Soul Mates: Finding, Nurturing and Sustaining True Love
Considering all the romantic comedies and huge displays of candies, cards, jewelry, wine and flowers, the idea of true love is still alive and well in America. The concept of “soul mates,” the belief that there is a single, unique-for-us-partner-in-all-the-world, raises the stakes even higher, causing many to worry about whether their current partner is really “The One” or, if single, whether they will ever meet this fantasy lover and be fulfilled.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of positive psychological research that has been done in the past couple of decades, accurately predicting what really works, and showing us how we can improve our chances at finding, nurturing and sustaining true love.
Finding “The One”
According to Katherine Woodward Thomas, licensed psychotherapist and bestselling author of Calling in the One: 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life, “One reason that so many of us do not have the love we are longing for is that we have not yet become the people we will need to be to attract and sustain that kind of love.”
Many of us may hold unrealistic expectations about what love is, or have a long list of traits that we want in our partner so that no one person could possibly fulfill them. Some of us have past romantic and relationship wounding, which we still need to heal, before we enter a new relationship. Some of us are looking for love in all the wrong places, seeking connection without having done our own personal work first, to be able to exchange love authentically. And some of us think we know what we want in another, without yet having done the inner work necessary to love ourselves first. In other words, true love really begins with each of us becoming the person we are truly meant to be.
Nurturing Love (Healthy Connections)
The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions About Dating, Marriage, and Family, points out that our “attachment style” is another aspect to consider. This is how we relate to others and how they relate to us––often based on our upbringing and relationships with our primary caregivers.
There are certain people who always find themselves involved in relationship drama (anxious), whereas others tend to avoid relationships altogether (avoidant), and some people always seem to be in happy and satisfying relationships (secure).
Depending on our attachment style, this relationship theory suggests we will select partners that bring about familiar relationship patterns, unless we mindfully and carefully select a different way of interacting with partners, and develop a new attachment style.
Sustaining Love Long-Term (Keeping the Spark Alive or Passionate and Companionate Love)
Based on additional cutting-edge research, our old beliefs about soul mates and how to find and keep our long-term partners needs some serious updating. According to The Science of Relationships, people who endorse the soul mate-oriented destiny beliefs are more likely to see their relationships break-up. According to the research, we may be better off reviewing priorities to acquire a more realistic approach to relationships, especially if we want them to last a long time.
Growth theorists tend to put effort into resolving conflicts because for them, working through conflict is expected to some degree, and is part of what brings couples together. People who endorse growth beliefs also tend to be more committed to their partners and are more inclined to date one person longer than those low in growth beliefs.
Sustainability comes into play when people are more realistic in their assessment of themselves, their partners and the ups-and-downs that naturally occur in long-term connections. To maintain a long-term interconnection that grows and deepens over time, we must balance being stable and versatile, as well as willing to allow our relationships to change and grow over time. According to The Science of Relationships, passionate love is intense, all-consuming, and tends to fade over time. Companionate love, a deep love based on liking and intimacy, develops over time.
Love can last forever––typically by moving from intense passionate love to a warm and companionate love.
In conclusion, if “soul mates” exist, it’s because we choose to label our relationships by that term. While there is nothing wrong with believing in destiny or passionate love-at-first-sight, if we want a truly authentic love that really lasts, we would do well to maintain sensible expectations of ourselves and our partners, as well as to seek support from friends, family and other communities with whom we connect. True love is possible, if we are willing to give it the nurturing and active give-and-take it needs to flourish.
Lani is offering a workshop on Soul Mates: Finding, Nurturing and Sustaining True Love, at Happiness U (675 Auahi Street, 2nd Floor, Suite E3-205, Kaka’ako) on Friday, February 9 at 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Complimentary session, all materials included. For more information, contact Lani at 808-594-7950, email Lani@coPOWERment.com or visit CreatingYOURCalling.com.
Lani Kwon, MA, founder of Creating YOUR Calling LLC, provides clients with step-by-step tools and resources for life redesign. She has over two decades of experience in crisis counseling, teaching, public speaking and writing. Lani is also the author of The Creating CoPOWERment Workbook. She is currently working on Creating YOUR Calling: How to Discover Your Authentic Life Mission, due to be published in 2018.
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