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The Science Behind Soulmates

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AnaBella Lassiter, Arts & Entertainment editor

White horses, shining armor, victorious sword fights, and princesses normally come to mind when we think of love and soulmates and happily ever afters. However, what really is a soulmate? In addition to that, do they really exist? Some new voices have decided to join in on the conversation.

Spike W.S. Lee, researcher from the University of Toronto, and Norbert Schwarz, researcher at the University of Southern California, created a study to better understand the idea of “soulmates.” To do this, though, something needed to be established: what was a soulmate? Well, it turns out that there are two types.

There are “unity” soulmates and then there are “journey” soulmates. Unity soulmates are people who believe that they are meant for one person and one person is meant for them, and once they are together, everything should fall into place. On the contrary, journey soulmates believe that people develop into each other’s soulmate after going through obstacles and growing together in ways that promote the progression of the relationship.

Lee and Schwarz took these two groups of believers and put them to the test. If soulmates were to exist, this would be the chance to prove it. People were chosen off of the streets of Michigan who had been in a relationship for at least half of a year. They were given a short quiz and asked to recall some memories after they had finished the quiz up.

They were asked to recall two things that they and their partner either fought about or celebrated. Then, they were asked to report on the satisfaction of their romantic relationship. Lastly, they were asked how satisfied they were with life in general.

What did the results show? They found that those who had to recall two things they and their partner fought over tended to be less satisfied with their relationship. More importantly, these people who were less satisfied with their relationship were those who also believed in the traditional idea of a unity soulmate.

Lee and Schwarz continued this research by performing four more studies but on students at the University of Toronto. What they found was similar to the results in the first study. Those who believed in a unity soulmate tended to be less satisfied with their romantic relationship.

“Thinking about relational conflicts hurts more with the unity than journey frame in mind,” the study concludes. “It may be romantic for lovers to think they were made for each other, but it backfires when conflicts arise and reality pokes the bubble of perfect unity.”

So, as evident from the study, the question is not so much whether soulmates exist but which kinds of soulmates are ultimately successful.

Those who believe in a unity soulmate tend to have a rougher road ahead of them. But why? If you think the person that you are with is meant for you, and then an obstacle comes up, these kinds of believers have a tendency to simply leave their partner because they feel that person was not the right match. If they were the right match, the obstacle would not have appeared. For this reason, these unity soulmate advocates tend to struggle for that one love written about in fairytales.

However, journey soulmates have a better chance of not only existing but thriving. These soulmates believe that with time comes a closer bond and a stronger connection to someone who can evolve into their true love. Rather than abandon their partner on a bumpy road, they drive together until they both reach their destination as one. By doing this, they grow and strengthen a relationship that would have been thrown away had they believed the obstacle to be a deal breaker rather than a test of their love or determination.

So, next time you find yourself liking someone, do not wonder if they could be The One. Rather, wonder if you two have the potential to become one. Is there enough of them and enough of you that can intertwine and grow together into something unexpectedly wonderful?