We’ve all heard about soul mates—the ultimate, mind-blowing, undeniably meant-to-be relationship, the one and only partnership we were destined for. If you’ve found your soul mate, consider yourself blessed. If the effort you’ve been putting into finding the “perfect” mate, the one who will nourish your soul on the deepest level, is exhausting and futile, why not give the term soul mate a rest then and instead seek what the world is so abundantly ready to offer us: mates for the soul? They are all around us. We don’t have to go looking for them.
When we look for the soul in a mate we must first explore what the word means to us. This can be perplexing. We can’t see the soul. We can’t separate it from our essential being. How do we define it?
I believe the soul is defined in action, just as love is. We make our soul felt by trusting that it’s there – not just within ourselves but in the person we are seeking to love. Each of us has this enormous part in each of our beings that is sometimes unknown to us, and we assume it’s invisible to others.
We experience an enormous expansion when we recognise the soul in someone else. We know it ‘s a moment of recognition, because our hearts are open. We are suddenly sensing more and speaking less. These moments are always silent. If we can look at this other person and grasp that there is an extraordinarily deep place in each of us, then we can trust, give reverence, and touch that deepest part of them and ourselves. This gives us a glimpse of the truest meaning of love. Likewise, if we can trust the unknown in ourselves, then in that conscious, momentary embrace, we move farther away from the pain of being hurt.
We so often get in our own way when we focus on finding a single soul mate, rather than on the many mates for the soul that are out there. There are 7 billion souls on this planet. Certainly we would benefit by connecting on a soul level with at least a handful of them.
We thoroughly nourish our soul when we are grateful for the infinite possibilities before us. So here I offer you a partial list of mates for the soul. This is by no means the only list, but a great deal of conversation, reflection, and life experience went into the compilation of these types below. Think them over, and let the people you love know how special they are. Have fun!
The LOVE Mate This is that one in a million soul whom we love to mythologize as our soul mate, our one-and-only. We are not here to be gratified by a single great love, as urgently as we might desire one. We are here to reveal our souls to one another as freely and deeply and as often as we truthfully can. Even more important, we are here to serve and receive the efforts of others to reveal their souls to us. The truth is that there are many in this world with which we can make a deep and true love mate connection.
The WORK Mate We all have to get along in the workplace, but who is that rare soul who becomes our deep ally? These too are mates for our soul because, apart from love, it is work that most fulfils us in life. We are what we do, in the mirrors of our souls. To reach our goals at optimal strength, we need to have mates, companions who share not only our aims but the spiritual needs that drive us to succeed.
The INSPIRATION Mate This is a mentor. This person is generally a leader or teacher – though in rare and beautiful cases it is the exceptional student who inspires the teacher, owing to a soul connection. It might be a preacher, a counsellor, a great poet or novelist, painter or dancer or choreographer who inspires us.
The BODY Mate Also known as “Friendship with Benefits.” This is a sex partner with whom the attraction is or seems entirely physical, and your affair light-heartedly free of long-term expectation. Sex is an opening of the primal life force. Everything that is most private and essential in a person’s being is revealed in the act and in the afterglow. The reason we cherish these so-called purely physical relations is linked with a familiar adage of physical healing: The body never lies. In the act of physical love, we are restored to a bedrock truth that feeds our souls. We are learning about love from lust paradoxically and risk enormous confusion. This is a pleasurable risk, but we are wise to remember that we are courting the soul even when we think we’re just coupling our bodies.
The FAMILIAR Mate This is the animal in your life! We inevitably feel a soul connection to these creatures, some more than others, but when we bond, we make memories and attain heights of feeling that can nourish us for a lifetime.
The FRIEND-FOR-LIFE Mate This is the childhood pal, the college roommate who should have been a childhood pal, or the chance friend with whom we bond at an improbable depth later in life but to whom we hang on lovingly through thick and thin.
The SHADOW Mate This is our enemy, we think. We simply cannot abide this person, right from the first instant of meeting them. This is especially true if in every outer way we are supposed to be allied with them. The people who’ve introduced us were dead certain we would get on. Yet we shun them, oppose them at the top of our voices, work to undermine them, and suffer their efforts to undermine us.
Can this possibly be a mate for the soul?
Yes. As the Chinese sages teach us, this person is our “dragon,” our spiritual challenge, our deepest teacher if we can be large enough to rise to the opportunity. The main thing is to recognise that this is a soul connection.
Perhaps we’re looking at it backward. Perhaps, the one who got away was our soul mate, even though it didn’t work out. We were right for them, they were right for us but one of us just wasn’t ready. Perhaps neither of us was: Life is timing after all; we’re all free to make choices, but none of us is ultimately in control of these things.
You never know. On a rare occasion, your shadow mate so completely accompanies your journey in life, that if you can both hang in there, you each receive a catharsis and heal a core wound. It’s possible, then, that this person will turn into your Love Mate. And so our list comes full circle!