Thursday, March 1, 2007

Do You Believe?

True Love. Soulmates. The One. I've always thought these things were a load of bunk, but every once in a while, I almost wonder.

See, I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books last night, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. It's about a man who marries his soulmate, has a family, and dies relatively young. That's where it starts. The actual story covers his quest through the afterlife to be reunited with his wife, because he heaven just isn't heaven to him without her. It's really touching, and totally appeals to my sappier side. On top of that, there's enough afterlife, supernatural stuff, and conflict to keep it from being too sickeningly sweet and/or boring. If you've never read it, check it out. And if you've seen the movie (with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr), trust me, the book is worlds and worlds better. This is definitely one not to miss.

So like I said, I've never put much stock in such ideas. I'm a pretty rational guy. I celebrate logic, science, and reason, and it's pretty hard to convince me of something you can't back up with a solid argument grounded in provable facts and evidence. In my head, the concept of the soulmate was created by the "God hates fags" crowd to keep their children celibate, repressed, and hopefully not knocked up. As long as you're dealing with rational adults, there are lots of combinations of people who could have a great long term relationship, given that they have the right relationship skills and put the work in. Makes sense, right? It's logical. As I've gotten older, though, I've seen some pretty inexplicable things.

The elderly couple that eloped after 3 weeks at just barely 19 who are now in their 60's and as madly in love as ever...

The friends who seem to be happier together than all the other couples I know and both claim they "just knew" when they met each other...

The ones I've seen meet, hit it off, and start dating who are so absolutely in tune with each other that it really seems from the outside perspective that they actually were made specifically for each other...

People who are willing to overcome any hardship to be with the right person, like my friend ReddieKim, who had a long distance relationship with her boyfriend for 6 years before finally moving in together in December...

Or even my parents, who met through a friend when they were going to school several hours apart and couldn't afford long distance phone calls or the travel to see each other more than once every couple of months, but did it for two years (and are still ridiculously happy, as I discussed here)...

These are just a few of the many examples I've seen. The longer I live, the more strange coincidences like these I come across, and the more I wonder if maybe they're not so much coincidences, at least in my more emotional moments. Most of the time, I'm still good old rational LMNt, but every once in a while it almost seems that there're no other explanation for such things that makes sense. I still don't know what I believe in this arena, but I know I'm probably done making fun of the people who get married super early because they claim to "just know." Even if I bought the concepts hardcore, that's probably still not my style, but I'm not going to say "never" because I've never been in such a situation.

I guess I just wonder sometimes if it's possible...

What do you think?

21 comments:

Pagan Marbury said...

The first time I met my guy, I got a little shiver. I didn't get to know him- he left for grad school- but when he came back we hung out a lot with mutual friends. We were both with other people but got really friendly.

We used to joke about that first meeting- he told me he remembers checking me out and having a "moment"- but it was all said as friendly fun. It wasn't something I gave too much thought.

Then 5 years later, we were both single, and he manned up and kissed me at my birthday party. We've been together 3 years.

I never believed it before, and I don't believe it happens to everyone. If you are looking for a soulmate, you will see signs everywhere because you want to see them.

You seem like such a great guy. Just relax and it will happen.

DCWeddingPhotog said...

I believe!

Lisa said...

I've recently come to the conclusion that people should just get married in their twenties. Things get more and more complicated relationship-wise in your thirties.

KassyK said...

I believe. 100%. If you loved that book you MUST read The Time Traveler's Wife. Its beautiful and is about crossing through time to be with someone you love. Its amazing.

My parents are an example of those who knew and my ex is someone I "knew" was the one. A year after our breakup (after almost 7 years of being together)...we are talking again bc neither of us is able to move on.

Sometimes there is that love. Its beautiful and painful but its possible.

I am a fairly cynical person but in terms of that soulmate--yes, I believe in it.

Jo said...

Oh I definitely second the Time Traveler's Wife. I was sobbing when that book ended.

Anyways, I believe that certain people can feel like they're made for each other, but not necessarily soul mates. My folks will have been married for 30 years this July and although they're madly in love, it hasn't always been that way and they're complete opposites personality-wise. My boy and I were friends for two years before we even started dating but now I hurts to even imagine living without him.

What I'm trying to say, rather verbosely, is that some people just fit. But you have to be in the right place at the right time.

LMNt said...

Pagan -- You misunderstand. I'm not looking for that, just wondering if people think it exists or not. :-)

DCWP -- Clap your hands if you believe!!!

Lisa -- You're a smart chick, so I'll do what I can to take that advice. I don't have much time left, though. I'm totally single and turn 28 this month.

Kassy -- Ok, that's 3 "I believes" and one "cynical" (Lisa :-P).

Jo -- Interesting perspective. So in your mind, "fit" would be like halfway between the "soulmate" and "no way?" I'm not sure how to count that in the tally. :-/

Heather said...

Of everything I believe in, love is at the top of the list. I also believe marriage is a choice, you choose to live your life a certain way. It's been my experience (in 3 years of marraige) that marriage takes more than love.

Here's some science on love for you:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/02/14/love.science/index.html

nicole d. said...

My parents met at a party. When my mom saw my dad again, in a church, shortly after, she said to her cousin, "I am going to marry him". And less than 2 years later they married on Valentine's Day. Its a lot to live up to since they are still very much in love 39 years later. But it makes me believe too.

Ryane said...

I think that there is nothing rational about love. Seriously. Not that you can't be rational while in love, or rational with the person with whom you love, but the act itself--the falling, the wonder, the completeness...it's simply not rational, it's divine.

And so, having said that--yes, I do believe we humans have soul mates. I guess I just don't know, at least now, if I think that we all only get just one. I think some couples are lucky enough to meet 'one' and stay together, while others drift apart. But that doesn't mean they weren't your soul mate...

sgnc said...

I don't believe in soulmates, because I believe that you can fall in love and "live happily ever after" with more than just one person (not living with them both at the same time, obviously, unless you are a practicing Mormon :)

I also think that things were alot simpler "back in the day" and that people then were also possibly less picky than we are today?

There was a really good article in the Washingtonian last month (Feb) that featured some inspiring stories of five or so different couples (in the local DC area) who've managed to stay together through thick and thin. You should check it out, if you haven't.

foxysavant said...

absolutely.

I'm surprised that the sappier side of you hadn't already come to the conclusion that it's possible. I'm as literal and logical as all get out (oh no, that's the NC creeping in) and I've always believed. And how can you like The Princess Bride without believing?

I will say that I think people claim that it has happened a lot more than it actually does, though.

also, kassyk is right--The Time Traveler's Wife is incredible, and the effects of reading it indelible. It is such a moving story. Read it, definitely.

Kristin said...

I do believe. I also agree with sgnc's statement that you can fall in love and live happily ever after with more than one person; I just think that there are degrees of "happily."

Tilly said...

I never understood what it meant when my friends would say, "You just know." I was with my ex for 5 years and we planned on getting married and I was happy with him and knew that we could make it work, but I always had doubts and it was so much WORK. In my current relationship, we met on the train and made eyes for months before actually speaking. I moved in last month. We just know.

Jo said...

I meant I'm on the borderline on this one. There's not just ONE person for everyone else, otherwise your soulmate would probably be in China or India statistically speaking. It's not a soulmate exactly, it's how right for each other each person is.

Just like you meantioned of your friends who seem "made" for each other, the true test is if they grow together and are still made fore each other 25 years later.

ジェネヴィーヴ said...

So what if you find a "soul mate" and then you're not with them. Does another one step in? Like on Buffy and she dies and another slayer takes her place.

Through my life experiences I don't know if I believe in "soul mates" though I do believe you come into contact with mostly the same souls from previous lives (yeah I believe in reincarnation).
I guess you just have to find someone you're really compatable with and hope for the best. -shrugs-

sgnc said...

If you think about it, it's kind of "glass is half-empty" idea in a way, to believe that there are only a few people in the world that would be a perfect "soul-mate." And, though I'm no expert on the subject (at all), I would imagine that one of the characteristics of couples who are able to stay together for the long haul is that they share more "glass is half-full" (or even overflowing :), because no matter what the difficulties they encounter, they'd believe that they could weather it through (kind of like the placebo effect).

Pagan Marbury said...

Jo makes a good point. I do believe there is more than one person out there for everyone. And I agree with the Artist Formerly Known as Prince (or whatever those symbols mean) that we encounter the same souls over and over through reincarnation. So you could be with the same person over and over, or you could encounter someone you used to be with but they aren't right for you in this life. I'm kind of a hippy-dippy sometimes.

LMNt said...

Heather -- I'm with you 110%. I've had a lot of conversations with friends about that one lately. Oh, and love the article -- I'm fascinated by how our brains work, especially in relation to romantic interactions. Thanks!

Nicole -- That's exactly the kind of story that makes me wonder sometimes.

Ryane -- "Divine" is an excellent description. Read the book. You'll love it.

SGNC -- That's the way I usually look at it, too. I tried to find the Washingtonian article on their site, but couldn't. Got a link? I'd love to read it.

FoxySavant -- I think as I get older and see more, I'm starting to think it's possible. And you're right that it's not as common as we'd like to believe.

Time Traveler's wife? Possibly this weekend's novel, if I have time for one. I know you and Kassy both have excellent taste.

Kristin -- Yeah, definitely many different degrees of "happy," and I'm not a settler. I think I have to have the deliriously happy version.

Tilly -- I believe it. Congrats on finding that.

Jo -- Yeah, a soulmate on the other side of the world you never meet would suck. But you're totally right, time is the true test.

Gen -- The more unsuccessful relationships I have (not that they weren't great at the time), the more "finding someone compatible and crossing my fingers" worries me.

SGNC Take 2 -- That's an interesting perspective. I'm definitely with you on the positive aspects of a "half-full" attitude, but I've never quite looked at it that way.

Pagan -- Hippy-dippy can be cool. You should check out the book, it deals with the reincarnation thing a little bit.

Trixie said...

i do believe in soul mates and that we have more than 1 soulmate in life.

Miss Scarlet said...

My sappy side so wins on this one.

Cris said...

I have a friend that met a great guy and told me they "just knew". Six months later they've broken up because he's a nit-picker (according to her). So while I believe in soulmates to a point, "just knowing" doesn't always equate forever.

And if soulmates are real, being born on another continent wouldn't keep you apart, so I wouldn't sweat that - I believe in a benevolent universe that would help both find a way to be together (how's THAT for sappy?)