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Devil's Advocate: Do Soulmates Exist?

Yes - 57% - Sairaa Bains

Soulmates are not all stuff of fiction drawn from Disney films and fairy tale hokum. Soulmates exist - not in the saccharinely romantic way but more so in the deeply-ingrained-connection kind of way. The definition of soulmates is not as simplified as “opposites attract” or like-minded people come together. It doesn’t share the same emotion as a teenage crush or answer to any shallow yearnings. Having a soulmate refers to a permanent bond that surpasses the callous rituals of temporary situationships, crushes or changes of heart. That said, a soulmate can be anybody, a friend from kindergarten, a family member, an acquaintance, or a romantic partner. A person can also have multiple soulmates – but the criteria isn’t so loose that anybody can make you feel that way. Soulmates are defined by a deep-rooted emotional intimacy and cannot be mistaken for an everyday mundane occurrence or a weekly love affair. It doesn’t do to confuse love with the same emotion that a soulmate may elicit. Both are tough to define but they do not feed off of each other.

There is no definite mold that a soulmate should fit into or abide by. Rather, soulmates carve their own space, inspired by their idiosyncratic qualities and depending on the intensity of their bond. Most of the time, encountering a potential soulmate gives a person a feeling of familiarity - be it an uncanny resemblance or a sudden slip of tongue. It requires a strong intuition to feel this resonance or some kind of telepathic connection with somebody. There’s a reason why we hear people telling us to listen to our ‘gut feeling’. It’s all about the energy and vibes that emanate from an individual. Just because the existence of a soulmate triggers emotions which are hard to verbalize doesn’t mean their presence is a farce. If the existence of a soulmate relies on such myopic viewpoints, begging for scientific reasoning, there may as well be no religion or any kind of higher power. Everything cannot be broken down and expected to converge into a logical explanation. As if the human race hasn’t dissected everything to death already. Sometimes you need to look beyond the material realities and standard facts of life. Finding a soulmate is not always about finding ‘the one,’ as everyone makes it out to be. It’s more about building an ethereal connection that was always half-way built.

A soulmate brings out parts of you, of which you were previously unaware. It’s an appeal to your entire worldview – one that is not limited to love but stretches across time and place. To borrow from Freud’s theories (not all of his theories are that far-fetched, which explains why we study him so much), these could be parts which were concealed and prohibited from resurfacing. Soulmates know and understand each other due to a predestined connection which is what resurfaces when you meet them, causing déja vu or intense familiarity. That doesn’t mean you are dependent on and cannot live without a soulmate. Of course you can. The entire notion of twin flames or even twins stem from their profound similarities (both physical and emotional bonds) and appeals to a similar soul-mate like connection – one that has been developed from birth. Whenever something horrifying happens to one twin, the other feels it without even being explicitly told. Once again, this is an ingrained sense of telepathic knowledge about the other. Even with soulmates, you feel more than you can decipher both consciously and unconsciously. It’s an otherworldly feeling which can be comprehended but only to a certain degree. Parts of us are difficult to fully understand and these are the parts a soulmate brings to light. But regardless of the incomprehensibility of the situation, what you do understand is that the profundity and intensity of the bond does not diminish with time and circumstance.

Yes, meaningful relations are built and love is created but with soulmates you simply have this connection without having to work too hard to construct its high walls or run the extra lap to meet it. Soulmates exist on the blank unreadable spaces, present yet absent. They need not be found or intimately loved by you, but that doesn’t cement their non-existence. Soulmates exist, but could only appear in your life as a subtle taste or a passing feeling you experience but cannot dissect. It could be a person you brush shoulders with but never get a chance to fully know or a person who’ll always give you that uncanny feeling of having known them for life. Soulmates are inexplicably drawn to each other but there’s no saying they end up together. Soulmates could be both your forever and your never, but (trust me) they exist. You might not meet them, but you will cross them.

No - 43% - Alex Beckett

The notion of a soulmate appeals because it reassures. This idea, as radically whimsical as it is, proposes to the loveless that at any moment they could stumble upon the person who is to make their life the haven that it is not in the present moment. This idea is, bluntly, utter rubbish. To persuade you of this fact, I am going to demonstrate that the fantasy of a soulmate is, on the contrary, amongst the most fearful and horrifying conceptions of love a rational (or, indeed, irrational) thinker could ever conceive of.

To guide you down this garden path towards right and proper thinking, we must coalesce along the same wavelength with regards to one question. What is love? Firstly, it’s difficult. Life, as we know it, makes the cultivation of love no simple task; misfortune, the tumbling of time, and human contingency must all be taken on and, what is more, overcome in order to succeed. Secondly, it’s dangerous. Enormous, and ever expanding, is the assembly of poetry, paintings and literature that highlights the threat to life that love poses – Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and swathes of Shakespeare’s oeuvre are iconic examples thereof. Finally, given the concoction of these two facts and human feebleness, (true) love is awfully rare.

I think up to this point everyone, including soulmate-ists, shall be in agreement with me. The clash comes next: are embodiments of love to be found, or to be constructed? A self-identified capital-R Romantic myself, were I to wander through the alpine forests — starving and demented — and stumble seemingly perchance upon the love of my life, surrounded by wolves howling Hairspray’s ‘I Can Hear the Bells’ and the glimmering beams of precious gemstones, I would be ecstatic. For a number of reasons, this obviously will not happen: I don’t frequent the Alps, I’m well fed, and I’m not (yet) demented. Furthermore, knowing my luck, were I to encounter a fellow wanderer in this way — so much more extravagant it is than the typical post-1am-pub-close spiel on the greatness of cash and the rhetorical power of the late Reverend Ian Paisley — they’d either be celibate or, worse, vegan.

In fact, and it pains me to say this, but love – at least for the Romantic – cannot be ‘found’ amongst people. Perhaps it has always been an impossibility. Just think about it: big picture, we’re discussing World War III and the necessity to avoid nuking each other; smaller picture, we practically have nuked amorous matchmaking, by relegating it to the algorithmic machinations of dating apps from which no genuine love can emerge, given the vitality of chance in any relationship worth having. How likely is it, do you think, that entering into this tragic scene, a given protagonist shall uncover their succulent portion of love served on a tempting platter of happenstance? Nil.

Hence the need to fight and to work. Love is a creation, requiring a productive force of some description. There are obstacles to this, mentioned above, but as humans we have the agency to bypass them. In World War I film 1917, whose plot involves two young, lower-ranking British officers, Blake and Schofield, transporting a written command across perilous terrain to prevent the deaths of thousands of their comrades, the production of love is masterfully incarnated. There is evil: enemy mines are laid, superiors’ egos go unrestrained, and mercy is recompensated by betrayal. Ultimately, though, the protagonist Schofield persists against all odds for the sake of his friend Blake. Thereby, two chaps – who in another time could have simply walked past one another on an inconspicuous English street corner – became divinely intertwined in the other’s life, and only because of their willingness to construct something actively with the other. To construct actively the good, the right, and the beautiful in spite of life-terminating risks; otherwise, one cannot find what is not there.

Hence the horrifying and destructive nature of a belief in soulmates. We all want to ascend, to depart from the cold and dark cave of solitude and mediocrity. At least, we tell ourselves that we want to do so. Yet, to tell ourselves that it comes down merely to ‘finding’ the person who shall liberate us obliterates our inherent freedom to choose whom that liberator is and to endeavour to build something meaningful with them. After all, if at the beginning of 1917 Blake and Schofield shook hands and exchanged thanks, acknowledging their pre-determined transcendental bond, it would seem senseless, meaningless, and – excepting clairvoyance – excessively presumptuous. Just as it would in romantic relationships. Love comes only through the repeated affirmation and exercise of mutual desire. The notion that only a miniscule elect of predestined partners possess the capacity to do so is frightening, it’s potty, and it should be anathema to us all.

Photo: Unsplash

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