The Problem with Soulmates

So, soulmate AUs (that’s alternate universes, not astronomical units or the elemental designation for gold.)  A construct where a character falls in love with The One based on some rule or mechanic that brings them together or shows them how to find each other.

I have mixed feelings about them, because whenever I read a list, they’re adorable and would make great stories . . . but I don’t actually believe in soulmates.

(Not a requirement, I know, but it does drain some of the joy out of it.)

I’ve had this discussion with a number of people over the years, including various significant others.  I just don’t think that there is one perfect person out there for me, or someone I’m destined to meet and fall in love with.  It feels limiting.  It feels artificial.  And some of the consequences of belief in a soulmate are tragic and unpalatable.

Like if you never meet them (obviously this one isn’t tied to destiny), you’ll be doomed to be alone, or possibly with someone who could never fulfill you the same way.  You’d never be as happy as you would be if you met them.

Like if you had your soulmate and lost them, then, again, after you could never be as happy with anyone else because you knew what you had.

I just can’t accept that.  Yes, I’m a die-hard romantic, stories about love are my favorites and I will never stop reading romances and erotic romances and fantasy-romance hybrids and basically anything with a love story somewhere in it.  Okay, when I was younger, I would daydream about The One, and yes, sometimes, he was someone I was destined to be with.

But I can’t accept a world, even a story world, where someone loses access to love because of a rule.  I know that’s part of the tension–OH MY GOD MY SOULMATE CLOCK IS TICKING DOWN I HAVE TO FIND HIM SOON OR I NEVER WILL–but my suspension of disbelief apparently doesn’t stretch that far.  I know it’s a construct.  I know it’s artificial.

And a character “knowing” who they’re meant to be with . . . the journey is the important part to me, more so than the destination.  I want to see how people fall in love, not just two puzzle pieces snapping together because they’re supposed to.  Real people don’t fit together that way, and the conflicts that come from trying to reshape yourself to fit better with someone you care about . . .

Well, that’s the story, isn’t it?

And now that I’ve trashed soulmate AUs to the point where Tumblr may never forgive me, I do want to say, I still think they’re adorable, and some of the ones I’ve seen are incredibly creative.  They can set up fantastic and interesting worlds, prompt charming meet-cutes between characters, and be pretty inspirational.  So they’re still valuable tools, and I don’t want my dissatisfaction with how they work to be misconstrued as “I HATE THEM STOP MAKING THEM.”  Because it’s not.

I had intended to do a set of prompts today, but instead, I’ll leave you with a pseudo-soulmate AU that’s more in line with my way of thinking about love:

Everyone has an aura that acts like a mood ring for the soul.  Some people have the ability to see them better than others–those who can’t see them as well are the ones who have trouble with love, or cut themselves off from it when they can’t seem to get it right.

The phenomenon of love at first sight happens when two people meet and “match”–their auras are the same color, or so close they know they’d be compatible if they tried.  So they probably try.  Maybe they’re right, and the love lasts.  Maybe they’re wrong, because as they get to know each other they see different colors in each other, the hidden depths of their auras, and suddenly they don’t match anymore.

Two people who don’t match right away but spend lots of time together–friends and coworkers especially–could have their auras slowly sync with each other over time, leading to love.

And the person who was right for you last year, that cute guy you met in the coffee shop and clicked with but then you lost his number–well, you ran into him again randomly today, and one look at his aura tells you you’re not right for each other now, even if you might have been before.  He’s changed, and you’ve changed, and the moment when it could have happened has passed.

Which means maybe you should ask out that guy you keep seeing at the gym, because he shines so bright he’s getting hard to ignore . . .

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