The Soulmate Debate
By Laura Snyder
According to research from Rutgers University’s National Marriage Project, 88 percent of single Americans in their 20s agreed there was a “special person waiting for [them] out there somewhere.” Nearly as many thought that they would find that person when they were ready to get married.
If you’re one of them – and statistically, the odds are good that you are – science would like to have a word with you.
"The soul mate theory is not supported by research," says Hope College sociologist and marriage counselor Jim Piers.
What feels like love at first sight is basically just tricky brain circuit programming. By the time you’re about ten years old (yes, that young!) your brain has developed a mental image – or lovemap -- of your ideal "Mr. Right" or "Girl of My Dreams". When that ideal walks into the room, hormones go into overdrive and you think you've found The One.
"Falling in love is not voluntary,” says Dino Pranzarone, professor of psychology and certified sexologist at Roanoke College in Virginia. "It is not at all a reasonable or rational situation. It happens automatically when the appropriate stimulus appears before us. If the attraction is mutual, the sense of familiarity is overwhelming. It is truly 'love at first sight' and you begin to believe that the similarities you share are uncanny."
"Unfortunately, we also then project our lovemap onto the ambiguous screen of the potential mate and we perceive as a mirage all those excellent qualities of our dream girl or guy in this real, flawed individual,” he says.
As that limbic system high eventually wears off, you may find your “The One” to be “Not the Right One” after all.
Let’s look at the numbers. With over six billion people populating the earth, to believe that one-and-only soulmate theory, you have to believe in bucking the one-in-six billion odds. It’s more likely that you’ll be elected president (10,000,000 to one), be named a saint (20,000,000 to one), get hit by lightning (250,000 to one), date a supermodel (88,000 to one), or be considered possessed by Satan (7,000 to one).
The good news is that love can’t really be pinned down with math and science. Maybe you will find your soulmate. Or maybe you’ll marry and subsequently divorce three “The Ones” before you get it right. Destiny might make for a good story, but there are many roads that can lead to your personal Happily Ever After.
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