“I don’t believe in soulmates, and I don’t think that you and I were destined to end up together. What I do believe is that we fell in love and that we work hard for our relationship.” – Monica Gellar
When we were kids, Gail and I were stupid and idealistic. I’ll pause so you can gasp.
We used to talk about this theory we had, where there were many people on this earth that could be increasingly right for a person on a scale of one to ten. You could get along alright with a seven, better with an eight and have a lifetime of happiness with a ten. Then, there was the eleven: your perfect match, or soulmate. It was stupid and we had an excuse for believing it. We were fifteen. Plenty of adults, however, still believe that there is one perfect person for them and I’m willing to stand up and say that they are wrong.
I’m not going to lie. I enjoy the notion of a soulmate in my smut novels and even the occasional chick flick. Nothing beats a paranormal romance where everyone has a destined “mate”. How fucking nice would that be? There would be no strangers trying to drag you by your wrist to the parking lot of the cowboy bar, insisting that “it’ll only take a minute.” There would be no awkward meetings with men you met online who make jokes about how your master’s degree isn’t a real master’s degree. There would be no heart-wrenching, soul-sucking divorce. A close second to the paranormal “mate” is Instalove. Erotica and romantic suspense are known for Instalove. Hero’s been speaking to heroine for all of nine minutes and already she’s said something so astounding or given such a delightful laugh that he’s a changed man. He can’t place his finger on it, but six days later, we all know: it’s loooooooove. In reality, it’s been nine minutes, I’ve already made one inappropriate joke and it’s a good thing he’s in loss prevention and not construction, because clearly he cannot measure for shit: 5’8″ my ass. If he dares to say “I love your laugh”, I snort in disbelief and blurt “Really? Cuz no one else does.” True story.
The reason romance novelists write about “mates” and Instalove is because we women were raised by Disney and fucked over by reality. More than once I’ve expressed my desire for an arranged marriage, because my daddy sure could pick ’em better than I can. The idea of just knowing he’s the one, without the risk that he’ll take off with your Gramma’s jewelry or torture your pets… sa–woon. But that’s all it is… a big girl fairytale. Here’s why. Quick. Describe Anastasia Steele’s character without mentioning her physical appearance.
I couldn’t do it either when Jennifer Armintrout made the original challenge. She’s… um… a pushover? Way behind in modern technology for a girl who just graduated college? Sexually repressed? Name some of her hobbies other than British literature.
Drinking? Pushing her friends around? Insulting all women ever? Feeling insecure? Sure, this is a product of piss poor writing. E.L. James mentions Anastasia’s love for art in chapter one, but then on the honeymoon has her declaring that she doesn’t really know anything about art, so I’m not sure if I can or cannot include that under hobbies. My point, however, is that any character in a book or a movie is a pale comparison to an actual human being. For example, I’ll describe Gail’s character without mentioning physical appearance.
She’s tenderhearted and loyal to an obnoxious fault, sticking by people who fuck her over, yet somehow still managing to be shocked and hurt when they fuck her over again. Despite this lack of caution, she’s beyond paranoid in all other aspects of life. She’s intelligent, with a dry and dead-panned sense of humor. She would wear house shoes and sweats to a wedding without embarrassment, as long as it wouldn’t upset anyone, because her greatest fucking fear is rocking the boat. She’s irreparably damaged from the death of her infant daughter, yet this somehow has not affected her love and kindheartedness toward children. She has a deep-seated urge to mother and protect, which positively consumes her around the wrong people, resulting in exhaustion and resentment.
I’ll name some hobbies without mentioning road head.
Gail is fascinated by finance and legitimately finds Dave Ramsey attractive, because of his radio show. She listens to rap music and can sing it… poorly. She enjoys finding ways to give to charity and loves her job delivering mail… for some fucking reason. She likes crafts of all kinds, even if she’s bad at them and this girl is so into current events, I swear she masturbates to the news. She adores feminist literature almost as much as she likes arguing with me and engaging in e-slap fights about it, because it’s okay to rock the boat when people she doesn’t know are in it.
That’s a real person. No. That’s a blurry Polaroid snapshot of a real person. Real people are complex and multi-faceted individuals. All of them, including the people we’re dating. This soulmates horseshit encourages the idea of having a “type”, which is completely counterproductive to the dating process. We’re supposed to be getting to know new people and trying new things, but instead we choose one or two exceptionally narrow aspects of who we are and buy a painting to match the sofa with no regards to the love seat or the rug.
I like books, guns, pretty pink dresses, college football, fishing, shopping, and sewing. I’m the librarian who swears like a sailor… in prison. I could be with an accountant who was captain of the academic team in high school or a police officer who played football. As I’ve said before, good budgeting skills bring this girl to the yard and he’s not a real man if I’m the better shot. Limiting myself to only one or the other aspects of my personality… IS STUPID. I might find out the cop is more fiscally responsible than I am and the accountant can nail a headshot on the first try. Furthermore, those complex people? They change over time. Fifteen years, three kids, two dogs and a mortgage later, that funny sweet man you fell in love with may now be hardened and sarcastic and sometimes even cruel. He may be a drinker with unrealistic standards for you and your kids. The delightfully old-fashioned chivalry he displayed at 25 may have morphed into an expectation that you will organize the fridge just the way he likes it or there will be hell to pay. Real love takes commitment and vigilance to grow together and treat each other well. Your “soulmate” just punched you in the kidneys nine years into your marriage. Rethinking that soulmates theory, now? Or is he just not it anymore?