Have you ever gone out with someone who was not right for you? I’m sure you have probably had that problem if you have any experience in modern dating. I tend to tell my single friends that compatibility is a bit of a myth. We tend to seek a soulmate or perfect fit to a partner when we date and become surprised when we don’t find it.
I know because I’ve been there too.
One of the main reasons for this difficulty has to do with ideals that are engrained into the American culture: If you have a hard time, then it must not be “meant to be.” In my office, I have heard variations of the desire for a good fit for many years. It usually leads people down the road of “all men are just in it for sex” and “women just don’t know how to let a man be a man” and many others like this. We start off with good intentions (a soulmate) which leads us to believe that our fit is bad when problems happen later.
When you choose a partner out of a “soulmate” lens, you set up expectations that love is instant and will automatically occur out of good intentions. This does not allow for growth or room for human error because it’s a black and white mentality. You are either my soulmate or you are one of those people I won’t date.
One leader in relational work, Gottman, states that love is an ever evolving concept that occurs through small moments of tuning into each other or stepping on each others toes. In a Gottman lens, we might see that a person can be a good partner for me AND that we can still have a hard time. Even if I step on my partners toes, I can make it better for the relationship through open trust and dialogue.
So be careful of ideals for perfection in the American culture and make sure you are looking for someone who is open to growing a person and as a coupledom. There are no perfect people, so soulmates are a bit unlikely too. So watch out for promises about soulmates and perfect matches… instead…allow your inner wisdom to fine tune it’s ability to spot what you personally need in love.
You might be surprised to find that ideals for love may not make you super happy.