(NaturalNews) Of course we've all been primed to find our soulmate and live in a state of unconditional love and unity.
But is the social conditioning around soulmates valid? Or is the concept of soulmates just a pop psychology fantasy that leads to frustration and loneliness?
One team of researchers set out to discover just how well soulmates fare in the real world of relationships.
Social psychologists have long known that people think and talk about love in a wide variety of ways. Two very common themes are: 1) viewing love as a journey that two people take together, or 2) believing in love as a perfect union that was meant to be - soulmates!
The research has now shown that couples who view themselves as soulmates tend to have worse relationships, not better.
According to study authors Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz, belief in soulmates could potentially highlight the damaging effects of even minor relationship conflicts. After all, if the couple believes they were made in heaven for each other, why would they have conflicts at all?
Their belief in a perfect union between partners caused individuals in the study to evaluate their relationship in a different way than those who tended to view love as a journey. This result held true for more subtle follow-up experiments that were performed as well. Conflicts only tended to hurt relationship satisfaction when the individuals viewed love with a unity frame of mind.
In the main experiment, Schwarz and Lee had couples in long-term relationships complete a quiz evaluating whether they viewed love as a journey or a unity. Participants were then asked to recall celebrations and conflicts with their partner, and finally evaluate their overall relationship.
The authors found that not surprisingly, recalling conflicts did tend to lead people to feel less satisfied with their relationships. However, this only held true for people who believed in the soulmates concept.
Lee and Schwarz advise couples who are beginning to experience conflict in their relationship to try to view their love as a journey they are taking together. This sets up conflict as a mere obstacle to be overcome as a couple, instead of a sign that they're not right for each other. Viewing love as a journey sets your relationship up for success, leading to better outcomes down the road.
So much of self-sabotage is caused by the frame of mind you embrace, consciously or unconsciously. Believing in soulmates that are made for each other, perfectly unified, is a set up for failure, according to this study.
Other frames of mind are inherently self-sabotating as well. For example, perfectionism is a wicked set up for self-sabotage. In a perfectionist frame of mind, if you don't do something perfectly, you feel like an unworthy failure. And...it just so happens that nothing is perfect. So, you are doomed to failure before you even begin because of your impossible frame of mind.
The soulmates concept may be the relationship version of perfectionism. The soulmates frame of mind presupposes:
1. We were made for each other - like a glove custom tailored for a hand - so we should always feel at ease, never be insecure and always feel super close to each other.
2. We are unified - so disagreements shouldn't happen. We should feel the same way, believe the same things and always act in alignment with each other.
Not gonna happen. Not when two mortal human beings are involved.
So, when disharmony inevitably occurs in the soulmate context, self-doubt, loneliness, fear, anger and extreme disappointment are soon to follow. The relationship is being sabotaged by normal and inevitable events that have been disallowed by the soulmate frame of mind. This is automated self-sabotage at it's finest.
If you view your relationship from a journeymates frame of mind, suddenly you can relax about a host of issues that are inevitable yet outlawed by the soulmates frame of mind.
If you are on a journey together, it is ok to disagree. It's ok to have different preferences and opinions. It's ok to like different things. As a journeymate, you'll do your best to accommodate your partner, ask for accommodation, work things out and stay on the journey together.
Most of all, there is nothing in the journeymates model that suggests conflict shouldn't be happening. You are free to focus your efforts on working things out (or not) without becoming scared that something horribly wrong.
If you have a journeymate, you can have clear boundaries, enjoying each other's company and loving each other in all your unity and your difference.
Journeymates is a frame of mind that allows for greater depth and breadth to any relationship.
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