If you pop the word 'soulmate' into Google, it's defined by Oxford Languages as 'a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.' Or if you try Wikipedia, it will tell you it's 'a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity.' But, personally I just think that the idea of a soulmate is much more subjective to the person who believes they have found theirs.
It's often got those cheesier connotations of finding 'The One' and a lot of people say that when they meet their soulmate, they just know. Others describe it as a feeling of relief when they finally set eyes on their person, as though their soul has said 'Ah, there you are. Where have you been all this time?' And some say they just get a feeling of safety or familiarity, like they've come home again or they've been with this person in another lifetime.
But all fairy-tale descriptions aside, is there any actual science behind having a soulmate?
I've scoured the internet and Google Scholar to gather any real scientific evidence for soulmates, however all I found was some rather unfortunate maths. And I have to break it to you that the news isn't so fairy-tale romantic after-all.
An article by Bustle, tells us of Randall Munroe, a roboticist from NASA, who did some calculations - I'm not sure how exactly if I'm honest - and found that you've got 500 million possible candidates to get through before you would find your soulmate, meaning "you’ll only find true love in one lifetime out of 10,000.” Ouch. Not so sure this is the best news to be delivering around Valentines day...oops.
On a more positive note, a large number of articles consult relationship therapists and psychologists, many of which explain how even if there isn't any scientific evidence of a soulmate, there is evidence for connections between exactly how you see your partner/s throughout your life and how this effects the longevity of your relationship.
Psychologists explain that most relationships which are founded on the idea that two people are each others soulmate, are usually less satisfactory due to over-reactions towards conflicts, leading to individuals questioning if they are with 'the right one' after all.
The two frameworks for thinking about conflicts in a relationship are what it all comes down to, according to the study by social psychologists Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz. Apparently, if you look at your relationship as being a 'perfect unity' between you and your partner, you will see the conflicts as problematic and therefore the overall relationship as unsatisfactory.
But on the other hand, if you see your relationship as 'a journey' where you learn from each other and grow together through your differences, these conflicts won't seem so detrimental and in fact, we could argue, you will see them as rather necessary and part of what is to be celebrated.
So, is this saying the key to finding your soulmate is literally a mindset? Excellent.
For those of you that scoffed at the above study, and who agree it sounds exactly like its suggesting you're the reason you're single, here's another type of soulmate to spark your hopes once again. The 'twin flame' gets even more fairy-tale, so brace yourselves.
A phrase given in an article by Manj Bahra, perfectly describes twin flames as 'soulmates on steroids.' Looking on YouTube, you'll find a whole library full of videos about them and 'how to know you've found yours', as though it's a literal quest for finding one in your lifetime - personally I'm not sure that's quite the way we should see our life purpose though.
I'll admit I kind of got sucked into the abyss of YouTube here. One of my favourite YouTube pages, Psych2Go, gave a pretty perfect definition of what twin flames consist of. They argue that soulmates and twin flames aren't the same at all, and in fact are completely different, explaining that 'soulmates are our perfect matches, but twin flames are our complete mirrors.'
It also seems that twin flames align pretty well with Lee and Schwarz idea of seeing a relationship as a journey. Psych2Go go on to explain that twin flame relationships can be 'rollercoasters of emotion,' with differences that make you seem the complete opposite. Hence, as Lee and Schwarz argue, the conflicts are part of the journey with each other, making you compatible.
My favourite part of Pscyh2Go's explanation is all about how twin flames originated as an Ancient Greek myth, where people had two sets of arms and legs and two faces, before they were separated into two, making the twin flame our 'long lost other half' when we finally reunite. (Feel free to either throw up or say 'Aww!' here, no judgement either way).
I can't say I've rounded up the BEST evidence for either soulmates or twin flames. But, I didn't necessarily set out to prove it. Rather I aimed to question what people really believe. From what I've found, its still what I think to be entirely subjective. Some people are kept going by the idea that there is someone out there right this second who is meant for them and who they are yet to meet. Others seem to believe that people simply become soulmates as they grow together and overcome obstacles in the face of the relationship. Either way, the whole idea is pretty nice to imagine, and if you are a hopeless romantic or feel sick at the simple sight of hearts, I bet a lot of you secretly hope soulmates or twin flames really do exist after all.
Feature image: Pixabay @mohamed_hassan