Are Soulmates Real?

biracial couple snuggling in bed

Leah Flores / Stocksy

It all began with the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He once surmised that humans weren’t vessels with two arms, two legs, and one face. Instead, we had four arms, four legs, and two heads. Joined from joint to joint with our perfect match, we wandered earth intertwined with one another.

That is, until the Greek god Zeus decided to split humans in half, punishing us for our egoic nature. We were left to face our prideful pitfalls, roaming the Earth with the hope of finding the half of us we lost. Thus, the concept of soulmates was born.

There isn’t one definitive authority on an idea that is equal parts folklore, science, and psychology. But, there is compelling evidence that suggests soulmates, in one form or another, are real.

Myth Versus Reality

Beyond Plato’s musings, the idea of finding our one forever love continually permeates our culture. Beginning with Disney films that many of us see as young children, we are taught there is a definitive relationship for us, one that may fulfill all of our needs. While there is harm in believing one person can do all for us, there is merit in having romantic beliefs like the concept of soulmates.

A study conducted in 2016 on 270 young adults found those with romantic beliefs were more likely to experience greater satisfaction and commitment within their partnerships. Interestingly enough, romantic beliefs weren’t connected to unmet expectations, meaning that the development of romantic beliefs doesn’t equate to having impossibly high expectations.

So, are soulmates real? Depends on who you ask. “The reality of this concept is subjective, as opinions on it vary,” explains Elena Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in sex, relationships, and intimacy.

She continued by expressing the layers of this concept, with some believing in just one true soulmate forever or multiple soulmates throughout a lifetime. “The truth is, finding someone to share your life with is a delicate balance of compatibility, trust, and shared values,” she stated. 

Considering the nuanced nature of soulmate ideology, we were eager to hear what another relationship therapist might say about this idea. “I believe that we create our soulmates when we meet individuals who are willing to enmesh their lives without hesitation or complications,” shared Erick Nunez, Los Angeles-based licensed clinical social worker.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t hardship in this type of relationship. It means there is a deep willingness to find a way forward together, by any means necessary. 

The One? Or More Than One?

I recently asked a close friend of mine who is happily partnered if she believes in the idea of soulmates. After a brief pause, she explained that she believes she’s had multiple soulmates at different times in her life, that none of us have a static identity, and that as we evolve, our mates do too. 

“I often think of ‘the one’ as an individual that someone is willing to compromise for, willing to hold [themself] accountable for, and is constantly desiring,” explains Nunez. Following this logic, there may be many people we are willing to compromise for, with that changing throughout time as our ideals, needs, and values change. 

I believe that we create our soulmates when we meet individuals who are willing to enmesh their lives without hesitation or complications.

Bahar expressed a sentiment of releasing a tight grasp on the exact idea of what a soulmate is, highlighting the importance of realistic expectations. “Whether you believe in one true soulmate or not, the key is to keep an open mind and heart as you navigate the dating world,” states Bahar. 

The Science Behind Our Mates

Part of the magic of connection is our pure primal attraction to another human being. This chemistry has a scientific component that may surprise you: body odor. Each human’s unique scent can aid us in relationship development, allowing us to detect a healthy mate, moderate our sexual drive, and increase our sense of security within a relationship.

This information indicates that our attraction isn't random and science inevitably influences who may fit into our life as a soulmate connection. 

A Different Type of Love

I took the concept of soulmates to my nearest and dearest friend. She briefly considered her beliefs on the concept before swiftly stating, “Well, you’re my soulmate.” I was surprised, realizing my viewpoint on this concept was one-dimensional until that point. Her statement is factual—we met, and something instantly clicked into place.

We have found our way through conflict with tact and care. We have managed to live together, travel together, and cheer each other on through our wins and losses. With over a decade of kinship under our belts, I have no doubt we are in it for the long haul. Her words illuminated a key component that is often overlooked in favor of romance: platonic soulmates.

“A platonic soulmate is a person with whom you share a deep, meaningful connection that is not romantic or sexual,” expressed Bahar. She continued by explaining that these relationships can be just as impactful and long-lasting as romantic soulmates. 

Curious about the certain platonic chemistry that fires off in friendships, I consulted some literature. According to a 2022 study published in the journal Science Advances, we can also sniff out friends from foes. This study found that friends tend to smell more alike than strangers, and we are more likely to have positive interactions with those who have a scent similar to our own.

Once again, what can feel like a kismet twist of fate is actually influenced by our biological responses to the world around us.

A Word for the Skeptics

Perhaps you aren’t convinced that soulmates exist. Or, you’re in a wonderful relationship with someone you just don’t feel is the one. Don’t let either one of these circumstances hold you back from experiencing lasting love. 

In my work as a psychotherapist, I encourage both the idea of deep romance and the concept that we may feel ambivalence throughout a relationship due to our own personal history of feeling secure and insecure in close relationships. These can coexist, but may muddle the question of finding “the one.” 

Dropping the semantics and leaning into your current relationship can help you find peace. “Don’t let the idea of a ‘soulmate’ hold you back from finding true happiness in your relationships,” stated Bahar. “Don’t wait around for your ‘soulmate’ to come along. Focus on building a strong bond with the person you’re with now,” she concluded. 

What We Won’t Do For Love

Go on reality television, meet a stranger off an app, shoot our shot waiting in line at the grocery store. Our culture remains one of hopeless romanticism, one that dares to dream our other half is waiting to meet us. 

Don’t let the idea of a ‘soulmate’ hold you back from finding true happiness in your relationships.

The reality is a bit more complicated, particularly with marriage on the decline and individuals choosing to get married later. The rate of unmarried adults is up 11% from 1950, and the rate of single-person households is up 16% from 1960.

Younger generations have deviated from the norms of our elders, fearlessly exiting relationships that are no longer aligned. In fact, these statistics could speak to a burgeoning hope that one isn’t destined to stay in a relationship that isn’t serving them. And perhaps, that one failed relationship is just an indicator that they have yet to meet the one

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.