Why Thinking You've Found Your Soul Mate Might Actually Be a Bad Thing
08 Aug 2014 •1 min read
According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers gave people who had been in relationships for at least six months either "unity" metaphors (we are one, my better half, made for each other) or "journey" metaphors (we've walked together, a long trail, look how far we've come). (There was also a group of neutral metaphors like "cross your fingers" or "drink like a fish.")
Then they were asked to recall “two things you and your partner fought over” or “two things you and your partner celebrated.” The results? "Participants who had to recall conflicts reported lower relationship satisfaction after exposure to unity than journey expressions." A second similar study produced the same results. According to the study's authors, thinking of someone as your soulmate can set you up for extra disappointment when you have an argument. They concluded:
"It may be romantic for lovers to think they were made for each other, but it backfires when conflicts arise and reality pokes the bubble of perfect unity. Instead, thinking about love as a journey, often involving twists and turns but ultimately moving toward a destination, takes away some of the repercussions of relational conflicts."
And thinking this way could actually leave you more likely to end the relationship when things aren't going the way you expected them to. Psychologist Benjamin Le (who was not involved in the study) told New York Magazine:
“There is research that shows that people who believe in 'destiny' put less effort into working through relationship conflict. The idea here is that if we are soul mates, then nothing will go wrong in our relationship, and it will be easy. A conflict makes a destiny-believer question whether the current partner is actually their soul mate, and then they give up on working it out.”
We understand looking at your partner and thinking "you complete me" or other super-romantic things...but what happens after the rom-com or fairy tale ends? You might find yourself extra hurt and confused if the person who is supposed to be your other half lets you down. The feeling that you were wrong about this person can be absolutely crushing. On the other hand, if you think of your partner as someone you'll grow to love more with each passing year, your disagreements and tough moments won't feel quite so devastating.