For as long as I’ve had my practice, women have come to me talking about their “soulmate.” And I get it. I mean soulmates have been coined as the single most romantic phrase. He’s your soulmate! You two will live happily ever after forever and have a perfect,couple,rain,umbrella-982aa19546ef5b68d0979bba013a1126_h

Well. Maybe.

As you can imagine, I personally have a huge problem with this term. I think that soulmate is thrown out too much and often used as an excuse or a crutch to stay in a relationship longer than you should.

I had a client once, years ago, who had a man as a best friend and I mean best friend. They were inseparable. They hung out, watched movies together, talked all the time, liked all the same stuff. Then one day he kissed her and she thought: perfect! But the problem was it wasn’t perfect, in fact it was horrible. As a friend this guy was great but in relationship, well, let’s just say there was a reason they were besties for so long and it hadn’t morphed into anything until they were years into the friendship. This guy was about as commitment phob as you could get. Once they had “sealed the deal” so to speak he would go MIA often for days on end, which was pretty uncharacteristic of him since they were at one point, joined at the hip. But she hung in there because well, he was her soulmate. She came in, session after session, looking more discouraged than the last time I’d met with her. But she wouldn’t let go because they were meant to be. How could they not be? They were soulmates.

One day I quoted her from Elizabeth Gilbert’s massive bestseller: Eat, Pray, Love. It’s probably one of the best descriptions of a soulmate I’ve ever read:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”Dr. Ruth Ann Column 1

When someone comes into my office saying that while the person they are dating isn’t perfect, they’re soulmates so it has to work, all the alarms in my head go off. If this is you, I would encourage you to look at the reality, instead of the romantic fantasy because it’s the reality, not the fantasy, that you’re living with.

I have a quote in my office I often point people to, I’m full of quotes today, and it reads: See with better eyes.

And I think that alone says it all. While it’s great to follow your heart and I’m personally a big fan of that, I can promise you that your heart won’t send you off a cliff or tell you to date someone who isn’t respectful of you and doesn’t 100% adore you, and by adoring you I mean shows up, keeps his word and is a solid partner in the relationship. He doesn’t check in and out when it suits him. He shows up. No better said, he’s always there.

So while soulmate is a lovely term and looks great on a Valentine’s card, the reality is that soulmates often exist not to love us for eternity, but to help us find a better version of ourselves. That, in the end, is really what it’s all about.