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I don't believe in soul mates, and you shouldn't either

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer, lipstick enthusiast, aspiring yogi and diehard Wolverine based near Ann Arbor, MI. For more information, visit jennabirch.com or follow her on twitter @jennabirch.

I'm calling BS on soul mates

I'm a romantic. I believe in red roses and rom-coms, grand gestures and heart-to-hearts. I believe in fighting it out and making up, and that a man who brings you your favorite triple-chocolate gelato deserves the key to your formerly cold, cold heart.

Sappy? You bet. I believe in sappy. In grand, sappy, over-the-top, shout-it-from-the-rooftops romance. I just don't believe in soul mates. Ick.

Whenever someone utters the words, "I've found my soul mate," (*ahem* The Bachelorette *ahem*) I cringe a little on the inside. It's not that it's too sappy. Remember, I'm all about sappy. I just don't believe you have a one-and-only that you're simply "meant to be" with forever and ever. That mentality can set you up for failure in your relationships.

According to a new study from the University of Toronto, men and women who look at marriage as the perfect joining of two people who are destined to be together have lower relationship satisfaction than those who look at marriage as a commitment to journey through life together and grow as a pair.

To test this, researchers gave participants surveys about their feelings on relationships. Those who made more associations between a relationship and unity (that a couple should be "made for each other" (or someone's "other half") generally had fewer celebrations and more conflicts than those who put stock in a relationship taking work ("love is a journey" or "we've been through so much together," for instance).

I may be a romantic but I am also a realist, which means I know there's more than one guy I could build that life with. Realistically, there are billions of people on the planet. What are the odds there's just one you could grow with forever?

The soul mates mentality will have you defaulting to the idea that your relationship is indestructible. You may not work on hashing out your problems as much, or work on growing together as a couple. Before you know it, you don't know your partner and you can't remember the last time your relationship gave you joy. (That's a bad scene, folks.)

Ultimately, I believe marriage and commitment are the ultimate acts of love, not the perception of following your destiny. Making that commitment to a relationship is saying, "Out of the billions of people out there on this planet, and the thousands I could probably be happy with, I choose you." And then you work on maintaining that love every day, growing together and sharing a life.

In my opinion, that's not a soul mate; that's a partner. And that's pretty darn romantic if you ask me.

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