The concept of soulmates can be a polarising one, especially depending on how the term is defined.
Understandably, it may seem implausible that there’s one (and only one!) ideal match for each of us out there. However, if your definition of a soulmate is broader — someone you have a strong connection with, who gives you a sense of peace and rightness and yet challenges you to grow and be the best version of yourself — it’s a lot easier to buy into, especially because you can have many of those encounters throughout your life.
We asked relationship experts ”• including a matchmaker, a wedding officiant and marriage therapists ”• what the term soulmate means to them and if they believe in the existence of such kindred spirits. Here’s what they told us:
“I believe in soulmates to an extent. When you meet someone that you just click with on many levels and things feel easy with them and you feel very happy and fulfilled, this can be a soulmate type of feeling. I don’t think there is only one; there can be many people in the world that you would click with if you met them.
“The limitations of this idea are mainly that people think they won’t have to work on their relationship if they met their soulmate. The truth is, no matter how happy you are or how compatible you are with someone, you will always have to be careful that you act lovingly and that you don’t begin to take your partner for granted.” — Samantha Rodman, psychologist
“People leave relationships in search of that one person ‘they’re meant to be with.’ That’s a fantasy. There is no such thing. People are package deals. There will be aspects of each partner you love and aspects that will drive you crazy. You can trade one person in for a new and improved model, and after the newness wears off, you will be back at square one, needing to learn relationship skills to make love last.” — Michele Weiner-Davis, therapist and author of Divorce Busting
“I personally believe in soulmates. There are some people who are truly meant to be.
“Many couples I have married have overcome racism, cultural and religious challenges and/or critical families because they knew they were meant to be together. Their connection was so deep, even though they hailed from different worlds.
“Any time I see love that strong and committed, or people brought together by everyday miracles, it reconfirms my belief in soulmates.
“Soulmates still have to pay the bills and deal with medical appointments. They raise kids and experience the messiness of life and the realities of growing and growing older together. But people who see themselves as two connected souls tend to share a sacred bond.” — Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, wedding officiant and author of Your Interfaith Wedding
“To me, a soulmate is a symbol. It’s a symbol of hope, connection and healing (particularly attachment-based healing) that we as humans desire and crave. It’s a symbol of feeling that — in spite of our histories, pain, dysfunctional relationship patterns — we will ‘click’ with someone and will be able to make it work. The soulmate symbol creates hope and speaks to a desire to be loved, seen, heard, understood and to feel worthy. And even more so, a soulmate is the hope that we will be loved, seen, heard, understood and worthy, despite our flaws.
“While I think hope and symbols are important, I try not to lean into them too hard as they can sometimes take away someone’s sense of agency in their own situation. Our relationships and future relationships may be influenced but are not determined by what we have or have not experienced, and we can have agency in that process.” — Jesse Kahn, therapist and director of The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Collective
“Even as a matchmaker, the word soulmate feels a little contrived. It’s a really beautiful thought, but also a really good excuse to take a pass on relationships that aren’t ‘perfect.’ Since today’s app culture has made it easy to think there’s always a better choice out there, the idea of a soulmate becomes a limiting factor, asking partners to expect they will get everything they need from one person.
“The fact is, the person for you will be imperfectly perfect. I believe that everybody can have lots of soulmates. And so often, for better or for worse, it comes down to timing, where two people are in their lives and being truly on the same page.” — Erika Kaplan, senior matchmaker at Three Day Rule
“Many of us equate good chemistry with true love, and bad chemistry with lack of love, yet we have trouble knowing which is which. The question is whether it’s the kind of chemistry that will produce a healthy relationship.
“Chemistry overpowers the strangeness of being new to each other and makes you feel close right away. While this is often helpful, it has some pitfalls if you let your chemistry lead you without conscious thought. On the other hand, many excellent lifelong relationships began without a lot of chemistry. People who develop a friendship first often don’t generate the chemistry right away.
“Chemistry is powerful, but if you focus too heavily on whether or not you are excited about someone, you may discount the very real possibilities of the kind of love that grows slowly, such as a friendship that eventually becomes a lover relationship.” — Tina Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today
″‘Soulmate’ is one of these terms that lends itself to misunderstanding and sometimes scorn. If overly romanticized, like searching for that ‘one true soulmate,’ it becomes a rigid and impossible-to-achieve ideal. If seen in an overly clinical way, it’s easy to dismiss the concept altogether as unrealistic. Yet if you break it down into its components, what does sharing your soul with someone mean?
“Joni Mitchell has a line in one of her songs that I love about love being like touching souls. It’s really important to know what you mean by ‘soul’ in order to share yours with another person. This includes the soul as your authentic, ‘best version of yourself,’ as well as when soul includes a spiritual component. What do you need from a partner, in terms of qualities that they demonstrate, in order to share who you are in a way that encourages connection, safety and trust? Knowing your emotional needs intimately and emphasizing the qualities in a partner best suited to meet them is one way to connect to a soulmate.” — Juan Olmedo, therapist