The “soul mate” ideal harks back centuries. Anyone who has been deeply in love understands that feeling of inevitability that comes with an intense joining. There are two concepts that address this idealized form of love—soul mate and twin flame.
Even if you have never seen the movie, Jerry Maguire, you are probably familiar with Tom Cruise’s famous “you complete me” speech. (Watch the famous scene on Youtube). It has become somewhat iconic and certainly representative of the concept of soul mate. A soul mate is supposed to make you feel whole and intact, like a jigsaw puzzle in which the last piece has been snapped into place. The idea is that a soul mate can enrich you on a soul level in a way that other partners won’t. It is quite idealized and perhaps unreasonable for us to expect as inevitable.
The “twin flame” concept is even more rarified than the soul mate. The mythology of the twin flame is that humans were created from a single source that was split into smaller units. On earth, the twin flames experience duality until they unite to form one again on the physical plane. Some believe that they reincarnate over lifetimes with a longing for each other that spans eons. Twin flames, according to the legends, unite over and over again, lifetime after lifetime.
The Greek philosopher Plato portrayed a story about twin flames. According to a myth he wrote about, the original human – the “androgyne” –had four arms and four legs, with a single head and two faces. Zeus, wanting more humans available to pay homage to the gods, split these humans in half. The split-apart beings lived in misery, searching for their other half in order to rejoin into a whole.
This concept can be found in Judeo-Christian belief systems as well. The Jewish concept of “bashert,” or destiny, holds that God intervenes to match people with their divinely destined mates. The idea originates in the creation story in which God originally forged a single human (Adam) who intrinsically embodied both male and female until Eve was created as a separate human from his rib.
Neither twin flames nor soul mates are guaranteed a smooth ride. Karmic theorists claim that often these joinings are intended for spiritual growth and self-reflection and don’t necessarily last. If you have had a “crazy love” that filled you with delight and joy until it ended in shattering sorrow… you understand that not all love matches (soul mate or otherwise) are “built to last.”
If our only hope for fulfillment in love is that we find the one person in seven billion who will understand, accept and love us… we may be in trouble. Fortunately, the idea that there is “one true partner” for every individual on earth is disproven every day as people find each other, fall in love, and spend lifetimes together. They support each other, and are joyful, fulfilling companions for life. Had either or both of them been born on opposite sides of the planet would they never have found love or been able to partner in a meaningful way? Unlikely.
What is a realistic vision of true love? Look for the following elements to be in place:
Chemistry. Do you “click” –physically and emotionally?
Shared values. Do you and your partner care about the same things?
Shared goals. Can you and your partner agree on some fundamental life goals?
Being there. Will you and your partner show up for each other in the same place at the same time?
Taking the risk. Are you both willing to risk your hearts to form a bond of true intimacy?
Growth. Can you both develop over time as a couple, overcoming challenges together?
Willingness to work. Do you both buckle down and do the work needed for both personal growth and the relationship?
Wherever you are on the path of love, realize that love is a choice and encompasses more than a feeling. Many people fall in love and yet choose not to form a lasting partnership. They are in school, or starting careers, or just not ready. The love is there, but the choice is not made. Later, love happens and suddenly both parties are ready to make that choice. The “stars align” (so to speak) because of any number of factors, and a lifetime partnership begins. Do you love this person more than the one you loved five years ago? Maybe. But maybe not. There is a lot more to true love than love.
In a recent Gallup Poll, 98% of interviewees said it was important to marry their soul mate. Whether or not you believe in soul mates or twin flames, do not let yourself become bogged down by unrealistic expectations. Every soul has more than one potential partner.