What even is the definition of a soulmate? Despite minor variances in verbiage, most will say that a soulmate is someone who is meant for you. Many will insist that a soulmate is someone you are destined to meet and be with. I agree, but I’m sure most of us can name an ex (or several) who influenced personal growth either through negative or positive behavior. In fact, I have never met a single adult who hasn’t met several people who influenced growth throughout their life in both their romantic and platonic realms. So, if a soulmate is just that, how do you pick and acknowledge only one? In short: you don’t.
As the child of two people who are amicably split, I can promise you that just because two people are meant to find each other for one reason or another, doesn’t mean they are meant to spend the rest of their lives together. My parents’ marriage served an incredible purpose, brought two lives into this world (including my own), and brought happiness to my parents for almost two decades. However, their union had an expiration date.
Does that mean they weren’t destined to meet? Does that mean that if they end up with other people, it erases the purpose of their union? Of course not. Their meeting was important for both of their lives (and mine), and their connection was fruitful and intentional. However, I’d also argue that their separation was just as important and teachable, and they are both better lovers for it. They were absolutely soulmates.
Choosing to believe in “happily ever after” and one true love waiting for you at the end of the rainbow is the easier option. On the other hand, I believe this way of thinking just handicaps us from seeing the many soulmates we all encounter throughout our lives and the lessons they have to teach us.
Let’s start with platonic soulmates. Think back to that friend who taught you what friendship really is. Think of that person (or people) who helped you establish the role that friendship would play in your life as a kid. What about that person that helped you establish the role friendship would play in your life as an adult?
Platonic soulmates are simply those we meet throughout our lives who help us grow our ability to love, be loved, be supportive, be loyal, and much more before ever involving romance into the equation. The Greeks call this love “phileo love” or friendship love. As we evolve over time, we meet people who help us re-establish these skills in each new chapter in life. Outgrowing these soulmates is natural and a normal part of the growth process. Outgrowing one or even a group of people leaves more room for you to learn from more people. These soulmates help us prepare for romantic soulmates.
Romantic soulmates are very similar as they teach us how to love in a way we have never experienced before. The Greeks call this kind of love “eros love” or romantic love. Eros love is a blend of phileo love and storge love (familial love) with added passion and desire. So naturally, finding romantic soulmates is like the “next level” for encountering platonic soulmates. Similar to our platonic soulmates, we may come across several lovers that help us establish what role eros love will play in our lives or help us evolve as responsible lovers. Outgrowing these lovers can be a bit more complicated and difficult than outgrowing platonic soulmates. But, regardless of how it feels, outgrowing romantic soulmates is just as normal and natural as outgrowing platonic soulmates. Without these lovers, we could never evolve into someone capable of learning from whomever we intertwine our lives with next.
Maybe the best way to comprehend what a soulmate is and a soulmate’s role in our lives is understanding that regardless of whether someone is here to stay for a while or just here for a season, they may still be here for a purpose. In fact, most people in your life will not be around for longer than a season or two. Romanticizing about one true love doesn’t change the facts at hand.
No matter who you are, there are several people in this world you will meet, learn from, and grow for the better from simply because their path crossed yours. Not every person you meet will be a soulmate. But those who make a purposeful and lasting impression are very likely to be a soulmate. Some will be your friend, some will be your best friend, and some will be your lover. Each will prepare you for the next. Each will leave you with more knowledge than they found you with. Each will add value to you in some shape or form, therefore adding value to your ability to exchange multiple types of love.
That being said, how many soulmates do you have?