I grew up in an era of princesses and rescuing princes. The message was clear: women will struggle, women will need rescuing.
Our lives will be less than perfect, until a guy comes along to rescue us. Then we’ll live happily ever after – at least according to every childhood story.
And then I got older and surely fairytales were a thing of the past, right?
Not so much. Hollywood told me time and time again I needed to find my soul mate.
Dear Daughter, Your Father Isn’t My Soul Mate
I wouldn’t be complete and I wouldn’t be okay until I found him.
The one guy that would complete me, my soul mate would be vital to a life of happiness.
I’m not saying princess stories and Hollywood romances aren’t fun. I’m not saying I won’t let you enjoy the fairytales. What I want you to know is it’s simply that, a fairytale.
Why I’m Not Married To My Soul Mate
I met my husband fresh out of high school. How lucky to be complete so soon! Or so I initially thought. After all, aren’t our lives a search for happiness found only in a soul mate?
It didn’t take too long to realise the prince I found was imperfect. But it also didn’t take long for him to realise the princess he found was just as human as he was.
As it turns out, our partner’s purpose isn’t to be a perfect hero. It isn’t their job to complete us or fill our lives with endless happiness. They can’t make us feel complete, no matter how much they love us and no matter how much they give.
How many disagreements could’ve been avoided if I’d known this sooner? How much less doubt would have crept in during our early years together?
Why is this hard? Isn’t he my soul mate?
The way we met seemed so perfect, at a large music festival neither of us planned to be at. We were destined for each other! And while I don’t doubt we are meant to be together, I now know he isn’t my soul mate.
Why? Because no human can fulfill the role of soul mate in the way we were told by fairytales and Hollywood.
Dear Daughter, I want you to believe in romance and joy. I want you to experience spontaneity and excitement. But I want you to know that you are complete as you. You are enough.
I want you to find a loving partner if you desire, but I want you to know you don’t need a partner to have joy. I don’t want you or your future partner to face unnecessary stress because you’re both looking for something that doesn’t exist.
I Believe In Love, But I Want You To Know What Real Love Looks Like
As you grow, you’ll see your father is full of love. He’s an amazing husband, father, son and more. But you’ll also see that he’s human (as am I).
He can’t complete me, nor can I complete him. He’s often my hero, but he isn’t perfect, and it’s unfair to him for me to expect that.
He makes me a better person because he challenges me and expects good from me. He sacrifices and puts his family first.
We don’t have a good relationship because we’re soul mates, we have a good relationship because love is a verb to us. We know we’re human, we know we’ll sometimes let the other down because there’s no such thing as a perfect soul mate.
He can remind me of my worth, he can bring joy and excitement, but he can’t be my inner voice nor can he be the joy in my life. If I put that on him, I’ll be disappointed and he’ll never measure up.
I can’t be the source of joy in his life. I can’t make his life perfect. I can support him and remind him of his worth. But we’ll have disagreements, we’ll let each other down. When that happens, each of us each need to know that we’re enough, we’re whole.
If we measure our life’s success or happiness based on another imperfect person, we’ll be sorely disappointed. If we expect to feel complete when we’re with another person, we’ll be sorely disappointed.
However, if we expect love, respect and mutual understanding, we can bring joy to each other. If we understand grace, we can extend it to each other and have a good relationship even when our imperfections show.
What Is Real Love?
Real love isn’t rescuing you from a tower, extravagant romantic gestures, and a feeling of completeness. Sure, they can accompany love, but they aren’t what brings love.
Real love is care and respect. It’s being a good partner even when your partner can’t give you romantic gestures, even when you disagree.
It’s giving, rather than receiving. It isn’t one sided. It isn’t the prince giving all of himself, nor is it the princess only serving him.
Real love can look like a new dad being scared to watch you give birth, but offering you unimaginable support as you struggle with postnatal depression. It may look like a new mama being too tired to be physically intimate, but recognising her partner’s hard work and the clueless dad stereotype is just that, a stereotype.
True love is understanding Hollywood and fairytale partners don’t exist. It’s feeling complete as an individual and because of that, you’re able to truly love and a support a partner.
But really, what’s most important, what I need you to know, is regardless of a partner, regardless of romance, you can have joy and completeness.
You can be complete without a partner. And on the same note, your brothers can also be complete without partners. Men are also told they need partners to ‘grow up’ or to settle down and finally be complete.
No one needs a partner to be complete. In fact, if you search for a partner to complete you, even if you find a caring one, you’ll both be disappointed.
Should you have a partner, knowing your life can be complete in the absence of fairytale romance, will allow you to give and receive real love. It’ll allow you to experience disappointment and extend grace, and it’ll allow you to receive grace when you disappoint.
So, My Dear Daughter, Please Don’t Search For A Soul Mate
Seek to be the best you can be. Don’t seek joy in imperfect humans. Don’t wait for someone to complete you.
Don’t let someone seek to use you to feel complete. You can’t complete them and you don’t deserve that pressure.
Your father and I aren’t soul mates. We’re two imperfect humans, complete as individuals, trying hard to love and respect each other through this life. We try to bring joy to each other, but we can never be the joy for each other.