I have recently been reading about the concept of “one-itis” and the belief in soulmates and, whilst I agree that people need a harsh dose of reality when it comes to settling down with or holding out for “the one”, I also believe that a more balanced argument could be presented.
So, here is my essay on soulmates and the laws of probability.
For starters, let’s differentiate between soulmates and “the one”. “The one” is an abstract concept. It allows for much confusion specifically because people want it to. Your evil ex was “the one”, but your best friend’s sweet dead girlfriend was also “the one” and that girl your cousin met on holiday in France was also “the one”. It needs to be abstract and intangible so people can justify obsession. It’s usually the sort of relationship where you “just knew” they were “perfect” and that “it would last forever”. You don’t need to quantify or qualify it, d***it, they were the one! Or, basically, “the one” is shorthand for “I’m not sure I should have left this relationship, as I still wonder about what could have been”, or, even simpler, it’s shorthand for “regret and pining”.
On the other hand, “the one” is used to mean “the one for me”, implying there is one and only one human you could ever spend your life with, it’s just you haven’t met them yet. Again, you don’t need to qualify or quantify; when you meet them, you’ll “know”.
A soulmate is a more flexible, yet more specific concept. Firstly, you can explain what makes a soulmate. You may have a list of absolute requirements and a list of preferences and a soulmate meets all of these. If they didn’t meet all of them, they wouldn’t be a soulmate. If you could improve on them even slightly, then they are a good match, but not a soulmate.
Yet soulmates are, as mentioned, a bit more flexible. They needn’t be perfect at first, or cause you to “know”. There is always the option that someone you are yet to become familiar with could be a soulmate. They may make you discover that some of your preferences weren’t preferences at all, or that some of your requirements were actively stopping you from meeting the right people.
They’re more specific, but there’s more wriggle-room.
And now I’ve made all the “soulmate” and “one” believers go “aww”, it’s time to draw in the reins. You know that soulmate? Well, how many people do you think meet every requirement? It’s not just one. No, it’s not everyone either, but it’s definitely not one. So, let’s look at my requirements objectively. They will be listed alongside a percentage and a number. The percentage will be based on the total global population. The number will be the number of people with that quality. However, I will take my second percentage and, therefore, my second number from the previous number, rather than from the full 7B, to narrow it down.
Race, European. Yes, it’s a requirement. I’m too narcissistic and prejudiced to want anyone but a Caucasian person. So sue me.
16.43% of 7 000 000 000
1 150 100 000
Seeing as I’m straight and want to reproduce, let’s narrow it down to Caucasian men.
8.215% of 7 000 000 000
575 050 000
Now, I wouldn’t really date someone younger than me, but, despite my belief that 10-15 years older is the “sweet spot”, I have personal issues regarding dating someone that much older than me. Instead, I prefer men around ten years older at the most. So 20-30 year olds.
5.9% of 575 050 000
33 927 950
Without going into politics and starting even more of a debate when the race requirement can more than handle that on its own, let’s just say he should be a minority party voter.
As 3rd party candidates rarely get more than 3% of vote in the US, let’s use 3% as our ballpark.
3% of 33 927 950
1 017 838
Not married. This is an important one. He needs to not have already committed to a relationship.
Ignoring the bias towards men and women taking traditional paths and marrying young in this group, also ignoring those that are taken, assuming all unmarried are single, we shall just go with the average marriage rates for Caucasian, Western men. 23.5% of men married, 76.5% not married.
76.5% of 33 927 950
Upper 30% in terms of looks. Any less is not really possible in terms of sex.
30% of 778 646
Alpha. 27.9% is the largest estimate and allows for any debate as to what exactly constitutes an Alpha to be ignored.
27.9% of 233 594
Worked out around 5% of alpha men willing to settle down and be monogamous at this stage in their lives.
So that’s 3 259 potential soul-mates already.
Now for the things I couldn’t find stats for:
They’d have to look and act fairly like I do. I am very narcissistic. Someone too different to myself in terms of appearance, even from the upper 30%, would be hard to feel a passion for. This is probably the primary motivator for the race selection too.
They’d have to be non-aggressive towards me, but aggressive/sociopathic toward the rest of the world. Again, I like people who are like me, but I like people who like me. Someone who enjoys an almost locked-in relationship and who can cope with my bouts of introversion or need for social recovery is important. Someone who I can share my misanthropy with and who will be able to agree with and add to it from their own personal experience is someone worth keeping around.
They’d have to want children. I want a large number of children. If they don’t want them, the relationship just wouldn’t happen.They’d have to feed my narcissism. Narcissism either grows and thrives or collapses and rebuilds itself. Some narcissists enjoy the confrontation of the collapse. Others enjoy resting in their own stability. Due to other personality traits, I couldn’t live with someone whose life-goal it was to destroy my narcissism.
They’d have to be willing to engage in debate. Not just banter or small-talk. We’re talking prescribing of contraception, Ayn Rand, whether modern humans are more sociopathic than humans before, the potential of an afterlife, etc. Things that get people riled. They’d have to engage unemotionally and calmly. Yet they’d have to generally share my beliefs, or be willing to reach consensus. Again, I am a narcissist. I can handle criticism of my beliefs and calm conflict over them, but I won’t like it. And I’d rather be with someone who I like interacting with. Which includes debate. They’d also have to be willing to play Devil’s Advocate if I want to continue exploring an area in which we have already agreed.
They should enjoy spending time with me. A lot of time. Someone who meets all these requirements could quickly become the only person I want to interact with. Whilst my social requirements are few, it could be quite a burden to someone who likes seeing their partner only late at night, or a couple of times a week.
And they’d have to do all the above off their own backs, without being a doormat. I want someone who would do it if I never mentioned it and indeed, who does many of these things before I mention them. I don’t want someone who capitulates. That’s weak and weakness disgusts me. And believe me, I can tell.
Physically, I am happy to conform to anything for a person like this, bar surgery. I am happy to share my hobbies with them and engage in theirs. Many aspects of my personality are flexible and I enjoy enough of a range of things to embrace whatever I need to.
Finally, they’d have to love me as I loved them: fairly unemotionally, yet passionately and for everything they are and I am. I couldn’t deal with someone whose love was 100% or much over 50% unconditional. I couldn’t deal with someone who loved me reluctantly or dutifully. I want someone who genuinely adores what I am.
So definitely not “the one”. Probably not even one in a million. But it’s safe to say there’s around 750 of them out there.
Now I’d have to meet them before they became married or I became too old for children. And meet them properly. I generally dislike humans and keep interactions to a minimum, so for someone to catch my attention they’d have to either be vying for it or engaging in something I found interesting.
What I’m saying is, there are enough of them out there that there’s a chance. But that chance is 0.0000107%. Still, that’s assuming all humans, across the world, have an equal chance at talking to me, at making an impression. Maybe with a bias towards people I would interact with, eventually I could narrow it down to one of them? Yet it doesn’t always work like that. Our social circles are based around interests, but also needs and obligations. We don’t only interact with people we like and we don’t meet everyone we could like. We don’t necessarily only like the sort of person we would date. We have people we like interacting with as friends who never will be dating material. We have a limited amount of time to dedicate to other people every day and we must spend some of this on keeping up appearances, maintaining friendships, sorting work, talking to family and arguing with strangers online. In reality, many of those 750 could die before I met them. Many could be brushed away due to business, or decide to marry someone else, or not marry in the time it takes. As it takes several weeks for me to decide if a human is even worth continuing talking to and several months for me to consider them friendship material, then I may not meet any of those 750 at all before we’re both too old.
You aren’t “destined to be”. You aren’t “destined to meet”. You aren’t entitled to have one. There’s a chance that there really is only one person out there who could be perfect for you. And you may never encounter. If you wait for them, you may spend your whole life waiting. It’s up to you to decide whether sacrificing every sexual aspect of your life is worth it.
I managed to work this out years ago, when I was a silly seventeen-year-old. I realized that my chances of ever meeting a soulmate were stupidly low. Being the way I am, settling for less and burdening myself and my potential partner with that sort of a relationship just wasn’t an option. The very idea horrified me. Fortunately for me, I didn’t get to carry on with my mission to remain a virgin crazy-dog-lady and become a biker, painter, international journalist. I actually found someone who met my list of requirements and who meshed so perfectly with me, I found it hard to believe he existed for the first month of our relationship.
But I defeated the odds. I wasn’t pro-active. I didn’t go out and hunt him down. I just got used to the idea that I would never meet anyone worthwhile and suddenly met him. Getting lucky hardly counts when it comes to the reality that that was probably less than a one-in-a-million chance.
And, finally, the last stage of being soulmates. If you meet someone who meets the criteria, at the right time, who’s ready for a relationship and who wants you just as you want them to want you, the next thing that happens is when you become the one you want to spend your life with.
Not as in “the one” above. As in, you’re now one with them and you’d probably never be able to be with anyone else ever again. As in, other humans start looking bland and unattractive and they’re the only person you’re drawn to. As in, if they pass away of old age, you’re probably dying the next day to join them.
This isn’t something that “just is”, or you “just know” as so many people seem to believe. This is a perfectly natural, biological, healthy response to meeting and joining a soulmate. You have sex, you cuddle, you talk. Your hobbies and interests change, but they change together. You learn together and become more and more similar. You reach a point where you are so deeply connected by oxytocin bonds and the ribbons of time that you’re inseparable. That is what “the one” should be: someone who was pretty much spot-on and who you bonded with over time. A soulmate that withstands the test of time and just seems more and more perfect, day after day. If you have to fight desperately, call them back and beg them time and time again and eventually end up separate, you weren’t “soulmates”, it wasn’t “destiny” and they certainly weren’t “the one”.
If you find a potential soulmate, one of the 750, or 300 or 1000 or whatever it is for you, you may only properly meet them once. It’s worth getting to know them well, starting a relationship with them, seeing if it can go anywhere. If they truly are a potential soulmate, they may become a proper soulmate and eventually become the one human you want to spend the rest of your existence with. The others are omitted, not from day 1, but after years of bonding to that particular one you chose to be with. Hold onto them tight because there will be nothing better than this while it lasts.
So yes, there are soulmates out there for you. And yes, there is more than one, which does give you better odds. But I am agreeing with the consensus that eternally holding out for one may be a bit of a stupid idea. After all, if part of your life goal as a human is to have sex, reproduce and/or get married, then you need someone else for that. And if you waste your life waiting for the soulmate to waltz in through the door, then you’ll just end up bitter and disillusioned. Set a time-limit, try and find one if you’re desperate, but prioritize yourself over a currently-imaginary person you may never meet. After all, there may be 300 000 or even 1 000 000 people out there who aren’t quite your soulmate, but who could make you so happy you’d hardly know the difference.
However, unlike many of my fellow bloggers whose works I’ve been reading, I will add something. I am a statistically insignificant success story. But n=1 says that if you find someone as suited to you as Jon is to me, you will be happier to embrace them than if you rejected them with cynicism. So if you defeat the odds, find someone who is absolutely, measurably, objectively perfect for you, then have them. And don’t give them up. After all, they may not be “the one”, but they could always become the one to spend your life with. And will you ever meet another person like them again?