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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Dating, modern romance, and soulmates

Dating - or modern romance - has evolved from arranged marriages, to nearby village romances (my parents), to personal ads in newspapers (me), into the ample use of dating apps and/or dating sites (me too, occasionally). The search for a soulmate has become more and more "efficient".

Most dating apps are either based on the use of compatibility algorithms, or likability (pics), or both. Time spent on actually getting to know someone is becoming less and less as the next person might be more interesting than the current one. And the person after that one might even be your soulmate.

According to Wikipedia, a "soulmate" is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity. This may involve similarity, love, romance, friendship, intimacy, sexuality, sexual activity, spirituality, or compatibility and trust. This definition clearly shows that a soulmate is a must-have. 

Yesterday, Facebook mentioned an interesting article on finding your soulmate (link 1, link 2).

Dr. Ted Huston of the University of Texas, ran a study of couples that had been married for years and in his research he found out something quite surprising: “My research shows that there is no difference in the objective 'compatibility' between those couples who are unhappy and those who are happy”. He went on to say that couples that are feeling content and warmth in their relationships said that compatibility wasn’t an issue for them. In fact, they were perfectly ok saying that it was them who made the relationship work, not the compatibility of their personalities.

When the unhappy couples were asked what they thought about compatibility, they all answered by saying that compatibility is extremely important to a marriage. And sadly, that they didn’t think they were compatible with their significant other. Dr. Huston explained this as follows: when the unhappy couples said: “We’re incompatible”, they were truly meaning: “We don’t get along very well”.

That’s where the issue arises with compatibility: everyone who is unhappy, naturally blames it on the facade of compatibility. They fail to realise and comprehend that a successful relationship does not hinge its posterity on how alike you are, instead it hangs on by the sheer will power and wanting to stay in a relationship. More often than not, we get stuck in the perpetual loop of consciously and unconsciously considering someone else when things aren’t going perfectly in our relationships. And this is where the illusion of compatibility comes into play.

John Gottman of the Gottman Relationship Research Institute said that measures of personality are incapable of truly predicting the length or success of a relationship. His institute discovered that couples who focus their energy on building something meaningful together in their life (e.g., starting a business together) tend to last the longest.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the article's advice which is actually pretty good: If you truly are looking for love and want to find that person that you can spend the rest of your life with, then remember that it is YOU who creates compatibility. There is no magic formula or perfect algorithm for making a fruitful relationship with another human being. Yes, you need to find the other person attractive, look up to them and feel a strong sense of familiarity, but each of those is just one small slice of the pie that constitutes a healthy and long relationship.