How to find your soul mate
True love: so appealing and yet somehow so elusive for those who fail to attract an enduring and fulfilling relationship into their lives. However if you challenge the assumption that ‘love is blind’, you can discover how to avoid blindly falling in love with an incompatible mate and instead ascend in love with the soulmate of your dreams.
Opinions differ as to what ‘soulmate’ means. Is your soulmate the one partner in the world who ‘completes’ you? This was the hypothesis offered by the Greek philosopher Plato (5th century BC). In the Symposium he proposed that early humankind originally had both male and female parts until they were tragically split apart. Only by reuniting with their soulmate could they supposedly feel whole again.
Another perspective on soulmates is Jung’s (1875-1961) idea that this completeness can be accessed within yourself, independently of another person. His anima and animus theory espouses that you can reconnect your inner feminine and masculine essence in the same way Hindu texts talk of awakening your dormant Shiva (active) and Shakti (receptive) nature. The premise here is that when your being is integrated you become the soulmate of divinity within, eliminating the need to search outside yourself for the experience of unconditional love through blissful union. Mystic Edgar Cayce supports this idea: “The soul is the soulmate of the universe rather than of an individual entity.”
Perhaps you have many soulmates who drift into your life, teaching you what you need to learn, drifting out again when their role has expired. In this way they can be seen as a trigger for self healing and transformation, coaxing your true self to shine through.
Whichever theory you prefer, the desire for loving relationships remains undeniably the most owerful driving force in the human psyche.
As you bounce down the street, the breeze caresses you and sunshine kisses your skin. Radiating joy and vitality, you smile at the strangers in the bank queue who wonder what you’re on. The truth is your body is bursting with the euphoric biochemicals released when you become smitten by the love bug. Intoxicated by ecstasy-inducing chemicals called monoamines and pain-killing endorphins pulsating through your veins, you experience the giddy moments of fresh love.
The ability to distinguish lust from love is blurred by the presence of these primal juices, though, and once you come down from the initial thrill the realities of sustaining a long-term relationship hit home. The course of love rarely runs smoothly, and although you might be seeking a satisfying relationship, you could find yourself becoming involved with a person who is incompatible or proceeding to unconsciously sabotage your progress with a prospective partner. To clear the path for enduring love you need to examine your attitude to relationships and your choice of partner, in an attempt to remove any roadblocks on the freeway of love.
Roadblocks on the freeway of love
When you think of the words ‘love’, ‘relationship’, ‘partner’ and ‘commitment’, what flashes through your mind? Your parents fighting? Bored couples sitting silently through dinner? A television episode of Married with Children? Do you literally picture yourself on a leash, straining to reach forbidden delicacies? Or perhaps ‘chained to the kitchen sink’ by an abusive and demanding partner?
Everyone has some negative associations with relationships, perhaps from years of exposure to poor relationship models in the media or in life. The danger is if you don’t replace these with positive faith in your capacity to have a fulfilling relationship, these negativities can manifest as self-fulfilling prophecies. To get out of your own way and allow love in, you need to recognise if you are acting out a sabotaging pattern. Some common syndromes include the following.
Living with armour around their hearts, these people are either ‘once bitten, twice shy’ or are afraid to unleash powerful suppressed emotions in case they backfire. Assuming a cynical and disparaging view of the opposite sex and love in general protects them from becoming vulnerable. Under that tough, cynical exterior they are actually terrified of hurt, rejection and disappointment. Tactics they use to keep love interests at bay include reciting negative generalisations such as “All men are cheats and liars” or “All women are naggers” and memorising divorce statistics.
Their favourite jokes are often attacks on marriage. Such tactics are not at all enticing to a prospective love interest. Ironically, what you believe in, you tend to achieve, so these hopeless unromantics attract relationship scenarios that support their stance. Instead of hiding behind a mask of negativity and cynicism, they need to cultivate courage and openness.
If you’ve ever been ‘in love’ with the unattainable actor, rock star, teacher or happily married person, you know what the ‘dreamer delusion’ is all about. Having a fantasy love can make you feel alive and full of hope, and open your heart to feel a strong connection with another person, even if the feeling isn’t mutual. The sweetness of unrequited love can seem more pleasurable than the ups and downs of a committed partnership. It is easier, too, as without true intimacy you don’t have to compromise, grow or face your weaknesses as they are reflected in a two-way relationship. It also offers a distraction from what might seem to be a lonely and boring existence, providing a basis for hours of anguished discussion with friends and occupying your mind with countless unrealistic plot scenarios. It seems a minor detail that the object of your desire might be: in a happily committed relationship; not attracted to you; of a different sexual persuasion; an unattainable celebrity or role model; or someone who temporarily exploited you and moved on.
Dreamers often believe there is only one true love for them and the universe will eventually conspire to unite them. Of course, 10 years later when they wake up from their fantasy world, they realise they have wasted years pouring energy into a hopeless cause while a life of true possibilities passed them by. The shared joys and burdens of a tangible relationship can never be replaced by a one-dimensional, virtual love. Most dreamers have low self-esteem issues. They doubt their worthiness and ability to be in a relationship and they lack the courage and intimacy skills needed to sustain reciprocal love. They might also hold beliefs that love is a struggle, is unattainable and is filled with angst. Once they come to understand that love doesn’t hurt, but heals, and they value themselves enough to go for the love they deserve, they will mature from this phase.
If you are convinced it’s not your destiny to be in a happy relationship, you will probably prove yourself right. The terminally despondent cling to this fatalistic belief with gloomy acceptance. They can often support their despondency with reference to their “terrible relationship karma” confirmed by a negative astrologer, tarot reader, psychologist, mother or expert of choice.
There is an element of destiny in all our lives and we need to take some responsibility for our own happiness. Often, the terminally despondent have withdrawn from life and relationships in response to previous disappointments. Understanding that the past does not equal the future is the first step to creating a destiny of your own.
Too busy for two
Sogyal Rinpoche called it “Western laziness”. It’s a way of cramming every waking moment with activity so you are too busy and distracted to face the real issues. Some people do this with love. They keep their schedules packed so they don’t have time to reflect on the emotional void they feel without a loving partner in their life. A mask of self sufficiency and independence might hide an underlying craving for love and companionship. They are too busy to have a relationship. Besides, the material gains they are achieving through work are more satisfying, so they tell themselves.
These people might also have difficulty reconciling the contrasting behaviour required in the workplace as opposed to the ‘love place’. Work skills value competitiveness, toughness and emotional coolness. These are contrary to the love skills, such as selflessness, tenderness and openness, which are needed to develop a relationship. Work is time- and goal-oriented, whereas love thrives in an organic, relaxed way, free of deadlines.
How do you reconcile the two? This is the dilemma of the workaholic ‘love blocker’. Finding love is not a matter of just scheduling it in your diary like an appointment. Love thrives during unstructured, spontaneous leisure time. You might have to clear some space and time in your life to allow love in. If love is a priority, you also need to soften and relax in your relationships with others.
Are you ready to undergo ‘heart surgery’ to release any limiting patterns? While we all have love scars to bear, it’s more useful to view past negative experiences as valuable lessons that make you stronger, wiser and more capable of a loving relationship. Because you will now be able to make clearer distinctions regarding what does and doesn’t work in a relationship, this gives you clarity about your ideal relationship.
Love won’t enter on demand but you can make sure you aren’t standing in its way if it’s ready to come in. You will overcome love blocks only if you have the faith that great relationships are possible and are excited and inspired to be in one yourself. Love is a positive force that grows in a positive environment and starves in an atmosphere of negativity. To nurture positivity, think of positive role models of happy relationships. Spend time with them, list all the things you would gain from a relationship and, most importantly, nurture an unconditionally loving relationship with yourself.
Discovering me before finding we
You only have to look within to find the love you seek. Once you connect with your inherently loving and lovable inner core, you can develop a healthy loving relationship with someone else. Although some people believe you can ‘find yourself in someone else’, you are more likely to be happy with someone if you are capable of happiness alone. It is a fallacy that a relationship will complete you when all it does is enhance your individual completeness (or, alternatively, dysfunctions). So how do you develop this sense of completeness, happiness and self love? The first step is to clean up your self image. If you have a poor self image, people will treat you poorly. This is because people will treat you the way you treat yourself. Unhealthy self esteem will make you reliant on others for a sense of worth, a recipe for a co-dependent relationship. A 1996 Harlequin Romance report of 5300 women highlighted this fatal flaw when women said the most important thing in a relationship was “how he makes me feel about myself”. Seeking validation or happiness from another is an incredibly vulnerable situation to put yourself in. It doesn’t convey a desire to love unconditionally but, rather, a desperate hunger to be loved. This will scare off any partners wanting an equal relationship.
You need to know who you want to be and where your strengths lie before you can know who you want to be with. Make a start by writing a list of all your positive attributes and qualities, including the things you have to contribute to a relationship. Also, write down the qualities you will develop in the near future. Ask your friends how you could improve yourself if you get stuck. Recite these qualities every morning and evening with conviction, while holding an empowering vision of yourself in your mind.
To maintain enthusiasm in the quest for love, you have to ignite some passion within. Once you feel love internally you are more likely to attract it externally. One way to increase your faith in the elevating and expansive possibilities of love is through music, books, movies and poetry related to love. Make a love tape with a compilation of all your favourite love songs. Play it whenever you feel despondent and you will feel the flow of love awaken in you. In effect, you are tuning your love radar to resonate at a compatible frequency with your soulmate’s.
Listing your love criteria
You are more likely to get what you want if you know what it is. This principle applies to buying a car as much as to finding your soulmate. The trouble is, most people spend more time and energy choosing a car than deciding on the type of person they would like to share their life with. It’s time to make a clear list of the values, character and shared goals your partner will have. Don’t make the mistake many make by choosing a partner on the basis of one or two personality traits, such as “they’re funny” and “they like the same music I do”. Of course, these help with compatibility, but the essential things for a long-term relationship are reflected in shared beliefs, values, actions and attitudes. You also don’t want a carbon copy of yourself: differences can add spice to a relationship. However, your core goals and values should be similar. Keep in mind, too, that your soulmate isn’t perfect but he or she is perfect for you. Relationships expert Barbara D’Angelis lists the following criteria as essential: commitment to growth; emotional openness; integrity; maturity and responsibility; and healthy self esteem.
Don’t be afraid to ask for too much. The clearer the message you send out to the universe, the stronger your soulmate is magnetised into your life and the more easily any unsuitable suitors are repelled. Once you have clarified what you want in a partner it’s easier to move on from those who don’t fit your criteria. This might sound heartless but, in fact, you are doing them a favour by not stringing them along with false hope. Also, your own energy won’t be tied up when the right person comes along.
Patience and perseverance are vital. You might be tempted to forget your standards and go for a ‘better than nothing’ (BTN) relationship if you don’t meet Mr/Ms Right soon. You can lower your standards to have a greater chance of meeting someone, but will they ultimately meet your needs? Mr/Ms Right Now might keep you warm at night but is he/she someone you could spend your life with?
Friends might suggest you are being unrealistic and would be more successful if you lowered your standards a bit. ‘Successful’ at what, though? It is possible that if you hold out for your best, it will come along. Perhaps only when you are ready can your beloved appear.
Impatience is the greatest obstacle to meeting the right person. Rather than panic because you are still single, think of yourself as temporarily available. Think of this as preparation time when you can enjoy building your character and health. You might feel ready for your soulmate but perhaps they have to go through some things before you can be together. You can also imagine there’s someone pining for you with a vacancy in their life that only you can fill.
Cutting to the chase
Now is the time to seize the day and take action. It’s at this point that most people start to falter. They know what to do but fail to do what they know. They are afraid to go out of their comfort zone, not accepting that sometimes you have to go out on a limb to get the juiciest fruit. With love there is a romantic notion that if you passively let go, it will simply fall into your lap. However, you can actively help rather than hinder yourself through your actions, attitudes and demeanour.
There are no guaranteed ways to meet your soulmate, but sitting at home alone is definitely not one of them. The important thing is that you follow your intuition and do what feels right for you. With the happy couples we polled, we found they did what they loved and the love came. Go to places and do things your soulmate would be interested in. Keep busy with enlivening pursuits and set aside unstructured leisure time.
Let your supportive friends and family know your criteria for a partner and encourage them to introduce you to suitable people. Try to go out on as many dates as possible. This increases your odds of meeting The One. (If you don’t believe us, rent the hilarious documentary, 20 Dates.) If you were interviewing people for a job, you wouldn’t take the first applicant who came along without seeing the others, would you? Yet many people do just that with relationships and get involved, out of desperation, with the first who offers.
Many happy couples have met at the most unlikely places, so keep your mind and eyes open at every opportunity. Although Internet chatrooms, dating services, singles events and classified ads smack of a certain forced artificiality, they might be appropriate avenues to consider.
Wherever you are, act as if you are already in love. Having a generous, loving spirit towards everyone is not only food for the soul, it’s also magnetically attractive.
Delays are not denials
Don’t interpret delays as denials. Rather than dwell on negative feelings, see them as a call to take some positive action. Remain optimistic. Even though you’re alone, you don’t have to be lonely. To stave off self pity, develop your interests and ambitions, evolving into a more interesting person. Avoid becoming obsessively focused on finding your soulmate. See it merely as a bonus in your already happy life. Stay determined rather than lapse into panicked desperation.
Interested and interesting
Would you approach the person with arms and legs crossed, an aggressive stare, back hunched over and a bored, monotonous voice? Or would you be more likely to speak the person who appeared relaxed, open, centred, smiling and genuinely interested in conversation? Use your glance to express a thousand welcoming words and your body language to create an aura of attraction.
If you are interested in someone, let them know with subtle flirtatious gestures like a pat on the elbow, leg or shoulder. Smile a lot and look into their eyes. Don’t talk too much, revealing too many details about your life. Keep some mystery about you so they are inspired to get to know you further. If you are easier to be with than to get to know, it will make them appreciate you more when you are eventually together. Be a good listener and show genuine enthusiasm for your common interests. Add a few sincere compliments and the deal should be sealed.
Dating shouldn’t be torture. Relax and have some fun with it. If you’re not interested in a person, be a little more reserved. There is no benefit in being rude to them. Who knows, they might introduce you to a friend who is more compatible as a soulmate, or they might become a great friend.
In the search for your prince or princess you will have to kiss some frogs! To make this as painless and quick as possible, break it up as soon as you realise the other person doesn’t meet your needs. You might think this is harsh but, in fact, you are being kind by avoiding their further attachment to you, which would result in a more prolonged and painful break-up. They might meet some of your short-term needs for intimacy but it will most likely be at the expense of attaining your long-term relationship goals.
It’s always harder if you are on the receiving end of a break-up. If you have fragile self esteem, it can shatter your hopes and paralyse you from moving on to greater love. But if you have a healthy self esteem you will quickly see this relationship wasn’t in your best interests and someone more compatible is waiting for you in the wings. You deserve someone who feels as strongly towards you as you do for them. It might be bewildering at the time but with hindsight’s 20/20 vision, you will see how wrong you were for each other. To clear some space for a compatible person to come in, you need to have emotional and physical closure with the person who was not such a good match. Make sure you communicate your feelings to them so you can have an amicable parting and move on to the real love of your life.
Does the shoe fit?
You’ve met a possible partner. Do you fall to your knees, profess your undying love and propose to them on the spot? Or do you rip their clothes off and jump into bed with them at the first opportunity? Stop! Take a deep breath and stay centred. You are standing at the precipice of the rest of your life. Getting involved with the right person can elevate you to untold ecstasy but entanglement with the wrong person might drag you down to the deepest pit of despair. Be careful! You don’t want to judge them too hastily and live in regret.
Before handing over the keys to your precious heart and body, you have to check whether the other person has a valid licence to love. That means checking for fatal flaws such as addictions, violence, sexual dysfunction, fear of commitment, dishonesty, untrustworthiness or a controlling nature. Contrary to the saying, love doesn’t conquer all, especially such dangerous ingrained traits. The other person should also fare well on your soulmate checklist. Compatibility should always come before commitment or copulation.
Never become sexually involved before the other person has at least passed this initial screening. Some people take one sniff of an attractive person’s pheromones and then check-in their brain at the foot of their bed. Physical attraction is an important component to a relationship, registering compatible mating chemistry and a good energy synergy, but it can seriously impede your ‘love IQ’, blinding you to major incompatibilities. Once the embers of passion have cooled you might find yourself with very little foundation for an enduring relationship. For this reason it’s better to hold off making love until you’ve connected well on all other levels.
Love interests are on their best behaviour initially, putting their best image forward to attract you, so it can be difficult to know their true character. Don’t base your understanding of them solely on what they say or do. You’ll get a much clearer picture by asking friends, family, past girlfriends and even a good astrologer about their nature. Also, observing how they treat those closest to them, especially the opposite sex, will be very revealing.
Other people might offer relationship guidance at this stage, if you let them. However, they don’t have to live with the outcome of your choices, so it’s easy for them to tell you what to do. Don’t place too much importance on unsolicited advice, as nobody can know the intricate dynamics between two lovers (although they might profess to). Only consider consulting people you respect, who have healthy relationships themselves and who have trust in your powers of discrimination. This might bring you some valuable objective clarity in territory that can become hazy with emotion.
Naturally, everyone has some flaws; you just have to decide whether you can and want to live with them. Are you clipping love’s wings by judging the other person too hastily? If you see their potential as a partner but there are some problems, you might like to agree on a time period before total commitment, during which you both willingly work on the issues. If you commit too early your partner doesn’t have much impetus to change, as they have already obtained what they want.
Another aspect to consider is the notion in Eastern philosophy that you share the karma of your mate. If your potential partner has a shady, sin-riddled past, you might have to share the burden of their karmic repercussions. If you really love them, this might be a price you are willing to pay.
If everything has gone smoothly to date, there are four final questions to which you should be able to unequivocally answer ‘yes’ before committing:
- Am I getting more pleasure than pain from this relationship?
- Would I want to be with this person if they never changed or if they became physically impaired?
- Will life be more fulfilling with this person?
- Can I meet their expectations and will they meet my expectations? (You have to know what their expectations are, especially regarding children, career, house duties, finances, lifestyle and fidelity.)
Happily ever after
Some people associate the word ‘committed’ with being trapped in a mental asylum. They will do anything to avoid the C word. Others view commitment as a liberating experience. It allows them to totally relax and surrender to the certainty of being loved and loving an appreciative person. Settling with your soulmate can be a welcome respite from the emotional drain of dating. Many people report that becoming loving towards one person strips them of their defensive emotional armour, making them more loving towards everyone.
Sustaining a satisfying relationship is where the real challenge lies. Love is not a solution to life’s problems; it is a process of transformation and growth. To make anything grow you need to nurture it with positive input. To keep a relationship growing and happy, focus on its strengths, potential and shared rich history rather than analyse its faults and predict when it is going to end. Focus on the blessings and lessons brought to you through the relationship and take the time to bond with your partner in fun and exciting ways. Never lose sight of the beautiful qualities that originally brought you together.
What is the secret to a good marriage? Recent statistics indicate the most important element for an enduring marriage is friendship, something Nietzsche (1844-1900) deduced decades ago when he concluded, “It is not lack of love but lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
In a good relationship you find inner strengths and joy that you never knew you were capable of experiencing. In a bad relationship you lose your sense of self and become dependent on your partner for happiness. It’s essential to keep your own centre by maintaining friendships and interests apart from your relationship. This allows you to bring fresh energy to your partnership rather than recirculate the same stuff, which can become stale over time.
You also need to continue working on yourself rather than focus on your partner’s issues. At times when you criticise your partner you might be unfairly comparing them with others or actually externalising frustration with yourself. Divorce or break-up might appear to be the easy way out, but if you give up before really trying to resolve problems, you are likely to run straight into the same conflicts with others. Honestly see how you are contributing to the problem. By shifting your perspective and behaviour you might be able to trigger a shift in your partner.
A happy relationship involves mutual compromise, tolerance, respect and emotional openness. People universally crave love because they instinctively know that what you give is far outweighed by the joy you gain.
Caroline Robertson is a naturopath, homoeopath and Ayurvedic consultant and teacher. Rama Prasad is an Ayurvedic physician, yoga teacher and President of the Ayurvedic Traditional Medicine Association. They run a busy clinic and Ayurvedic healing courses in Sydney. Ph/Fax: (02) 9904 4859; Email: email@example.com