Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Do You Want a Soulmate...Or a God?

Research indicates that some people are hardwired to desire and experience contact with "the divine." (Whether "the divine" is Yahweh, Allah, Nirvana, or simply an altered state of consciousness is open to interpretation.)

Unfortunately, I was not able to pinpoint what percentage of the population is said to carry the so-called "God gene." But this leads me to wonder if the same people who believe in the existence of soulmates, or divinely orchestrated love, also have this genetic marker. Moreover, I'd be curious to learn if those who are consumed with finding their predestined mate already have an active spiritual life or if they are, in a sense, replacing their desire for union with a higher power with their desire for a lover.

It's interesting to me how love seems to take the place of religion in the lives of many. Although 90% of Americans say they believe in God, regular church attendance has declined to around 40%. Unless you're very spiritually oriented yourself, chances are that most people you know believe in something but don't spend much time thinking about it, much less trying to connect with it. But I'll bet you know tons of people who visit their local bar religiously to scout for dating prospects and fervently believe that the objective of life is to create a "perfect union" with a marital partner.

Could it be that people who would've placed their faith in a religious institution fifty years ago have transferred that faith to the rather nebulous concept of "true love"? That the responsibility for peace, fulfillment, or even salvation has been reassigned from a divinity to an all-too-human mate?

After all, we've all known singles who are desperate for the love of their life to miraculously swoop in and save them from themselves. We've all had friends who couldn't find a moment's peace in their own company, who had to be married by some set age or else feel "incomplete" forever. We've all read personal ads seeking someone to "make me a better person." One could say these fantastic imaginary partners, with their boundless power to transform lives, seem almost...superhuman.

Perhaps that's why singles have such high expectations for dating partners today. They don't want to be with a person. They want to be with God.

What do you think? Has the quest for union with a soulmate replaced the quest for union with divinity? Are people projecting godlike expectations onto their potential partners?

Fun Link of the Day


Wizardry said...

Well, I answer this one with an absolute maybe. From what I can tell and what I have experienced, divinity is an ideal that saves us from ourselves. Just think of the many problems we as a self-conscious beings face: “Where do I go after death?”; “What is the meaning of life?”; “What am I supposed to achieve while I’m here?” These questions, if truly thought about and applied to real life, harrow the soul. They invoke fear of death, of meaningless existence. Such thought’s summon fear because we do not know the answers, and we have no way of discovering them. Deity gives meaning to these fearful questions that we cannot answer; it claims that there is a heaven after death, that life is lived to achieve that heaven, and the goal of life is to convert others and live as god commanded. To distract for a moment, perhaps you have heard of a saying that I will now paraphrase, that “some people wish to remain slaves instead of free men because it is easier to have someone else make decisions for you.” These parameters god sets up makes life easer for them, because it gives them a guide to live by, regardless of what that guide is composed of, it gives them purpose and meaning. The rest of us, however are left to forge our own paths.

As for application to relationships, I could see this happening. In the same way religion is used to quell the fears of meaning, relationships could do the same. People could console themselves with the truth that marriage or relationship is the meaning to life, thus, once again, giving purpose and meaning to their lives. In you explanation, this places undue pressure upon one member of the relationship, which I suppose could be true. But I believe this is more an issue that humanity has lived with so long as it has existed: the Truth, or meaning of life. Without an answer, it is the most fearful thing man could ever contemplate, so we give it an answer to go on living.

Yes, well; if that didn’t make any sense, say so, and I’ll come back and clean it up.

Victoria Gothic

bobbyboy said...

"Has the quest for union with a soulmate replaced the quest for union with divinity? Are people projecting godlike expectations onto their potential partners?"

Personally, I don't believe there's a connection. I believe there is a constant with the human condition to be loved that doesn't change, but may appear to change because society does.

As to your example of not going to church, but going to a bar regularly? Bravo! Well done Elsie!

Again, I would say that our society has changed a bit. There used to be a time where most, if not all, functions were centered around the church. It may have been the only place to meet a partner without being looked down on. Not even close anymore.

I think there are numerous reasons for the drop off of church attendance, yet people still saying they are believers. One being that the churches have been forced to be more open through the centuries and people have seen them more as a business caring about money more than caring about the soul.
Another may be that people are actually reading the scripture as opposed to being told what it means. Therefore, they realize that they don't actually have to go to church to be in good grace with God.

I also believe that over the years with the advent of the information highway (Internet), the "soul mate" has maybe come into play a little more. Dating sites certainly use the word in abundance.

All in all, I don't believe there's any kind of replacement of God with soul mate, there's just more "Soul mate" out there to deal with.

Clever Elsie said...

Victoria--It made perfect sense. :)

Bobby--Just FYI, I didn't mean to suggest that church attendance has dropped because people are replacing the concept of God with that of soulmates but that as people have drifted away from an interest in spirituality, they've tried to fill that need for some kind of divine union by an attempt to unite with a divinely selected partner. Not sure if I was clear on that! :)

The reasons for why church attendance has fallen are too numerous (and off-topic) for me to get into here, I think, but you definitely pinpointed several of them.