The Myth of a Soul Mate?

Why searching for “the one” might be a distraction.

“You’re gonna make a good wife one day.”

I can still taste the hot, humid Texas air in the attic where I stood when I heard those words from THE boy. I was a sophomore in high school, and Gabe was a senior. We’d become good friends through our church’s youth group, and I’d developed a covert crush on him.

I stood there agog for at least five minutes.

Today, I’m 3,000 miles from that small Texas town, sitting in an apartment on New York City’s Upper West Side. While the modern, urban woman in me can easily scoff at the blatant, misogynistic quality of a boy telling me I’d make a good wife, the 15-year-old girl in me still gets chills.

Ten years later, his prediction has yet to be tested. At 25, I’m still very much single. But I’m not the only one.

A generation confused by marriage

United States Census Bureau statistics show that from 1960 to 1997, the average age of marriage raised by four years among men (from 23 to 27) and five years among women (from 20 to 25). Stephen Nock, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, reports that one-third of Americans who will marry have yet to do so at age 35. It seems as though marriage has been placed on this generation’s collective back burner. When young people today talk about their future, chances are they talk almost exclusively of their career. Marriage and a family will just have to fit in somewhere down the road.

But the increasing value put on having a successful career isn’t the only reason why we’re getting married later and less often. Our understanding of marriage itself is undergoing change.

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, told Ken Myers in the documentary Wandering Towards the Altar, “The single most important shift in marriage has been the shift away from the common understanding of marriage as the formation of a family household, a new productive and procreative social unit, towards the understanding of marriage as a couple’s relationship oriented to fulfilling the emotional and spiritual needs of two adults.”

And what fickle things emotions are.

Christians aren't immune

Christians are not unaffected by these realities. We may strive for a biblical understanding of marriage, but it’s clear that we’re not all that sure what marriage should look like. After all, our parents are just as likely to be divorced.

And so we’re waiting—waiting for the person who will provide a love so strong that it will warrant commitment. We’re waiting for some sort of assurance that we won’t end up a statistic. We’re waiting not for a spouse per se; we’re waiting for a soul mate. A recent Rutgers study indicates that 94 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 29 agreed to the statement, “When you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost.”

So, how does one search souls for a mate? My grandma once said, “You have to get deeply involved with someone in order to find out if you’re soul mates, and if you’re not, you’re already deeply involved with that person.”

“Good Christian kids” might not be having sex with prospective mates, but all too often they rush into emotional intimacy, offering up themselves—thoughts, hearts and dreams—in the hopes of finding that elusive soul mate, leaving a trail of broken hearts.

The mistaken idea of "soul mate"

Wading through my share of this emotional carnage, I wonder how much our desire for a soul mate is informed by our modern visions of love—complete with the lavish wedding—as opposed to the biblical lessons about love. John the Apostle wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Sacrifice and perseverance consistently characterize biblical descriptions of love, including romantic love.

Dave and Heather Moffitt, 29 and 30 years old, have celebrated seven years of marriage. After getting engaged, Heather moved to Louisiana to pursue her graduate education while David stayed in Pennsylvania. They planned to marry the following summer. But the distance and the long engagement were a strain on the relationship, and Heather began seeing another man.

“I got involved in a relationship with another guy in grad school and began to question even my desire to get married at all, especially to Dave,” she said. “It was largely a spiritual crisis about wanting to do my own thing and control my own life. About six weeks before the wedding, Dave came down, and we talked to each other and my pastor before I decided whether to go through with the wedding. Ultimately, I felt like marrying Dave was the right thing to do, spiritually as much as anything else. If I didn’t marry him, I felt like I’d probably leave the faith. So I went ahead with it. But I don’t think I really fell in love with Dave until after the wedding.”

You Might Also Like

Heather’s last-minute indecision did cause Dave to consider calling off the wedding himself. But he committed the matter to prayer and was convinced God did indeed want the two to marry. “I’m not really sure what the term ‘soul mate’ means,” he confessed. “Before marriage, you don’t really know if it’s ‘the one,’ and afterward, you’re in the marriage relationship and so you have to live in that commitment—that person is ‘the one.’ So I guess I don’t think that concept of ‘soul mate’ really helps us at all. As a Christian, the point of a relationship is to live as Christ to that other person.”

Heather is also skeptical of the concept of a soul mate. “Just like some notion of sexual compatibility isn’t the basis for marriage, neither is some notion of soul or personality compatibility. Both are components within marriage, but not the foundation. Dave loves me in an honest, Christ-like, faithful way, and as a result of that love knows me better than anyone. The notion of ‘soul mate’ doesn’t capture that.”

Perhaps the security of a marriage is not based on the strength of the feelings of love, as the search for a soul mate would seem to suggest, but that it stands or falls on the character of those who come before God to say words like “forever” and “forsaking all others.”

This article originally appeared in RELEVANT magazine.


Zaire Krieger


Zaire Krieger commented…

Ah well, a mail-order bride it is then!

Tim Chan


Tim Chan commented…

Where did the notion of a soul mate come from anyways? I went to Google to find the answer (and Google told me that Wikipedia had the answer). Apparently, Plato came up with the idea (waaay back when the earth was flat). He introduced it in The Symposium where one of his characters tells the story of how humans originally had four hands and four feet, and a single head with two faces. But the god Zeus feared the might and strength of these humans and split them in half, leaving them to spend the rest of their lives searching for their other half or ‘soul mate’ to complete them.

More of my thoughts on the topic: "Stop Looking for a Soul Mate"

William Jorden


William Jorden commented…

Hello Ladies, Please Take A Few Minutes And Enjoy My True Stories About The Wonderful World Of Key Lime Pies As Well As The Magic Of The Most Beautiful “Mrs. Anita Pelaez” Wife Extraordinaire And The Beauty Queen Of The Key Lime Pie World! “Oh”, What An Honor That Must Be.


Blues Here, How Are You All Doing? That’s Great, I’am Just Setting Here
Watching “Major Crimes” On The Tube. Pretty Good Show. Wouldn’t You
Just Love To Be Eating A Nice Big Slice Of Anita’s Key Lime Pie As You
Two Lovers Are Snuggling There Watching The Show? Then You Two Love
Birds Can Get Into Each Others Drawers After this Episode Goes Off.
That’s Sure What My Love A I Are Contemplating As We Eat Our Second
Slice Of Pie. Well Eat Your Hearts Out, Better Luck Next Time!

“Ah”, Yes, My Little Chickadees, May Each One Of You Enjoy Your Very
Own Key Lime Pie Baked by The Lovely And Most Gracious,…Mrs. Anita
Pelaez and Her Handsome Husband ….Captain Kutchie Pelaez. Together The
Proud Owners Of Asheville’s Own

Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory And GRILL Conveniently
Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate In That Beautiful City. Known
As Heaven On Earth Whenever Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Anywhere Near. “AH”,
The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her KEY LIME Pies. Voted The Country’s
Favorite For The Past 27 Consecutive Year!

…..That Babe Can Bake Me A Pie Anytime She Wants To.

Elwood Blues

Turn You’re Ladies On In Extra High Heat Mode Easily Just By Seducing
Her With “Anita Pelaez’s” Ultra-Sexy Key Lime Pies! You Know The Pies
That Her And Her Famous Husband Kutchie Have Been Baking The Last
40-Years Over Too Their Key Lime Pie Factory Near the Biltmore House and
Estate In NC.,..Yeah, That’s The Ones, You Dirty Mind! Shame On You.

Anita’s KLP Will Light Her Candle And Make Her Hard To Handle.
Guaranteed That She Will Get A-Hold Of You’re Handle Too….Your Boy
Elwood Says,….”AH”, The Magic Of Anita Pelaez ..And Her Key Lime Pies!
“Yeah”, You’ll Be “AH-ING” Too!…Put Your Faith In Anita’s Pies.

Is what they are all saying true about how eating those World Famous Key
Lime Pies Baked In The Carolina Mountains By The Former Miss Florida
USA And High Fashion And Swimsuit Model …”Mrs. Anita Pelaez”, ….Surely
Everyone Has Heard Or Read By Now That Consuming Her Wonderful Key Lime
Pies Has The Ability To Cause The Male Penis Length To Increase 50% Or
More. And The Girth Of The Erect Male Penis To Increase To Six-Inches
AROUND!….”WOW”, And Add To The Fact That Her Pies Have Been Known To
Make Males Multiorgasmic /One Orgasm One After Another With Little Or No
Reflationary Period In Between Ejaculations Is Nothing Short Of
Awesome!. Why, It’s A Miracle If You Ask Me.. ..You Can Count Me In On
That,… That’s For Damn Sure!,….Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Surely The
Undisputed Queen Of Key Lime Pies That’s For Sure……Yes, There Was A Time
For Decadent Key Lime Pies And That Time Is Now At…..”Anita and
Kutchie’s Key Lime Pie Factory And Grille’, Conveniently Located In
Asheville, NC., Near The Biltmore House And Estate….Yes The First Lady
Of Key Lime Pies,..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” States “For You’re Pies Only”.
…Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..Thanks,….Elwood.

I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As
Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well,
Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At
The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your
Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A
Happy Man. End Of Story.

People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex Then You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies!

…One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

Henry Kim


Henry Kim commented…

"they planned to marry the following summer. But the distance and the long engagement were a strain on the relationship, and Heather began seeing another man."

This is an issue on her part in regards to her trust and faithfulness to her fiance.

ben foreman


ben foreman replied to Henry Kim's comment

I agree! If 6 weeks before the wedding she was still unsure which guy then there is some issues. I would have broke it off and never looked back



Lora commented…

I've heard people talk about how they were so sure God wanted them to be together, and how God was so clear that they should marry each other...and then they got divorced 5 years later. Or 8 years later. Or 10 years later. The idea of a soul mate seems to make people believe that marriage should be easy with that person. When in reality, I think you can choose (wisely) who you want to commit to...and then work on that commitment for the rest of your marriage.

Please log in or register to comment

Log In