Soul Mates


I usually don’t open much of anything that lands in my spam folder, but for some reason I opened this one:

Hello, how are you doing? My name is miss Laure, am searching for a soul mate; don’t you think we could have something in common? Let’s open communication and see what transpires, Just go ahead and email me,i promise to get back to you,

Miss Laure’s plaintive cry for companionship is different from the others. For example, Miss Laure knows how to use a semicolon…an exceedingly rare ability in the Age of Texting. “Let’s open communication and see what transpires” speaks to MY heart much more so than “i saw ur profile& ur hot maybe we cld chat sumtime?”

Miss Laure asks: “Don’t you think we could have something in common?” Well, of course we could. And I appreciate her asking, especially post-election, when it’s something we should ALL be asking of ourselves.

But Miss Laure is searching for a “soul mate,” and here is where I am going to have to crush Miss Laure’s dreams.

Because you see, Miss Laure, I don’t happen to believe there is any such thing.

Miss Laure, I am married. Have been since 1998. My husband and I can finish each other’s sentences. We obsessively acquire instruments. We both think jokes about Aaron Burr and Martin Van Buren are hilarious.

Given all that, is he my soul mate? Statistically speaking, probably not. And because my husband is eminently logical and spends a good portion of his day collecting, processing, and analyzing data (as do I), I’m reasonably certain that he would not find this insulting.

And empirically speaking, I still don’t think there’s such a thing. I was young(er) once; I remember being swept up enough by someone to mistake the sudden and dramatic release of dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine for “true love.” (My prodigious alcohol and drug consumption probably had something to do with that, too.)

Miss Laure, you’re probably reading this and thinking I’m some kind of scientific cold fish. I prefer to think of myself as a “skeptical deist.” I believe there’s something bigger than us, and I believe that we’re powered by more than just electrical impulses.

But this “soul mate” thing invariably leads to disappointment.

Because the fact is, Miss Laure, that a “soul mate” doesn’t stand you up on New Year’s Eve and then claim he fell asleep. A “soul mate” doesn’t decide that moving as far away from you as possible, to avoid having your relationship become more serious, is a good idea. A “soul mate” doesn’t tell you that you’d be hotter if you lost 15 pounds. I had “soul mates” who did these very things. Because they were human, with all the frailties and baggage that cause us to act in quite hurtful ways towards the people we supposedly love.

I don’t believe in “soul mates,” Miss Laure. I don’t believe ANYONE who says that his or her relationship is “easy” or “effortless” or (gag) “magical.” I think that if we’re lucky, we meet someone who fires up our neurotransmitters for a bit, and when all that chemistry has settled down, there remains a deeper connection that makes us want to stick around, even knowing that there will be bouts of unpleasantness, miscommunication, and doubt. And that connection is, truly, a rewarding thing. I hope you’ll stop looking for a “soul mate,” and find that connection instead.