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Love & Intimacy

Nine not-so-simple steps to finding your "soul-mate"

After personally watching a number of supposed "soul-mates" crash and burn, I'm a little hesitant even to use the term. Perhaps we should redefine the essence of our quest as "finding a lifetime partner" or a "life-mate."

Of one thing there's no doubt: the God given "urge-to-merge," i.e., finding a life-mate, seems to spring from the very core of our identities as human beings. Author Eckard Tolle describes thaturge this way: " The longing for wholeness-the return to oneness-manifests as male-female attraction, man's need for a woman, woman's need for a man. It is an almost irresistible urge for union with the opposite energy polarity. The root for this physical urge is a spiritual one: the longing for an end to duality, a return to the state of wholeness. Sexual union is the closest you can get to this state on the physical level. This is why it is the most deeply satisfying experience the physical realm can offer."

The big question, of course, is: How do you begin? Assuredly, it's not by relying on dating services or personal advertisements. You begin, quite simply, by making a very careful self-assessment . After all, if you're not clear on who you are, how can anyone else be expected to know and cherish the "true you?" Secondly, how can you determine if you're compatible with someone if you haven't identified your own values, compulsive drives, and deepest needs.

So the first requirement for finding a lifetime partner is to know your criteria for compatibility. Here are some steps I recommend.

Step One

First, you'll need to think long and hard about this question: What virtues are important to you? Maybe honesty, vulnerability, loyalty or kindness?

Step Two

Next, discover "meta-values" (over-arching values) in your life. To do that, determine what types of experiences you value during your day. For instance:

Meta-Value #1 - Connection to God (out of which flow):

Daily Values:
  • Spiritual growth
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Church involvement

Meta-Value #2 - Making a Difference/Giving to Others (out of which flow):

Daily Values:
  • Quality time with children and friends
  • Volunteer activities
  • Supporting a good cause

Meta-Value #3 - Giving and Receiving Love (out of which flow):

Daily Values:
  • Time with family and friends
  • Teaching children
  • Working with the disabled or those in need

Meta-Value #4 - Enjoying Life (out of which flow):

Daily Values:
  • Music/dance
  • Outdoor living
  • Art
  • Theatre
  • Reading
  • Travel
  • Sunsets

Meta-Value #5 - Sensuality (out of which flow):

Daily Values:
  • Candles
  • Incense
  • Romantic music
  • Gourmet food and wine
  • Sensual massage or touching

You get the idea!

Step Three

List the attributes you admire in others. Maybe someone you have read about either in current events or in history. For instance, some of the names on my list might be the Pope, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Leonardo DaVinci, Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi, C.S. Lewis, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther . Of course, you also can list people you actually know - family friends or colleagues.

What do you really respect about them? Are they self-aware, courageous, insightful, ambitious, wise, literate, funny, transparent, classy, diligent, creative, practical, focused, congruent, considerate, kind, successful, romantic, generous, spiritual, magnanimous?

Now list some attributes about people you know you don't like: self-absorbed, aloof, arrogant, lazy, judgmental, insecure, no integrity, cheap, narrow-minded, argumentative, vindictive, style-less, suffering from repressed hostility, etc.

By now you're getting the picture. You may be asking yourself: What in the world did I see in that ne'er-do-well slob? He didn't even come close to having the traits I really admire. (Perhaps his main appeal was his attraction to you? Or that he seemed to be so much fun?)

Step Four

Next, list what you really like about yourself. Are you responsible, organized, loyal, smart, sensual, fit, disciplined, curious, quick, humorous, and easy-going? Do you "go with the flow," are you carefree and serendipitous? Incidentally, if you find there's not much you like about yourself, this is a good time to deal with you ! If you don't like yourself, how do you expect others to get past your own self-loathing and insecurities to establish a meaningful relationship?

Step Five

Now for the really big question: What is the driving force/purpose of your life? Is it helping others, making money, finding God, creating beautiful art or music, sports.? This exercise is vitally important, because if your partner doesn't share your interests and drives, if he or she doesn't at least sympathize with and support your purpose in life, you'll soon have very little of importance in common. So now it's time to face the most important question of your life. Before you can seriously analyze what your future mate's life is all about, you need to be crystal clear about your reason for existing!

Step Six

Think about your predisposition and temperament. Are you a "type A" or "type B"? Are you hyper or laid-back, low-maintenance or high? Are you an optimist or a pessimist, an idealist or a pragmatist? In some of these distinctions you may want a close match-in others an opposite polarity might be a good balance. If you're bewildered with this question, ask your friends, family, or teachers, but first promise not to get angry at the feedback they give you!

Step Seven

Next, identify what decisions you've made about life. All of us, beginning in early childhood and through school years, make decisions about other people and about life in general. Life is good, hard, unpredictable, etc. People are good, bad, trustworthy, or not. Life and love are fair or not. God is your friend or He isn't. Honesty pays off or it doesn't. (To learn more about the unhelpful life decisions you've surely made and find some ways to "de-program" yourself, read Dr. Phil McGraw's excellent book, Self Matters .) Here comes the hard part. You owe it to yourself (and your future life-mate) to share and compare the life decisions you've both made. Will they undermine or enhance your individual and mutual goals? Will they strengthen or weaken your relationship? For instance, a belief that most people (especially the opposite sex) can't be trusted, that all men care about is sex, etc., may turn into a constant source of conflict.

Step Eight

Now carefully review the questions and lists you've thoughtfully prepared and put them all together. You should now be armed with the virtues, values, and attributes you find attractive in others as well as yourself. You also know what you don't like. You now have ample criteria to match against potential "life-mates!"

Step Nine

Pray and meditate daily--and when you do, follow the instructions of Jesus, already seeing (visualizing) your perfect mate. Envision yourselves partaking in a favorite activity (no not that activity!!!). See yourself thanking God for your mate.

Of course, as soon as you "fall in love," perhaps at "first sight," all objectivity goes out the window, potentially dragging along with it your future happiness. In Part II we will take a closer look at this modern phenomenon called "falling in love."