Ah, what’s better than the feeling of falling in love? Finally finding your soul mate, happily ever after, yadda yadda.
Then two, or maybe five years later, we’re realizing maybe they’re not our soul mate after all. The prince is actually a frog and pushes our buttons like no other.
Is something wrong with our soul mate radar detector?
It depends on how you define soul mate. I define soul mate as a loving partner who offers an opportunity for mutual learning and growth. By that definition, your soul mate radar detector is spot on.
If you define soul mate as someone with whom the learning and growth should end, then you will get a lot of false positives because, IMHO, such a person does not exist.
Soul mates are not perfect. We do not become perfect either when we meet our soul mate, even if that sense of wholeness and completion may suggest it.
And perfect is not even a thing we should strive for. It’s unattainable. Perfection suggests that growth is irrelevant. Worse, perfection implies that the need for growth indicates there is something wrong. To me, commitment to growth actually is the most important quality in successful relationships.
Falling into and out of romantic love occurs in predictable cycles, according to relationship expert Harville Hendricks. We are all wounded in our early years. Our romantic partner feels to us like a self-actualized version of the wounder from our youth. That’s why we feel complete when we’re with our partner, we feel we are safe from the wounding.
But when the endorphins wear off, we’re left with a partner who can set off our hot buttons like no other. Likely they still have room for learning and growth in the way they tend to wound others, and so do we.
Such is the opportunity for a couple to understand their wounds and choose to reciprocally create a safe and supportive space for their partner to heal themselves.
Did I mention that learning and growth were important to a successful and fulfilling relationship? Apparently, it’s a recurring theme through this series, and this blog in general.
Science tells us that the most rewarding experiences are the ones we work for. This is doubly true when the experiences involve our loved ones, or when learning to be intimate and vulnerable with each other. This type of work is not only an investment in the partner and the relationship itself, but also in you. What could be more worthwhile?