Some of us are meant to feel this way not once, but over and over.
What does it mean if life gave you your soulmate... and then another? What happens when someone you were so sure was the partner you'd be with, suddenly isn't?
Another soulmate? Doesn't that contradict the very meaning of the word?
As a starting point let's define the word soulmate. Soulmate: A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.
This somewhat clinical definition leaves a lot to interpretation. A whole lot. The word itself doesn't seem to have been commonly used until the 1960s. (Undoubtedly an era that would have been on board with having multiple soulmates. Free love, man.) But I digress.
The first of three women I've called "soulmate" was a schoolmate from boarding school in New Jersey. (Let's call her The Brazilian.) My relationship with this tall, dark-skinned siren would become my sexual template for all who'd come after. But it takes more than great sex to elicit the title of soulmate. But we had more. Much more.
I was a young whippersnapper, barely 16, finding my way through the jungles of high school relationships when I met her. We shared coy glances and the occasional game of footsies under the desk in Chinese class. And when we first lip-locked behind the science building, WHAM! I knew in one inexorable moment, I never wanted to be away from her.
Our young love blossomed like a flower in spring; bursting into life and blooming fiery red in the hot sunlight. We would sneak away to have intensely emotional rendezvouses every chance we could. This lasted for some time, especially for high school standards. We kept this passionate connection up for over two years, and then one day "us" wasn't "us" anymore.
All our talks of lifelong commitment and the assuredness that we were predetermined soulmates, bound for eternity together, turned into college and a few phone calls if we could find the time. Then slowly, nothing. Soulmates no more.
So, if I found my soulmate then what the hell happened? Why didn't it last? How did we, mere mortals, get in the way of what was written in the stars? As far as I can tell, it's because some of us are meant to feel this way not once, but over and over.
In my second soulmate experience, let's call her Beach Bunny, she was different than The Brazilian. Very, very different. We met on a sandy Cape Cod beach and had the quintessential summer romance. (Think: Grease musical but with a fisherman's daughter.)
When the summer was over and I went back to college, Beach Bunny resolutely dug in her heels and stayed ever-present in my life. Even as I did my college guy thing seven hours from her in New Jersey, she called, she wrote, and she planned visits.
At first, this was a touch overwhelming but over time the security of a woman who was there for me no matter what really got into my soul, so to speak. And like a well-watered seed, a love grew slowly and steadily until the feeling of soulmate rose to the surface. Eventually, I moved in with her on Cape Cod and opened myself up to this very new version of love.
One night as my Beach Bunny lay asleep beside me, breathing softly, my hands folded neatly behind my head, I stared out the window and thought. "Why does my current relationship feel so very different than with The Brazilian?"
The Beach Bunny and I were clearly a perfect match, but so very different. How is it possible that The Brazilian and I made a perfect match, and also The Beach Bunny? Two different soulmates?
If no two loves are the same, maybe soulmate and love are simply synonymous, a concept I admittedly find disconcerting. The romantic in me cringes at the thought of one's true counterpoint in another, as a person you can swap out like a player in a basketball game. How's that for an ugly truth? But she was my soulmate! They both were! ...Weren't they?
Ah, life. It's funny, huh? After my divorce I lost all but the smallest glimmer of hope that love, soulmates, magic, whatever you want to call it, even existed for adults.
I started dating again, and it was fun. Honestly, I was enjoying my new singledom, but after awhile the stillness of returning to an empty apartment night after night allowed the white noise in my head to clear. I came to the realization that I wanted to love and be loved. I wanted to feel like someone couldn't stand to be away from me, and I them. I'm a romantic. What can I say?
Then I met her, soulmate number three, and again all my doubts disappeared in an instant. Love, soulmates — it was all possible again. A paradigm shift happened for a third time, and in my 30s no less. She and I? That story is still being written. But she feels like magic.
So what does it mean if life hands you more than one soulmate? It means you have a passionate and brave heart. You're able to continue exposing that part of your humanity that is most vulnerable. It means you're an adventurer, unafraid of the scars you might collect.
Most importantly, it shows that you have been lucky in love. There are those that never experience one soulmate, let alone many.
"People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that is what everyone wants, but a true soulmate is a mirror; the person who shows you everything that is holding you back; a soul mate's purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in... " —Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love