-sided. Could my intellectual soulmate not feel the same about me?

Who knows.

And really, it could be creepy to bring it up.

This concept is in direct contrast to Plato’s theory he discussed in Aristophanes’ speech in his Symposium. He describes a theory in which humans used to be physically attached as couples. There were same and opposite sex pairings, but, at some point, the gods split the humans into two and doomed us to be forever be searching for our other half.

This was depicted beautifully in the film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” in its song “The Origin of Love.”

“Last time I saw you

We had just split in two

You were looking at me

I was looking at you

You had a way so familiar

But I could not recognize

Cause you had blood on your face

I had blood in my eyes

But I could swear by your expression

That the pain down in your soul

Was the same as the one down in mine

That’s the pain

Cuts a straight line

Down through the heart

We called it love

So we wrapped our arms around each other

Trying to sew ourselves back together

We were making love

Making love”

–“The Origin of Love” from the musical film Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

I have been obsessed with this story for years, and it has been the ultimate romantic notion for me.

But, as I mentioned above, I’ve become jaded. I don’t know if I can believe that something like this could actually exist anymore.
Are we forever doomed to never find our perfect home in another partner?

The odds are not in our favor.
Rounding out the discussion are some thoughts by author Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame. (Full disclosure: I’ve never read any of her books, I just read this article published on Huffington Post.)

Her philosophy is somewhere in the middle:

In Eat, Pray, Love, she wrote,

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you will ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In this discussion, you only have one soulmate, who is usually different from your lifelong romantic partner. Someone who will irrevocably change your life.

She recalled when a friend told her,

“‘You think it’s all roses and happiness. A soul mate is somebody who changes you. And then, sometimes, they have to leave because the intensity of the relationship is so much that you can’t actually have [stability].’”

This hit home for me. Some of my soulmates are no longer in my life because it is best for our emotional health.
So…what do I believe?
I really don’t know, but I like to think about all three. The combination thereof is comforting. Obviously, the concept of soulmates are different to different people.

I believe I have met many soulmates in my life who bring fullness and complexity to different facets of it.

I believe I have met people who have ripped me apart, challenged and changed me for the better.

And maybe I would still like to believe that there’s my other half out there somewhere, who I last saw before remembrance began.


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