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What Is a Soul Mate, Really?

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Ah, soul mates. We’ve all been fed the romantic notion that there’s one perfect someone out there for us. Everyone has one perfect soul mate, and if we’re lucky, we’ll find each other and live happily ever after. The stars will align for us: we’ll be born at the same time (give or take a few or twenty years) and after living our lives a little, we’ll magically end up in the same part of the world at exactly the right time to fall head-over-heels in love. We’ll know instantly when we meet. Bells will ring, cupids will dance around our heads, and we’ll have stars in our eyes. You’ve seen the cartoon and movie versions, I’m sure.


I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that it doesn’t work like that most of the time, and when it does, it doesn’t always have a happy ending. The good news is that even when things end badly, we can still make our own happy ending. The other good news is that there’s more than one soul mate for each of us. To understand this, you’ll need a better understanding of what a soul mate really is.


Soul mates are individuals who incarnate together for the purpose of growing in love. They make agreements with each other to help teach the life lessons each wants to learn. Then they incarnate at more or less the same time as a soul family. The members of a soul family are soul mates. Soul mates are kindred spirits, but they are not necessarily romantic partners. Your best friend is a soul mate, and one, sometimes both of your parents are soul mates. Anyone with whom you’ve been in a significant romantic relationship is a soul mate. 


When I say significant romantic relationship, I mean one that has impacted you on a deeply emotional level. Soul mates give you a chance to see yourself more clearly. Any significant relationship that teaches you something about yourself is a relationship with a soul mate. 


It doesn’t have to be a long-term relationship. It doesn’t even have to be a relationship that had a positive outcome. Some of our soul mates agree to act as the villain in our life to help us learn something important about ourselves. For example, a partner who cheated on you may not seem like a soul mate, but if that experience helps you grow in self-respect, then that person has given you a gift. You may not appreciate the wrapping, but once you’re on the other side of the experience, you will appreciate the gift. 




We all come into the world as perfect, radiant beings. We deeply trust that we will be loved and cared for. We look at the world with eyes of unconditional love and we expect that love to be reflected back to us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out like that. At some point in our young lives, we discover that our needs will not always be met. We cry and are left unattended. We’re hungry and we don’t get fed right away. We have a dirty diaper and are left to sit in it. As we grow, we fall down and hurt ourselves. We misbehave and a parent takes away our favorite toy. We eat crayons and get yelled at. We throw food and get a smack on the hand. Each experience creates an impression in the psyche.


Even if your childhood was idyllic, you were still wounded. No matter how wonderful your parents were, there were times when you felt alone, abandoned, and unloved as an infant or young child. A seemingly simple thing like being left to cry in a playpen for a few minutes can create a lasting impact on the psyche. Even if your parents were wonderful, loving beings, you may have had a teacher or a babysitter who gave you a message that led you to hide your light. It is a normal, natural part of the process of being human.


I believe that we come into the world to play a game. The game is to hide our light and try to find it again—a game of cosmic hide and seek. Our soul mates are the other players in the game. We are all divine beings, pretending to be mere mortals. We have veils, called maya (illusion) in Sanskrit, that make us forget that we are powerful co-creators of our reality, and that we each have a spark of the divine within. We choose our parents for the ways they will help us forget that our true nature is unconditional love, and then we spend most, if not all, of our adult lives trying to find our way back to that unconditional love. 


All the reasons we look for and attract a romantic partner come down to one thing: we have been wounded as small children and our soul—our heart—deeply desires to be whole again. It’s always looking for those missing pieces to put back into the puzzle that is you. It’s also always looking for a do-over; a way to replay the times your parents wounded you and heal from them by creating a more loving outcome. Our romantic partners and other members of our soul family agree to help us put the pieces back together.

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