Do you think we all have a soulmate or that people are ‘meant’ for each other? Research suggests that searching for this kind of romantic love has its downside.
Surely there’s nothing wrong with a bit of romance and romantic love in our lives? Well, it all depends on how you view potential partners. Research into relationships has provided an interesting theory. When it comes to potential partners, people fall into two distinct groups.
- Destiny theorists – Believe in ‘the one’, a soulmate, true love.
- Growth theorists – Believe partners can overcome challenges.
These are implicit theories of relationships. They are called implicit because we don’t talk about them often. The problem is that most of us think we fall into the growth theory group. In actual fact, we have a tendency, without knowing, to be in the destiny group.
To test which group you are in, see which of the following statements you agree with.
- You have to put the effort in if you want a relationship to survive.
- I’m looking for Mr/Mrs. Right.
- I couldn’t marry someone unless I was passionately in love with them.
- You can only know someone over time.
- There is someone out there who is perfect for me.
- I could marry someone if they were reasonable.
- My future husband/wife is going to be the most amazing person ever.
- There’s no such thing as Mr/Mrs. Right.
- The reason marriages fail is because people don’t put in the effort.
- The reason marriages fail is because people aren’t right for each other.
To see which group you are in, the following numbers are allocated to each group:
- Destiny – 2,3,5,7,10
- Growth – 1,4,6,8,9
Romantic Love – Destiny or Growth?
“I feel like a part of my soul has loved you since the beginning of everything. Maybe we’re from the same star.” – Emery Allen
Destiny theorists believe in finding their soulmate. People are either meant for one another or not. They do not entertain the possibility that people can learn and compromise with each other. They want the Hollywood kind of romantic love you see in the movies. You are either ‘the one’ or you are no one. Destiny theorists will put all their energy and resources into searching for the one.
Their success is actually finding this person. Anything that comes afterward is kind of moot in their eyes. Because they have found their knight in shining armor, or their princess they are sure everything is going to work out.
“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.” – Criss Jami
Growth theorists don’t believe in romantic love per se. They understand that every relationship will have problems. It is how you approach and deal with these problems that counts.
Growth theorists believe that in order for relationships to survive, people have to change and grow. In fact, studies show that couples who have successfully worked through conflict actually feel better about their relationship.
So what’s really going on here? In a nutshell, destiny theorists think that they have found the ideal partner and therefore all their work is done. There won’t be any problems in the relationship because their soul mate is perfect.
Professor Raymond Knee of Houston University studies implicit theories. For example, whether we take an active or passive role in our own relationships.
“Belief in destiny was associated with disengaging from the relationship and restraining oneself from maintenance attempts in response to a negative relationship event, whereas belief in growth was associated with endorsement of relationship-maintenance strategies.” Professor Knee
Reasons Romantic Love Has Downsides
Early stages of a relationship
If you believe that people are meant for each other then any problems that arise early on will be an indication to the destiny believer they are not with the right person. The person they are with is simply not ‘the one’ and they’ll quickly move, on, trying to find Mr/Mrs. Right.
More forgiving in a relationship
Destiny theorists tend to be more forgiving of their partners as they believe they are with their soulmate. This can lead to them accepting unacceptable behavior, such as cheating. They will avoid confrontation, especially if they have been with their partner for a long time.
Stay in abusive relationships
Unfortunately, many people stay in abusive relationships but the longer destiny believers are in a relationship who is not right for them the more likely they are to report violence. They give their partner more chances because they think they are meant to be together.
More likely to ‘ghost’ their partner when it ends
If destiny theorists do break up it never ends well. This is partly because they move on so quickly without a moment’s hesitation. Why waste time looking backward at a person that wasn’t their soulmate? This can lead them to ghost their ex-partner. They want nothing more to do with them.
Believe in Hollywood fairy tales
Yes, believe it or not, Hollywood has a lot to answer for when it comes to how we view relationships. Films where the whole movie focuses on the convoluted way a girl meets her soulmate and that’s the end of the film but we never get to see how they live afterward. That’s not the point for destiny theorists.
The whole point is meeting the one. And there we have the problem. Relationships are not just about finding your perfect match. In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect match. And this is what destiny theorists need to understand.
What destiny theorists can do to improve their relationships?
Destiny theorists can look at the way growth theorists approach potential partners and take a page from their playbooks.
1. Growth theorists are less likely to have a one-night stand. They believe that relationships progress slowly and don’t feel the need to rush things. They’ll take their time and won’t make instant decisions.
2. Growth believers accept there will be conflict and challenges in a relationship. However, they understand that by working through these challenges takes effort. Having a disagreement is not a sign of incompatibility. No two people can agree on everything.
3. Destiny believers give up at the slightest sign of trouble, but growth believers see a negative situation as an opportunity for greater understanding. They know that obstacles and the hard work put in to resolve issues can make love stronger.
4. Another way growth theorists differ from destiny believers is that they can separate a problem from the personality and the situation.
For example, the girlfriend forgets to buy her partner a birthday gift. If the boyfriend is a destiny theorist, he will think she is not the one for him as she should have remembered his birthday because she is his soulmate. However, if he is a growth theorist, he may remember that she had an exhausting night shift the day before and probably didn’t have time to get him anything.
At the end of the day, we all want to believe there is someone special out there, waiting to be found or for us to find them. This kind of romantic love is perpetuated by Hollywood but it distorts what real love is. Real, lasting love takes effort and hard work, as do most things that are worth having in life.