Adapted from an article by Belinda Luscombe
Imagine if someone told you there is only ONE RIGHT CAR for you. Not one make, or model, but one ACTUAL CAR. They tell you once you find that car, you will be blissfully happy. If they don’t find THE CAR, or if somebody else owned it and didn’t want to sell it, or they inadvertently settled for an automobile that was not quite perfect, then the drivers might have wheels to get around, but they would be in some sense, stuck with a lemon.
Do you imagine someone could get you to believe such a crazy thing? What if there were a lot of stories about people finding their ONE TRUE AUTO? There could be songs written about it. Somehow get buyers to believe that it will come fully loaded, never run out of gas or need a mechanic. Imagine if we created a Tinder for cars, so people could browse globally for their exact specifications. Once found, there could be an expensive party where 100’s of guests could celebrate finding THEIR CAR.
If the car ever failed to make the driver happy, if it got a scratch or the seatbelt got stuck or that stupid brake light kept flickering, the car owner could offload it but would lose a lot of money on it.
In the same way, the search for your soulmate can make you bonkers. A soulmate is not a thing. This notion was created to sell movie tickets, books, songs and subscriptions on dating websites. The chances that you will locate, attract and bond with the ONLY person who is the ONE PERFECT MATCH for you in the whole world defies the odds of probability.
We don’t find soulmates. We become them. As we do, someone else is becoming ours. One of us is in the waves and the other on the sand and together we make the beach. (I am in Southern California as I write this). The beach is always changing as the wave glides to shore and back again. Sometimes the beach has a treasured conch and sometimes knotted fishing wire and seaweed.
Our partner does not make us whole. He or she is not going to catapult you into a different version of you, one in which you are always happy, or always on time or never make a mistake. Your partner does not solve your problems, in fact, they magnify them. Marriage was not intended to be bliss. When you get married you are saying: “This journey of life looks like it might be more fun with you.”
Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, has a theory about fixed and growth mindsets. A fixed mindset is one in which people believe their abilities and interests and intelligence are set from birth. A growth mindset is one in which people believe that interests and abilities can be cultivated. Those with a fixed mindset spend a long time looking for their passion or their career. Those with a growth mindset tend to work at things longer and build on them. Relationships, and especially marriages, require a growth mindset. You are not setting up your life with THE ONE, you are setting it up with SOME ONE. From there, you work on perfecting communication and adoration and appreciation of eccentricities.
Finally, it’s helpful to realize that nearly everything about your partner will, at some point, enrage you beyond reason. They won’t change when you want them to change. They’ll change when you don’t want them to change. The more that you get to know them, the more the things that charmed you in the first place will become the things that make you want to set your own hair on fire just to get away from them for five minutes. You don’t solve this problem by choosing the right person – although, for heaven’s sake, PLEASE select carefully – you solve it by choosing what you will do when the blinders come off and you realize that this may be the person who is going to be in your life for the rest of your life. “Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths,” wrote Mark Twain. “No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”