Ask Abby, Lifestyle

Ask Abby: In the search for soulmates — do we only get one?

Dear Abby: I’ve been thinking about it lately, and the dating pool is just not what it used to be. I haven’t felt a strong connection with someone in a long time. I’ve had a few good past relationships, but maybe it’s because I’ve exhausted my soulmate limit. How many do I get anyways? I hope I haven’t used up all my chances.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist


The term rolls off the tongue so easily, despite how big of a concept it actually is. But how strange is it that we have a term to accurately describe this idea that only one person in your lifetime will have the key that properly opens your heart?

A situation similar to your own came to fruition just a few days ago while I was there to witness it. I had been riding the T to work, and I noticed two hands that were sharing the same pole were layered neatly on top of one another. 

I watched as the pair held on to each other through each twist and jerk of the tracks, and when the conductor jammed on the brakes, I expected the happy couple to slip and slide like the rest of us.

Instead, I watched the man hug the woman close to narrowly avoid a treacherous toppling over. 

“Don’t worry I’d never let you fall,” he jested. 

Cute, right?

That’s when I heard the million dollar phrase slip from her lips: “You’re my soulmate.” 

Getting off at Hynes Convention Center, I couldn’t help but wonder — with all the amazing people we intertwine our lives with romantically, whether it’s a crush, a fling or an actual relationship — are we only ever allotted one true soulmate? 

What constitutes a “soulmate” anyways?

Though there are a few differences in the verbiage, if you asked any old person walking down the street what they thought a soulmate was, they’d probably give you the most generic response known to man: “someone who is meant for you.”

It’s something people at the altar vow — that the person they’re standing across from is the one that is meant for them to spend the rest of their life with, but if that were really true then they wouldn’t have invented divorce, now would they?

Don’t be mistaken though, believe it or not, I actually think soulmates are a thing, but my definition varies a bit because I think there’s a lot of people who were meant to be in my life.

The popular belief

Everyone loves love, whether they know it or not. It’s a natural human instinct to want to be desired by someone, and in the back of everyone’s mind, I feel that there’s this belief that somewhere out there is a person who is their one true pairing.

That person checks all the boxes and fills every expectation. 

Some people have luck finding this mystery person, get married and live happily ever after. Other people think they’ve found this person, get married and eventually get divorced. Maybe they’ll remarry and then divorce again. Or, maybe they just end up living with their eight cats in a studio somewhere. 

The world works in strange ways.

But in the midst of all the stereotypes, I have to ask: Where do you think this person that we’re all so desperately searching for is? Why do we so often feel incomplete when we’re without them? 

I don’t think it’s a stretch to presume there will be a person that crosses your life with whom you are deeply compatible with — but I do feel that it’s silly to presume there will only be one of them. 

The thing about dating histories 

When I thought back to the interaction I saw on the train, I couldn’t help but think about this woman’s dating history. Do you think this is the first person she’s ever claimed to be her soulmate? 

In reality, what makes anyone we’ve ever loved romantically so much different from the next that we ultimately decide they are set to be our soulmate?

Don’t lie. If you’ve been in a relationship at any point in your life, there was probably at least one moment where you thought the person you were seeing could be your soulmate –– even if you didn’t say it out loud. 

But we know, sometimes from experience, that things just don’t work out with someone we’ve loved. Does that mean they just weren’t our soulmate? Or simply just the runner-up in the contest for our love?  

I wouldn’t say that because I don’t think any one of us is bound to be tethered to only one person in our life. This is not to say that if you’re in your first ever relationship, things won’t work out. Rather, you can and will find this kind of connection in so many different people. 

My perspective: You have millions of soulmates 

If you ask me, I think soulmates are wherever you look for them. 

Yes, sometimes they’re found in romantic partners, but they’re also all around us.

They’re in that best friend you grab coffee with once a week, the roommates you spend long hours awake at night chatting with and the guy you sit next to in class and have a humorous banter with. 

They’re also in the people who fill your empty flower jars and the people who have taken care of you and watched you grow.

Soulmates are in every person who has ever made you feel alive, and when you realize just how many of those whom you’ve had in your life, the world seems to feel a lot less lonely.

You are your own soulmate 

Let’s get one thing straight: If we’re talking in terms of relationships, realistically not every person you’re going to date is going to be your forever soulmate (even if they are for a brief period of time) –– but I don’t think that means they didn’t serve a purpose at all in making you who you are today.

If anything, they’ve prepared you better for the next person you go on to see. Whether things ended messy or neat, each one will leave you with more knowledge than what you came into the relationship with.

But here’s the thing: the one commonality between the many dictionary definitions of a “soulmate” is that they all include the idea that this person has a deep, personal understanding of the other. 

So, I ask you dear reader: Who knows you better than yourself? 

I think that makes us all our own soulmates — and how empowering it is to know that we don’t need to keep up this long, strung-out search for the thing we already have?

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