Millennials are living in a world of mixed messages. One day, we may watch a movie, listen to a song, or read a book about finding “the one” or about finding your “soul mate”. When we start dating someone new and see it as a potential new relationship, people ask, “Is this ‘the one’?” The next day, you may be out with friends and hear, “I don’t believe in monogamy” or “monogamy is so outdated”. How are we supposed to navigate dating, relationships, and even marriage with these mixed messages about love bombarding us from every angle? It seems impossible to take the leap from dating into a committed relationship if we are always thinking about the possibility of someone else. It is my philosophy that we do not have one soul mate, but we have many great loves of our lives who may impact us more or less based on at what point we meet them in our lives. However, I do not think that this gives us a “free for all” or a “pass” to cheat or seek out other relationships while we are in a committed relationship with a person. While soul mates may be a bogus term constructed by our society, monogamy is not.
I once went to a psychic in Chicago that told me that we each have seven soul mates. I know what you’re thinking: why am I taking relationship advice from a person who visited a psychic, and why seven? While I do take psychics with a grain of salt and seven appears to be an arbitrary number, I do agree that we may have numerous people in our lives that may be considered soul mates. I do not believe that there is one single human being out there in the world that we are destined to be with for the rest of our lives. If we are each only allotted one person who we could connect deeply with and spend the rest of our lives with, that puts way too much pressure on ourselves to find this unique person. With divorce rates in the United States being close to 50%, what should we tell those people? Well, better luck next time? Maybe your first spouse wasn’t your real soul mate; maybe you’ll find your real one next time. What if the “love of your life” dies unexpectedly from an accident or an illness, are you expected to not move on? While I do believe that the heart can move on to another person in time, I do not think that should discount the relationship that you had with your first love or spouse.
A huge aspect of what makes a relationship successful and long lasting is timing. Timing can be your best friend or it can be your worst enemy. You can meet an amazing individual who you could see a real future with, but if the timing is off, you may never know what that future could have held. Often times, people get married or enter committed relationships because the timing is right. You may be reaching an age that feels appropriate for you get married and start a family, and then you end up marrying the next person you date because they are on the same timeline as you are. That does not necessarily mean that this person may not have been a good fit for you otherwise, but being on the same timeline allowed you to take that next step in commitment that may not have necessarily happened if you had met five or even one year earlier.
While we all may have many soul mates and may or may not enter serious and long-term relationships with these people for a variety of reasons, such as timing and location, that does not mean that we should constantly be seeking out the next person or someone who may be a better fit. This new era of online and mobile dating that we have entered has caused our generation to have dating ADD or constant “FOMO” (fear of missing out) about dating. Why settle on one person to date when I can go on my phone or computer and look for another option? How are we supposed to enter these relationships if other potential dates are constantly in our faces? Many of us have lost sight of why these dating sites and apps exist in the first place: to find love. While some of us may initially be on a site to hook up or casually date after a break-up, at the end of the day, it all comes down to finding a person who you may end up clicking with and possibly enter a relationship with. Or else, what’s really the point?
It makes me wonder if it is difficult for Millennials to admit that we are looking for love. Are we afraid of admitting that we really do want monogamy in a world where we are told to live it up while you are young and date many different people at once? Monogamy is not a new concept, nor do I think it is outdated. Human beings have evolved to seek out monogamous relationships to start a family with for thousands of years. We are wired to look for one person who shares the same values as we do, have had similar upbringings, sees the world in a similar way, and of course, who we are attracted to. Studies show that people live longer and healthier lives if they are married, especially for men. In fact, some research shows that if you are in a long-lasting and happy marriage, you may be at lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
It is time that Millennials start changing our attitude toward monogamy and long-term relationships. They are not the enemy, they will not fall into our laps when we turn 30, and they are not outdated. There is so much more that goes into being in a monogamous relationship besides fun, excitement, sex, and adventure. While all those aspects are fun while dating and even throughout your relationship, being in a monogamous and long-term relationship is more about companionship. Our generation falls on two ends of a spectrum regarding intimate relationships: one end overly-romanticizes it by using the term “soul mates” or looking at characters from movies to identify what a healthy relationship looks like, and the other end is overly skeptical and believes that monogamy is outdated and impossible. A balanced perspective is what is needed here. Monogamy is not necessarily finding your soul mate, and it is not impossible. It is finding someone who is worth sharing your life with. It is finding someone who is the same kind of weird that you are. It is someone who you can see yourself having babies and growing old with.
I urge our generation to view committed relationships in a more realistic and balanced way. If we set out into the unknown and scary abyss that is the “dating world” to search for our soul mate, then it puts way too much pressure on us. Nobody is perfect and no relationship is perfect. If you put monogamous relationships on a pedestal and refuse to commit to someone unless it is perfect, then you may be setting yourself up for disappointment or heartbreak. With that being said, I do not think that people should settle and lower their standards just to be in a committed relationship. Our standards should be realistic. Every relationship should have key ingredients such as mutual love, respect, chemistry, honesty, open communication, and so forth.
Millennials, it is time that we forget about this idea of your one, perfect soul mate while remembering that monogamy is possible. While these concepts may seem to be unrelated, they actually are. We live in a society of black and white thinking: if one does not exist, then it must be the other. If soul mates do not exist, then committed, long-term relationships must be bogus. This is so not the case. Just because you have the potential to fall in love with numerous people in the world, that does not mean that it is your life’s goal to go find all of them. When your intuition tells you that someone you meet is worth getting to know and worth putting the time in, then trust your gut. While the world is filled with many amazing people who you may connect with, it only takes one of these people to sweep you off your feet and fall madly in love with. It only takes one of these people to fill your life with joy, happiness, love, and fulfillment. Find one of these people who fills your life with these qualities, and do not let that person go.