Protecting Your Heart From The Soulmate Lie

Sometimes our lies come with the best of intentions.

We aren’t always given false information by those wanting to deceive or confuse us. We aren’t necessarily being intentionally misled by some sinister adversary lurking in the shadows.

Sometimes the lies help shield us from the painful stuff in the world, they soften the jagged edges of life, they inject a little bit of wonder into the brief time we have here—a time that is so often lacking in it.

They untruths often come from a place of love and sweetness:

Santa Claus.
The Tooth Fairy.
The Easter Bunny.


That last lie is particularly tricky, because it’s so stinkin’ subtle and so seemingly beautiful.

It’s also the only one that we can walk through adulthood without completely jettisoning.

In fact, where the other myths fade as we mature and grow, the lie of “the soulmate” becomes more firmly embedded into the deep canyons of our hearts.

It begins as we soon as we begin to look for a language for our deep feelings (usually around middle school).

It reaches from Hallmark cards, Disney songs, Rom-Coms, and Teen Fiction, and it fatally and permanently skews our understanding of love and of what it means to be in union with another person.

The Soulmate Lie is so dangerous because of the Everest-sized expectations it sets for all of us, as we seek to find someone to walk through this life with.

It turns the search for that someone, into a once-in-a-lifetime, needle-in-a-haystack lottery, that we need to somehow magically hit—or forever settle for less-than.

As a result of The Soulmate Lie, we nearly kill ourselves seeking perfection from others, we become hyper-sensitize to people’s flaws, we cut bait and discard relationships whenever things turn less than ideal.

The Soulmate Lie keeps us perpetually in search of something better; that foot to fit the glass slipper, the cleft-chinned prince on horseback, the one whose kiss wakes us up from a dire slumber.

I’ve been married for nearly 23 years to my wife, who I met while we were attending college together in Philadelphia.

She’s smart and funny and beautiful and talented.
She’s my wife, best friend, sweetheart, partner in parenting, companion, and co-conspirator.
I’ve been wonderfully, irrevocably, and uniquely altered by her presence.
She’s absolutely the love of my life.

But she’s not my soulmate (which is perfectly fine for her, because I’m not hers either).

We both could have just as easily met and married any number of other people, and had fun, meaningful, enjoyable lives. We just wouldn’t have had this life.

As someone who has spent the better part of two decades ministering to young people, I’ve seen the damage done when we try to hold on too tightly to the Soulmate Lie; the way it makes us chase feelings and romance and ease and pleasure; the way it puts a phony, shiny veneer on real, irregular, unvarnished love.

The advice I give young people, especially those who are pursuing lasting relationships or marriage is this:

It isn’t magic.
It isn’t a fairy tale.
It’s not a love song.
It ain’t a Broadway musical.

Love is work. It’s daily, difficult, sometimes monotonous work, but more than that love is a decision.

It’s a decision to endure, and fight and give and forgive and compromise and not leave. It is a decision to stay.

A lifetime of fidelity doesn’t happen just because two people are “made for each other”. It happens when those two people make a choice to be faithful, and it’s in that choice that love is expressed fully. It’s a choice that trumps mood, and preference, and personality, and circumstance.

My wife isn’t my soulmate. She’s my sole mate.

We are sharing this life together, not because the stars aligned or because there isn’t another person on the planet who could ever love us or because God altered all of creation so that we could line-up in the same graphic design classroom in art school 25 years ago. (Can you imagine how awkward and difficult it would have been had we believed that back then?)

We’re sharing this life together because we chose to love each other; with all the mess, flaws, and failure that you get as the side dish of a main course of laughter, warmth, respect, and goodness. 

As you navigate the path of finding love and of committing to another person, don’t wait for someone who is perfect, wait for someone who’s all-in it with you; someone who knows how to stay.

That’s where the magic is.

May you find your sole mate.


17 thoughts on “Protecting Your Heart From The Soulmate Lie

  1. Excellent article John! As one who counsels others in marriage, the truth in this article must continually be restated. Thank you for writing encouraging articles on marriage! My wife and I will celebrate eighteen years in November

  2. I’ve never really understood what “soulmate” meant. When I heard people use it, I likened it to “spiritual but not religious.” A kind of non-committal commitment that would give them an out or a do-over if it didn’t go right. Good thoughts you have shared on this one.

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  4. Fantastic article, John! I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate your spreading these truths. My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary next week. As time goes on, it gets so much easier. Through the years we have allowed each other to be individuals and have learned to respect and appreciate what that uniqueness brings to each other’s lives. May you and your wife find increasing joy with each year of marriage. We certainly have!

  5. For the longest time, I believed there was no soulmate. I often doubted if love really existed, and if it led to anything other than lies and heartbreak.

    That said, the moment I met my girlfriend, I knew I would be with her, and I knew I had found the other half of my “soul”. She was exactly what I had fought for and struggled to find through out my whole life, and I could never imagine my life with another human being. We are like two peas in a pod, and she is my anchor, and has helped me more than I can ever find words to say. Life has thrown curve balls at us, but our relationship has only grown stronger and I have only become more convinced that she is the only person for me..I have never once had a moment of doubt.

  6. While I hold the author of this blog in the highest regard, I would encourage readers of this particular article to consider it only as the subjective opinion of someone who hasn’t had a soulmate experience and not emphatic truth. I personally understand the relationships of those who “choose to love each other” and I also know a bit about the relationships of those who are drawn together in a way that is, for lack of a better term, mysterious. Of course neither relationship is objectively perfect, but the latter can be perfect for those within the relationship itself. So while commitment should be a priority, don’t discount the possibility of having a soulmate experience, for I can promise you, there is nothing like it in the world.

    • I stopped believing in *sole* soulmates once I got over 50. I’ve had a lot of soulmates. And I’ve discovered they come and go. It’s the person who commits and hangs in there who really counts.

      In November someone told me he loved me…we were soulmates. By June of this year, I will be married to someone else. Why? Because my November “soulmate” didn’t commit to being together, and another man who loved me did.

      Feelings and limerence come and go. Showing up day after day is all that counts. No point in holding out for the ephemeral. Having a foot in two relationships is a one-way ticket to misery.

    • I agree with you 100%. John is spot on most of the time, but with this he missed the mark. John, please do research soul mates and twin souls/flames. There is a much bigger picture.

  7. I would not have agreed with this 2 years ago. I thought I was married to my soul mate. I would have staked my life on it. Till major life changes, interruptions, mid life crisis came along. I did everything I could to be what he needed through all of that but I did not stop a 20 year marriage from being wrecked by an affair. Now…….here I am with someone that has completely changed, and for me it’s a day by day thing. No one person can complete you. Right now, I’m learning for the first time in my marriage who my source of strength and love is. It sucks but at the same time, it’s a beautiful thing. Please if you read the pray for my marriage. I still love him.

  8. Thanks so much for this today… It frustrates me when others (usually single) look at my long-term marriage as something to be envied – that our life is all sunshine and unicorns… I AM truly blessed to be married to the man I call my husband – but it’s a day-in and day-out challenge (especially for him – I freely admit I’m often less than loveable) – but we get through, one day at a time.

  9. Thanks a lot for this one. I really loved this post. I appreciate it and I agree with it.

    I certainly could not avoid remembering Blair and Chuck’s relationship on the show Gossip Girl. That’s a real love story.

    That, as you described it, it’s real love!

    Regards from Venezuela.

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