It's a question every woman asks when she thinks about marriage. Seeing her mother and father interact, or spending time with close friends who have a strong marriage, she notices the way they look at each other, that special way their voices change at times when they speak to each other, and she wonders "How will I know when I've found the right one?" Asking for advice doesn't always yield helpful answers. A typical response is: "I can't tell you, but you'll know when you know—you know?"
I recently read an article on the need for human beings to become attached to someone else in order to feel a sense of fulfillment and validation in this world. It's most easily seen in children, who have such a strong sense of family and group identity and who at different stages experience levels of real emotional pain when separated (for a day of school, for example) from their families.
As children mature into adults, the way in which they yearn to attach becomes much deeper. They sense a loss— like somehow, somewhere, they've lost a part of themselves that now they are searching to rediscover. So they begin creating deeper relationships; it's no longer "come to my house and play"- as we mature we want to discuss philosophical ideas, spirituality, emotions and everything that we hold dear with someone who will understand our thoughts and feelings and acknowledge the special people we are. But why? Where does this yearning come from?
In terms of the parent/child relationship, it is clear. In normal circumstances, parents love their children, their children love them—it's easy to understand the need for children to attach to their parents and be able to relate to them, but where did this insane will to attach to a mate come from?
Articles and studies have shown that married people live longer, are healthier and enjoy a plethora of experiences that only married couples can. Quite simply, psychologists say, it's another need to attach. They will explain that it's the mature psyche of the child blossoming into an adult, or that it's the natural order of the world, but there is something missing from their explanations. It doesn't explain the quest, the intense desire, to find one's soul mate. The answer doesn't lie in the psychology books; it lies in the foundation of the creation of the world. We want our soul mates because we want to experience a unique sense of comfort, we want to experience peace—that moment where we know, without needing to say a word, that our soul is attached to another person.
There is a teaching from the Talmud which says that forty days before a baby is conceived a voice cries out from Heaven and announces, "the son of so-and-so is destined for the daughter of so-and-so!" Before their souls were sent into the physical world they were united as one in the Heavenly realms and as they grow and mature, they begin to become aware of the part of their soul that is missing, their "other half", as the term has been coined. The intrinsic desire to attach and cleave to another comes not from the brain's deep desire to feel validation, worthiness and importance but from the soul's yearning to feel complete in this world. That is why the urge and need to become one with another is so powerful that it overcomes the senses. It is something that the soul cannot survive without.
So how will you know when you know? The truth is, it will vary from person to person. And sometimes, even if it is not clear to you as a physical body, your soul will know. Often this will result in a feeling of comfort, and strangely enough, a familiarity that you have never felt before.
Have you ever heard someone say, "I know we just met, but it feels like we've been friends for a long time"? The truth is- you have known this person for a long time, from before you were born, and it's the thrill of finding that person and building a life together that gives those couples you see such joy and pleasure. They know what it was like to be without and they value what they have now found.
How do you go about finding your soul mate? OK, that part might not be so simple.
But the more you make space within yourself for another person, the more likely you are to draw the right one to yourself - because you will have prepared yourself. You make yourself available for another person within your life simply by getting to know yourself better. That is, after all, how you will know you've met the right one: simply because he or she is a part of you.
And getting to know and understand yourself takes work. Growth can't be forced, but it does need to be enabled through providing the right circumstances for it to occur. Just like you can't just sit and let your children grow by themselves and expect it to happen naturally, you also can't just sit and expect yourself to grow and be prepared for your soul mate- and hope that he or she will come to you without any effort on your part. You have to make sure that you are taking steps to prepare yourself. Give yourself what you need, find out what you enjoy, create goals for yourself – nurture your own growth. Then, eventually, there will be this other person, who will share your goals in life, have similar ideas and with hard work and effort, you will be able to build a life together.
It's not so much about how you are going to find your soul mate. The bigger question is: are you ready and is your soul mate ready for you?
by Devorah Leah West Devorah Leah West is twenty four years old and currently living in Denver, CO where she is working towards her degree in Education. She enjoys writing and is currently working on a book. More from Devorah Leah West