The One or Soulmates Myth
Of all the irritating fluffy pseudo-psychology or pseudo-philosophy myths out there, this one takes the cake. People who say they don’t believe in religion still think that the “universe” has given them one person. If you believe in evolution as most people say they do, how in tarnation could you possibly believe a random universe would match you, little random person, to just one special person?
As far as Christianity, there is nothing in the Bible saying you are assigned one specific person. Most marriages in the Bible, because of the time period, would have been arranged, and the Bible is very clear on the personal responsibility of staying with the marriage.
I wonder if some Christians or “Christians” confuse the predestination of all things by God as meaning they are assigned one specific person. Um, yes, the one you marry, everything you do is preordained whether you agonize or not. God knew you were going to marry that person. He didn’t say go out on a journey finding THE person (especially not using, returning, discarding other people along the way), the person you marry is who God saw you marry. Clear as mud?
This myth seems to be a great excuse not to make up one’s mind and to use and dispose and generally treat other people terribly in order to find one’s soulmate. In those cases they don’t seem to have much a soul to mate with, so why bother?
I really saw this put into perspective when I was watching He’s Just Not That Into You and one character says to another about a married man, “What if he is the one for you?” He’s not, he’s married, that is your sign right there.
Either one of the girls on the What We Said Podcast mentioned in several different episodes how her mom mentioned that it’s really more romantic to choose someone rather than essentially have someone assigned to you. That is SUCH a good point.
While I think (know) that no one just has ONE person, I don’t think it is right to treat it like a lottery either. I’m all for personal responsibility and owning your choices. As one of The Minimalists on their podcast pointed out, the world probably has a selection of people you are compatible with. And you probably won’t meet every single one of those people (nor should you need to, you shouldn’t “try out” people like so many ice cream flavors), so find someone you are compatible with, choose them, and continue to choose them. That continued choosing, that is true love and commitment.
On a lighter note that still has depth to it and to hammer in my point on how much I love this book, the story of Jocelyn and Hugh in the hilarious A Tangled Web, points out the absurdity of this silly myth as well as the life-changing damage believing it can cause people to do.
Love at First Sight Myth
The “love at first sight” love is Eros or at least the beginning of it. Of course you can have instant sexual attraction and euphoria, certainly that can be a part of true love, but just because you have instant sexual attraction for someone doesn’t automatically mean it will turn into love. So I don’t think we should believe in “insta love.” Real love also involves friendship love and self-dying devotion love, and those don’t come instantly and those loves involve choosing.
Also, I think failure to realize the instant feelings for what they are can cause people to leave a relationship they previously committed to (“but I fell in love with this other person,” no you fell in lust) or commit to a new relationship before they really know the person.
I think this is why it is hard to find good love at first sight stories, most authors confuse attraction at first sight with love at first sight and so the stories end up quite silly. But the good authors take that instant attraction and deepen it with the story (or they may poke fun at it, or both; there are a couple versions of “insta love” in L.M. Montgomery’s A Tangled Web, some of which show how much wrong or hurt this thinking can cause or how a deeper relationship can develop, e.g. Peter and Donna, one of my fav couples.).
Types of Love
I think a lot of romance myths (The One/Soulmates Myth, The Love at First Sight Myth, Falling In or Out of Love Myth) spring from a superficial definition of love.
I think its useful to use the ancient Greek words for love since two in particular I learned as part of New Testament* understanding in church growing up (and I know Lewis writes about them in The Four Loves which I WILL get to one day). Also forgive any grammatical issues, I’m no Greek or New Testament scholar.
- Philia meaning brotherly affection (from what I understand the 4th term, Storge is similar, so seems repetitive).
- Agape meaning self-sacrificial type of love, let’s call it devotion.
- I think everyone knows of Eros as sexual love.
I prefer to think of Eros as passion in the appropriate sphere and lust in the inappropriate sphere. I know some people refer to lust as passion and vice versa, but I think its better to differentiate and have one positive and one negative. People often use Eros to justify a lack of self-control and cheating, and I think it’s awful to lump that together with something that is good and necessary in a relationship.
To me, a healthy relationship and marriage should combine all three.
- If you have affection alone, you are friendly, but not close.
- If you have devotion alone, you are related? Can you have this one alone without being blood related?
- If you have only the sexual passion, you will probably have a short lived affair.
- If you have affection and devotion, you are friends.
- If you have sexual attraction and affection you will have a short term relationship.
- If you have devotion and sexual attraction, you are missing friendship, you will have a long term relationship that is unstable (you stay together for duty and you’d sacrifice for each other, and you come together for sex, but you don’t enjoy being around each other like you should in day to day life) and not full and complete.
- If you have all three things, affection, devotion, sexual attraction, you will have a committed bond for a life of fulfilling love.
*On a tangent, in the Bible we sometimes lose a lot in translation, for example in the passage where Jesus is asking Peter if he loved him, Jesus was using the Agape word for love while Peter was answering with the word Philia until the end. Really deepens the story to know that.