How many times have you heard a loveable friend say the heart wrenching words,
“I NEEEEED a boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/life partner”?
During a conversation with Steve Inskeep aired on Morning Edition in 2012, the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman said, “to be loved, I think, is like, the thing that gets you up in the morning.” I agree with him to an extent. Of course, we all want to be loved, cared for and somewhat cherished. But hearing the desperation in my friends voice – a girl that is for the most part really cool and intelligent, by the way – made me feel thoroughly sad. My facial expression was not too dissimilar to this:
The friend sensed it. I’ve never been good at “putting on a face.”
The idea of LOVE, however you may chose to define it, is romantically installed in us from the word go. “Soul mates” sounds ever so lovely, doesn’t it? The idea that there is someone out there just waiting to be found (or for the lucky ones, found long ago) that will make our life complete and our entire being happy and fulfilled forever and ever until death do us part. Nice sentiment, sure. But is that really all the human race is capable of? Needing another whole person to complete another entirely whole person?
My opinion is, we shouldn’t need another human to make us whole. I’ve been ‘in love’, to the best of my knowledge*. It’s really really nice, and I’m in no way disputing that. But there is a lot of things in life which make us whole, and I don’t think that responsibility should be laid upon any human other than yourself. And what exactly defines a soul mate? Richard Bach says, “A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are.” Instead of falling over backwards in our attempts to find ‘the one’ that will complete us, searching hopelessly for the perfect person (if there is such a thing as perfection personified) and using up important time, energy and emotion in helpless feeble relations, perhaps we should look inside ourselves. What if we already own both our lock and key, without the need for a foreign object?
I like the idea that we may have many soul mates across our lives. Whether it be a best friend, a companion, a sibling or a parent. If you’re one of the lucky ones that has fallen in love with their best friend, and believe that they are the missing puzzle piece to your work of wooden art, I am very happy for you. There is nothing wrong with being happy in love. In fact, I wish it for all of us. But there is so much more to life and so much more to the world than finding a romantic love. Love can fill a gap, but no one can complete you but yourself.
*Love is many different things to many different people, and in my experience, you’re only in love with the person that you’re currently in love with. When that love dies and you find another person to love or another kind of love, the past love somehow becomes undermined or disappears at all. So can everyone ever really be sure that they are “in love”????? But that, dear reader, is a conversation for another day.