Monika and I have been friends since around the time we both started dating boys.
She met a man early on. A wonderful, insightful, mature and deeply dedicated man. She now has spent twenty years with him and she calls him her “soulmate.” Of course she does.
I have been married, divorced and spent the same twenty years with more than one man. Each extremely real, serious and final, thinking each time that perhaps this time I have found the one — just to feel the ache of a broken heart again.
Monika and I agree on most things in life. Our values always have been very similar. There is one thing only we have never agreed on: "Is there a soulmate for everyone or not?" We spent many hours discussing this topic. She believes that yes, there is the one. I repeat: “no, there are many."
Strangely though, in the last twenty years we both learned the same lessons. Here are five ways to see why we are both right:
1. Relationships End. All of them do.
I remember one day my boyfriend and I were fighting. Yelling in the kitchen, shooting hurtful words at each other. Standing there in that weird energy, our bodies tight, not much love around at all.
Somehow, the memory of the inevitable loss of previous relationships settled over my mind. "Listen," I said. "This thing, you and I like this, together, will end one day. Either you fall out of love, or I do, or in love with someone else, or you die, or I will go first… who knows? But I know for sure: this will end. So while it exists, why don’t we act civil and be nice to each other?"
We don’t really fight since that day. Knowing that life will end, every relationship will end, makes every day sweeter. And that is true. For me and for Monika as well.
2. Sex Has Never Been About Them. It’s About What We Really Want.
What is our deepest desire? What is our wildest dream? What are we waiting for? My partner will not read my mind or magically fulfill my desires. None of them will, fully and completely. Not until I know what I really want and communicate it clearly to them.
My degree of pleasure depends on me. I have to learn to share my thoughts and dreams. Can a long term relationship fulfill the need of variety? Of course. Exactly as much as a short term one can be boring after a week. It’s not up to them. It’s up to me.
3. The Depth of Love Has Nothing to do With the Length of It.
Many years ago, one night I was in bed with a beautiful friend. This act was the result and fulfillment of many months of longing and desire for each other. Every second of this experience was amazing.
At one point he looked deeply into my eyes, pointed his finger to my chest and then to his. “This is it. This is real. This just is.” And it really was. The deepest, most elevating, raw “love” I have ever experienced with a partner. Beyond passion, over lust, it was a physical, emotional and (yes, I’m not afraid to say it) a spiritual connection.
It lasted one night only, but it was real. The depth of this experience left me speechless, the memory will remain alive forever. I learned that night the I can be in love. Even this deep. This real. This raw and vulnerable. This was a "soul date."
4. Life Will Throw Us Challenges. Alone or Not.
Most of the important lessons in life I have learned through my challenges. The loss of a family member, leaving home early, being fired, lied to, or cheated on. Each and every one of these experiences taught me valuable lessons and I’m grateful for them now.
Sometimes I was lucky enough to have someone by my side to share the success or the pain. Other times I had to deal with them alone. Isn’t that how things are when we are in a long term relationship as well? Our partner may or may not always be completely available.
So why depend on anyone? The warrior is in all of us.
5. The Soul is Never Disconnected. Only the Ego Is.
As soon as we use the word "soul" we might want to remember that the soul (Atman) is the part of us that is always connected. It comes from a place of union and never leaves that place.
From the ego’s perspective however, (where our daily life is played out) everything is small, different, and disconnected. We may feel broken and incomplete.
On this journey of our emotional evolution, we come to a state where we will feel complete. With or without a partner. That is the level of the soul.
In the meantime, this is exactly what relationships teach us. Topics of dependence, co-dependence, independence, stories of attachment, detachment, and non-attachment. Love and grief. Truth and lies. We could never learn about these ideas alone. We are human. We need human connection.
Relationships are the best schools we can ever enter. Our souls are the shining stars of each others' universes. Sometimes peacefully circling around each other for twenty years, sometimes colliding and crashing in and out of space together.
I’m on the journey with you, and therefore I’m grateful.