One of the most misleading myths related to how loving, healthy, romantic relationships are established is the concept of the “soulmate”–that one person, somewhere in the world, created (or in the language of the religious, anointed) just for you. This concept is promoted and celebrated in church, in books and especially in movies. Who can forget the climactic moment when Jerry Maguire (in the film of the same name) says to his wife Dorothy (played by Tom Cruise and Rene Zellweger respectively) in the presence of a roomful of emotionally and sexually frustrated women, “You complete me.”

Hey, I get it. I’ve seen Jerry Maguire more than a dozen times, and that moment still gets me. (Actually, it’s among the many emotional movie moments that routinely make me all verklempt, no matter how many times I’ve seen them.) But a fixation on finding your soulmate is not the Grown approach to the pursuit of a loving, sustainable and healthy relationship.

Speaking as a man of faith, I do not believe that God has designated “that person” or any specific human being just for you. In fact, the concept of the “soulmate” is not rooted in the Bible, but Greek philosophy, which posits the male and female genders as incomplete halves yearning to be reunited as a whole. (As the story goes, the Greek god Zeus split humans in half as punishment for the offense of pride).

What God has ordained for us is a specific definition of love (one pretty consistent across all religions). What He directs us to in the Bible are the qualities we should look for and commit to in order to recognize and enjoy truly loving relationships (not limited to romantic ones), most readily recognized in 1 Corinthians 13. Not coincidentally, these characteristics, including patience, forgiveness and fidelity, correlate strongly with the relationship sustainers my co-author Zara Green and I talk about in our book Loving in the Grown Zone.

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