We’ve all heard the soul mate lingo — from “He’s my other half,” to “She completes me,” and many other platitudes in between. But research is showing that those who believe their partner is their soul mate experience less relationship satisfaction than those who don’t.
It may be possible that believing you have found your soul mate is not all it’s cracked up to be. According to new research, there are two different kinds of perspectives on relationships. Some people adopt a unity frame and believe that their partner is their soul mate and they are meant for each other. Others have a journey frame and believe that relationships are a journey towards growth and resolution. Turns out that those who have a unity frame tend to have worse relationships than those who have a journey frame.
The reason for this is largely based in perception. Those who believe they have found their soul mate struggle more with conflict than those who see the relationship as a journey. With a journey frame, conflict is seen as productive and a tool towards the growth of the relationship. People with a unity frame see conflict as unsatisfying, as it doesn’t fulfil their understanding that their partner is perfect for them in every way. Basically, those who have a fairy tale view of their relationship may get derailed when things aren’t rosy all the time. Adopting a more realistic perspective and creating a journey frame could ultimately create a more satisfying and fulfilling relationship. So, how can you move towards a journey frame in your relationship?
See conflict as healthy
Conflict has a vital role in relationships and can be a tool for growth and learning. When we see conflict as negative, it is likely that the results will be negative. If we change our perception and see conflict as a way to allow the relationship to go deeper and a way to get to know our partner better, we will likely fare better during tumultuous times. Those with a journey frame tend to see conflict as a way to grow together, rather than disastrous.
Know your partner isn’t you (and vice versa)
If you expect your partner to be the same as you, then you may be in for a hard ride. All of us are different and have had vastly different life experiences. Those with a unity frame tend to believe that they and their partner are the same in many ways, and it might be a brutal wake-up call to realise that they are not. Creating a space for difference can be a good way to learn that you are both unique individuals within the relationship. People who have a journey frame seem to be more comfortable when they accept their partner isn’t perfect.
Learn from disharmony
Rather than seeing unrest in the relationship as something to change or fix, it could be constructive to allow it to teach you something. Disharmony can highlight areas within the relationship that may need some work. Whether it is a communication issue, a boundary issue or even a sexual issue, spend some time figuring out what this is telling you about the relationship. Often, these kinds of concerns are a magnifying glass on a particular relationship dynamic, so pay attention and find out what the discord is there to teach you.
For too long, we have been indoctrinated with media telling us that we need to find our perfect soul mate and, without them, there may be something wrong in our lives. Moving beyond this can take your relationship to a deeper level, possibly even creating more intimacy than there was before. Take off the rose-tinted glasses, see yourself, your relationship and your partner with realistic eyes and revel in the beauty of an authentic relationship.