22
Sep
10

soul mates

Reader W. J. writes:

Sometimes I will meet someone for the first time and feel a very deep connection with them.  It’s not romantic, per se, but it is definitely almost other-worldly, if you know what I mean.  I feel like either I have known them all my life or somewhere before.  I also feel a deep need to get to know them a lot better.  Like soul mates, but not necessarily someone you have to marry and be with forever. I don’t know.  It’s hard to explain.  It’s like a crush, but for a different reason.  I wanted to know what your take on this was.  Do you ever feel it too?

Dear W.J.:

Not to be a total buzz kill, but as a fancy pants atheist (as opposed to a regular atheist or an agnostic), I don’t actually believe in souls. Therefore, I don’t actually believe in soul mates.

foot

Yes but are you SOLE mates? Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


But I do believe that human brains are really good at seeing patterns, even when there aren’t patterns, and at interpreting coincidences and chemicals as signs and making meaning out of it. So to that extent, I believe in the idea of soul mates, or at least I believe that human beings can interpret the things they feel for someone else as being “destiny” or “fate”. And who am I to tell them they’re wrong?

I’m no biologist, but there are certain chemicals we all have racing through our bodies. These hormones control our sleep patterns, our hunger patterns, and to some extent, our emotional patterns. Sometimes when you meet someone, you have a chemical reaction to them that could be lust, or love, or just kinship. It could be due to the fact that the person is fun, and in a good mood, and standing in just the right light. Or it could be due to pheromones. You’ll probably never know what it is that makes someone attractive or lovely to you, but it’ll happen, and your brain will interpret it. After a while of laughing and enjoying yourself and building up oxytocin and bonding chemicals in your body from all this enjoyment you’re having, you’re probably going to feel drawn to this person. And if you have enough in common, you’re going to feel like soul mates.

And that is, I think, a very fun feeling. (Atheists have feelings too.) (Men don’t, though, as we all know.)

So yes, I’ve felt the soul mates phenomenon. It’s the people you find yourself talking to until well past your bedtime or the bar has closed, and when you wake up the next morning you can’t even remember what you were talking about anyway. It’s due to a mixture of things — similar outlooks on life, similar upbringings, and aforementioned good lighting and hormones.

But it doesn’t matter what it’s based on. It’s there, and you feel it, and it’s fun, and yeah you should definitely pursue friendship with someone like that.

Also, it’s totally natural to have a crush on someone. The thing about crushes is that they’re completely innocent, and totally honest. You just genuinely like someone, whether it’s sexual or otherwise. You don’t care how they feel back. You’ve got a crush. It’s almost all-consuming, even if it’s just friendly. I think crushes get rarer and rarer as we get older, but they never quite lose their awesome powers.

I have this funny thing I discovered with some of my girlfriends. We all have a single freckle on the bottoms of one of our feet. The coincidence has increased our bond as friends. We all know it doesn’t mean anything. But it makes us feel like we belong together. And sometimes that feeling is all that matters.

Even as an atheist, I know that feelings and rationality are two completely different things and don’t always inform each other. But they should be equally important in your life. Feelings matter.

So yes, I think you should definitely pursue spending time with people who make you feel like you’ve known them for a long time, even if it is just chemicals and coincidence. Who cares? It’s how you feel. If they make you feel good and right and loved and stimulated… well, what else could you ask for?

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4 Responses to “soul mates”


  1. 1 Tony
    September 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Whoa, there. Men do too have feelings! Like hunger!


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