Expert advice: How do I find my soulmate?

How do you know if he’s "The One"? Here are answers from two leading Canadian relationship experts’and share your own thoughts, too

Expert advice: How do I find my soulmate?

Source: Web exclusive: November 2009

I am in my 30s and dating a really great guy. But I’m not sure if he is ‘The One.’ I don’t want to settle if he isn’t my soulmate. Am I being too picky?

Dale Curd answers:

"The One," the elusive person who will unlock all of our potential, or with their deep, penetrating love, wake us up from our long deep sleep; yes, I would say this is the stuff of fairy tales. The search for a soulmate is our inner child’s eternal hunt for unconditional love and understanding’someone who just "gets us," intuitively.  And while deep love is possible, the belief that deep love can only be felt with someone specific is an unfortunate lie.

Relationships are hard, hard work’perhaps the hardest work we can ever undertake as human beings. Relating to another person, especially in a romantic way, takes a lot of courage and perseverance to deal with all of the fears and issues that we have connected to loving and being lovable. Being a soulmate is a choice requiring us to willingly love someone else deeply, and equally be open to deep love from the other.

So as you can see, being a soulmate and being open to deep love leaves no room for "settling." And I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone who I wasn’t willing to be my full loving self with‘really, what would be the point? Why bother being with someone if I’m not willing to love deeply and fully or, if I’m having the experience of not being loved fully and deeply by the other?

There’s a love pandemic happening in our world today and it is that we are spending time with each other without fully understanding why we are getting together. Too many people are wasting time and energy in relationships without knowing why they are there. A relationship is not an antidote to loneliness, nor is it something to be experienced with anything less than full commitment. In order for a romantic bond to build and deepen with anyone I have to be able to answer the following questions:

1. What am I offering in a relationship? What do I offer that I think is good, (care, support), and what do I bring into a relationship which often causes problems (jealousy, insecurity)?

2. Am I ready to be in a relationship? In other words, am I willing to give the relationship my full commitment?

3. Do I like, trust and respect this person and do they like, trust and respect me?

The responsibility for creating a deep, loving bond lies with you, and with your partner.  You both must be up for the challenges and rewards of intimacy, and what will make you both soulmates is your willingness to give yourself fully to the other.

Cheryl Fraser answers:

Sometimes I think women should file a class-action lawsuit against the companies that make movies out of fairy tales. Why? Because generations of little girls weaned on princess movies still believe that someday their prince will come. And any guy who isn’t everything they ever dreamed of gets booted straight into the frog pond.

Wake up, sisters: There is no such thing as a soulmate. No male can live up to the picture many women have in their heads. This fiction is buried in our subconscious, influencing our ‘ideal mate’ template.

My advice? Mr. Great may be right in front of you. What the heck does soulmate mean, anyway? The term comes from Aristotle’s maudlin concept that each soul is split apart, so we are made of half a soul, and are doomed to wander the planet trying to find our other half. Now does that sound realistic?

This is my dating prescription, if you’re looking for a life partner: Consciously make a man-shopping list. Research shows that predictors of long-term marital happiness include having shared goals and values, cultivating communication, and partnering with someone who is a lot like you.

List every quality that your ideal guy would have. Then ruthlessly cut the list down to the top 10. These qualities are the core things you need in a partner. Your final list might include generosity­’he gives freely of his heart and time’or maybe he wants children and would be an involved, loving dad.

And keep it real. In reality, the perfect man doesn’t exist. He is created by writers and portrayed by gorgeous actors who can’t hold a marriage together in real life.

Next step? Date lots of men and discover which ones have seven or eight of the key qualities. Just remember not to rely on ‘chemistry’; if the wild rush of this-could-be-him hits you, enjoy the ride, but know that that initial rush is a temporary hormonal cocktail created by oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine stewed together with hopes and fantasies. And it passes. If what is left includes those love-list items you identified before you got high on endorphins, you’ve got the basis for a wonderful, sustainable relationship.

And married women, these rules apply to you, too. If you’re facing uncertainty about your marriage and make your own list, cut your man some slack. You may fall in love with him all over again’all seven out of 10 of him. Killing the idea of a soulmate may save your relationship.

Dale Curd is a counselor and one of Canada’s leading authorities on men’s issues. He works in private practice in Toronto and speaks internationally on men and the male perspective.

Cheryl Fraser, Ph.D., is a psychologist and sex therapist who lives in Duncan, B.C. She teaches a couples’ workshop, the Awakened Lover Weekend.

What do you think? Do you have your own advice to share? Tell us in the comments.