Saturday, June 26, 2010


I was watching Lipstick Jungle tonight and Natasha Bedingfield had a guest appearance in one of the episodes and sang "Soulmate." This song is beautiful and really resonates with me. I've included a YouTube video that includes the lyrics for those of you who are unfamiliar with the song.

While I love the song and definitely relate to the essence of the message, I also tend to "push back" against the term "soulmate." I do not believe that there is just one person out there for each of us. I know too many people who have lost their love early in life and I just don't believe that they are destined to be alone the rest of their lives. So, here is what I believe:

1.) I do not believe that there is one soulmate for every individual, but I do believe that there are only a limited number of individuals with the potential to be a particular individual's soulmate. Potential soulmates are compatible based on core values, beliefs, life experiences & expectations as well as the life paradigm each individual operates from.

2.) I believe another important component of a soulmate is the presence of chemistry between two individuals. I found this MSN article describing the 5 Kinds of Chemistry especially useful. In my own opinion, soulmates will share each of these types of chemistry. While I believe that chemistry provides the "natural" feeling or connection between two individuals I do not believe that means the relationship will be easy.

3.) I believe that finding a soulmate is the result of both fate and personal decisions, which both influence timing. For example, I ended up in Minnesota based on my decision to apply to the U of M's Phd program. However, the opportunities & experiences that led up to that decision are the culmination of both fate and personal decisions. Beyond that, being in a situation where I meet one particular individual (someone with the potential to be my soulmate) may be considered fate whereas my own decision to place myself in a situation where I could meet that individual is a choice.

Although I do believe that the term soulmate captures the essence of what I am ultimately searching for, I also believe that the assumptions and expectations that are typically associated with the term do not reflect my own beliefs (a selection of which have been presented here). While Natasha Bedingfield's song "Soulmate" resonates with me (as I'm sure it does with others) I felt the need to articulate my own beliefs about the loaded term.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Making Things Explicit...Avoiding the "Bad Call"

Within the course of my life in general and relationships specifically I prefer to make things explicit. I prefer to know where I stand with people. I have found that being authentic, honest, and explicit really facilitates this process. However, it is not easy to do this; I've been in very uncomfortable and at times awkward situations by attempting to identify and make explicit undercurrents. I have also learned that doing this does not always resolve the issue because if the person or people I'm interacting with avoid being honest and explicit (sometimes even to themselves) awkward undercurrents may remain.

I'd like to use a sports metaphor to further illustrate the benefit of being explicit within the context of friendships and relationships. Imagine you are watching a football game and the ref calls a face-mask penalty against your team. [For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a face-mask call is I have included a youtube video below of what it looks like. As you can see from the video it is illegal because it could really injure the player, ie. break his neck.] Upon replay, you can see that your team's player did not actually grab on to the face-mask but the player's hand was close to the face-mask. Most people choose to get upset with the ref for making a bad call. However, I appreciate the way my dad reframes the situation. He argues that if the player had made a fundamentally sound tackle (ie. hit them low and wrap up) his hand would not be anywhere near the face-mask which does not even give the ref an opportunity to make the "bad call."

When this is applied to friendships and relationships, being explicit about how you feel, what you think, etc. reduces the potential for misunderstandings. Being explicit means the other person does not have a reason to question or assume what is going on. As I was told many years ago, "when you assume you make an ass out of 'u' and 'me'." I have been in situations where misunderstandings and hurt feelings could have been avoided had both parties been honest and explicit. However, being honest and explicit can also, cause problems especially if you are interacting with a very sensitive person or people unwilling to critically reflect on the situation. Regardless, I firmly believe that making things explicit avoids the likelihood that you or your friend or partner will feel the need to question or make assumptions about your friendship or relationship. By making things explicit others aren't put in the situation where they even have the possibility to "make a bad call."