The poet John Keats once described love as, "Two souls but with a single thought / Two hearts that beat as one." True love, we've always been told, happens when we recognize our other half in someone else—when we find our soulmate. There is something undeniably romantic about the notion of a soulmate. Who wouldn't want to believe that out there, somewhere, someone is walking around who is destined to be your perfect match?
While the notion of finding "the one" may seem implausible or ridiculous, most people still cling to the hope that their soulmate is out there. According to a 2021 study by Maple Casino, 80.8 percent of people believe in soulmates. However, the study revealed the term "soulmate" may be a little more complicated than it first appears. Based on the survey, many people have different ideas about what actually makes someone our forever partner. And when it comes to what makes a relationship better with a soulmate, men and women tend to expect vastly different things.
Spiritual connection is ranked as being more important than physical attraction by 68 percent of people who are hunting for a soulmate. The majority of people (60.8 percent) thought a soulmate is someone you feel comfortable around. Roughly half of the people surveyed listed the "ability to communicate without speaking" and "physical chemistry" as being important elements in the perfect soulmate.
Women tended to list "aligned goals" and a "vision of the future together" as being more important than sexual chemistry, while men, on the other hand, thought the reverse. Additionally, men were more likely to expect fewer fights with a soulmate than women.
Actor and filmmaker Gino Cafarelli discusses the challenges of finding "the one" who will understand him as an artist, father and dedicated co-parent. Watch the full interview here.
What this means for the dating world
So, what does all of this information mean for people in the dating world looking to find their perfect match? And what happens if you're looking for one thing from your soulmate while they are looking for another?
Becky and Lewis, both 24-year-olds from Boston, have been together for a little more than a year. They met in their final year of college and immediately knew felt a strong attraction. For Lewis, the physical attraction was key. "I had an instant feeling about her from the moment I saw her," he recalled. "I knew she was someone I could properly see myself with." For Becky, it was a little different. "I obviously liked the way he looked," she said with a smirk. "But it definitely wasn't a case of, 'Oh, he looks like someone I want to date.' I wanted to get to know him a bit better first."
In their searches for soulmates, Lewis clearly rated physical attraction more highly than Becky did. Luckily, they made it past the early courtship stages and even consider themselves to be soulmates—others aren't always so lucky.
Anita, 31, who lives in Texas and is currently single, thought she'd found the one, too.
While the notion of finding 'the one' may seem implausible or ridiculous, most people still cling to the hope that their soulmate is out there.
"We were best friends, like, literally attached at the hip—people even called him my work husband," she said. What made her think he was your soulmate, I ask her, "We told each other everything. We were just so close."
When Anita finally confessed her feelings, the object of her affection didn't reciprocate. "He told me he was sorry, but he just didn't feel any attraction to me," she explained. It sounds like his idea of a soulmate involved a strong physical connection, while Anita's was more focused on feeling comfortable around the other person.
There are plenty of potential factors that go into determining whether you think someone is the one. Chances are, you and your potential partners will subconsciously tick off boxes mentally while you assess whether or not you've found your soulmate—and if you have a different set of boxes, sometimes, the person you see as your soulmate may not see you in the same light.
Yvonne Filler, psychotherapist and mental health expert, explained that searching for the perfect soulmate and using a specific soulmate criteria can be problematic.
"We might give up perfectly good relationships in the hunt for that 'something even better,'" Filler said. "It can also be dangerous if we meet someone who we class as a soulmate and the relationship doesn't work out—it can stop us moving forward with our lives and meeting new people and building new relationships."
Ultimately, there could be dozens of variables that determine whether or not someone is a good fit. And while we can't always control how we feel, by opening ourselves up to different types of connections based on different factors, we may be more likely to find someone who suits us—even if they're not our perfect match.