The following post originally appeared on Diary of a Queer Spinster.
Perhaps you've felt it.
A strange mystical connection with a person you just can't seem to ignore. It's difficult to understand but it's there, instant, intense and vibrant. You hit it off right away and it's as if you've known each other your entire life. But then things start to get hard, really hard. And soon, you find yourself in more pain and heartache over this person and less of the love and laughter you used to have. But this connection. This connection. It's undeniable. It's cosmic. It's real. But the truth is, it's not good for you. And at some point, you need to let go.
"But how can I let them go? They're my soul mate. We are meant to be together forever."
Well this person could very well be your soul mate. But sometimes your soul mate's purpose isn't to be your one and only.
There's a bit of a disconnect when it comes to defining what a soul mate is. Often times it's romanticized as a beautiful long-lasting relationship between two people who love each other deeply. Maybe an instant friendship. But the truth is, a soul mate is someone who is not easy. They are not the person to spend the rest of your life with, and they don't always make the best friends.
In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert's friend Richard (a la Eat, Pray, Love), a soul mate is the mirror that holds up all of your flaws and shows you the things you need to change about yourself.
A partner is someone who supports you, who loves you for who you are, that person who you can wake up to in the morning and know you're both living your authentic selves.
This revelation about soul mates might be terrifying to you right now. But please take this as an offering of relief.
We all try to make sense of the connections we have. I've been in three intense relationships that brought me joy, shook me to my core and completely destroyed me. They were incredible strong connections full of love, discovery and wonderful memories, but they also brought along some of the most emotionally draining experiences I've ever had. There's the saying, "When it's good, it's good," and that may be true. But when being with someone makes you feel more and more disconnected from your own self-love, then it's not worth holding on to. Someone who doesn't get you or fit into your life moving forward, is not someone to keep close. Someone who holds you back in any way from becoming who you need to be is not someone you're meant to be with forever. We need to stop pretending like it's OK to stick it out because it's your soul mate. Don't stay and try to make it work. Chances are, the only way anything will get better is for both parties to work on themselves and often times the only way that can happen is if they both get away from each other completely.
Again, I'm not saying this to cause more anxiety; I'm saying this to bring relief.
There is something liberating in understanding that a person came into your life simply to show you something you needed to see and put you back on your life path. The reason why the relationship is so intense is because it forces you off course, thus creating no other choice but to re-examine yourself and change your life. A soul mate is a hurricane that rushes over you from off the coast, destroying everything in its path and blessing you with a chance for renewal and rebuilding.
I can't tell you how many times I've used "but we love each other" as an excuse to hold on to those people in my life. But it wasn't enough. And each time, something would spark in me to understand their true purpose and let go.
I look at the term "soul mate" as a role that multiple people will play in my lifetime, alternating and passing the baton from one person to the next.
Moving on doesn't mean the love wasn't real. It doesn't mean that the friendship or relationship you had wasn't special and wondrous and magical. It doesn't mean that you're both horrible evil people. But it can mean nothing unless you have a willingness to see what that person's purpose was in your life and what you now must do to utilize this experience to move forward.