Will Finding Your Soulmate Guarantee Happiness?
The ideal of that ‘one true love’ may be a romantic fantasy that blindsides you from seeing the potential in a relationship and makes finding and keeping love harder.
By April Zara Chua
Thanks to Hollywood and Disney, romantics see a soulmate as someone who will “sweep you off your feet” or someone who is your “one true love”.
But where do soulmates stand in our quest for a partner in real life? According to Jenny Ng, Head Matchmaker at Dating Moments, an SDNTrust Accredited Agency, having the idea of a soulmate can make it more challenging when it comes to searching for a potential partner.
“It potentially means that (you) run the risk of not meeting that person at all and miss a lot of genuine opportunities for love with people who do share certain chemistry with (you),” she says.
She understands, however, that when it comes to love, everyone hopes to find a person who meets all their expectations and needs. A case in point: Half of the clients who come to Dating Moments believe in the idea of soulmates.
One such couple is Koh Chee Kiong, 38, and Sherine Wee, 34, who met in 2016 through Dating Moments’ personalised one-to-one matching service and have been in a relationship since. Both subscribe to the idea of soulmates and believe that they have found it in each other.
To them, soulmates matter in a relationship and there is someone for everyone. “A soulmate is like your best friend, someone who has the keys that fit our locks, and someone you can’t live without. It’s someone you can share your feelings with, create memories with and grow old together with,” says Chee Kiong.
Soulmates and quality of a relationship
Clinging on to an ideal soulmate, however, can sabotage an existing relationship. A 2010 study by psychology professor Renae Franiuk of Aurora University in the United States indicated that those who believe in soulmates tend to constantly compare their partners against their ideal partner model, and their relationship satisfaction directly correlates with how well their partners fit this mould. Once their partners commit a relationship faux pas, they become unhappy and tend to end the relationship prematurely, preferring to move on to the next person who might better fit their soulmate criteria. There is also the underlying stress caused by the other party trying to live up to this set of criteria, which can cause frustration to both parties.
The study also introduced the “work-it-out” theory, which sits at the other end of the spectrum. Couples guided by this belief focus less on a checklist of ideal characteristics and more on their ability to resolve conflict and face adversity together.
What truly matters
So, how do you create a successful, lasting relationship? Perhaps a healthy mix of both theories is the answer. There are successful couples who weren’t soulmates at the beginning but have grown together over time, and there are also those who started out as soulmates but are willing to work out their differences despite not fulfilling their perfect partner criteria. While being with your soulmate means you’re one of the lucky ones, it’s also important to remember that there is more to a relationship than just being soulmates – it also requires a lot of work and commitment.
Jenny agrees: “Everybody’s needs change over time. It really depends on whether the initial criteria match the relationship as it progresses, and how both parties work to support each other when they (encounter) challenges along the way.”
Soulmates aside, Chee Kiong and Sherine value openness, respect, communication and trust in their relationship. “(You also need) to think about how your partner is feeling. (You have) to be giving and willing to compromise. If you wish to be with your partner in the long term, it’s important to set realistic and healthy expectations,” says Sherine.
When it comes to handling their clients’ expectations, Jenny and her team at Dating Moments are very transparent and honest about what is achievable in terms of their search for a perfect partner. She recommends looking past the checklist of ideals and focusing on and enjoying the process of getting to know the other person better.
“(We encourage) our clients to be all-embracing when it comes to love, as it is not measurable and is beyond any definition or concept,” she says.
The secret sauce
Every relationship is different and its success depends on how the partners navigate their way through trials and tribulations together. Jenny advises loving the person in the same manner as when you both first got together, no matter how life situations and circumstances change around you. “Imperfections exist as a test for two persons willing to work at it together – and that’s what makes them perfect for each other,” she says.
Chee Kiong and Sherine’s tip for those still looking for the right partner is to not shut your mind from possibilities. “Once you decide that you want a certain person in your life, you must accept them for who they are.”