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Haven’t found your soulmate? This might be your problem

Whether you believe in soulmates or not, the idea of meeting a lifelong partner is high on many people’s list of life goals. But if you’re holding out for that elusive ‘one’ and finding it hard to meet them, you might be suffering from the pitfalls of a ‘destiny mindset’.

To some extent, we can blame pop culture for this phenomenon, whether it’s fairy tales, romance novels or movies. Watching others (often fictional) meet the partner ‘of their dreams’ has led many of us to develop high expectations around meeting our perfect match and establishing an instant and lifelong connection.

If you’re guilty of not giving potential partners a fair go, or you’ve been holding out for that perfect Tinder match, this article’s for you. Associate Professor Gery Karantzas from Deakin University’s School of Psychology explains the concept of a destiny mindset and the opportunities you could be missing because of it.

Holding out for a hero

Idealistic romanticism is pervasive in so many parts of our culture. From a young age, we’re encouraged to believe in fairytale princes and princesses; that there is the possibility of meeting someone we click with instantly, connecting in such a way that we feel as if we share the same soul. This perspective is the crux of a destiny mindset.

People who have a ‘destiny mindset’ tend to be less receptive to connecting with potential matches, and their perception of people can be biased or skewed, Assoc. Prof. Karantzas explains. ‘You look at their faults rather than their good qualities, or despite thinking that they could be a match, you hold out in case something better comes along,’ he says.

There are some serious downfalls attached to clinging to this mentality, he explains. ‘Because you have an image of someone that you’re looking for, it’s possible to narrow your focus in such a way that you completely ignore or fail to see someone for who they truly are,’ Assoc. Prof. Karantzas says.

By fixating on ‘the one’ – what they might look like or how they might enter your life – you could be missing important opportunities. ‘By not opening yourself up, you could be ignoring someone who is right in front of you and that someone might be a terrific person for you to have a long and lasting relationship with,’ Assoc. Prof. Karantzas explains.

If you’re waiting for something ‘better’, ask yourself: what is ‘better’ actually going to look like? Are you actually taking a risk by ignoring someone pretty great who’s right in front of you?

'Because you have an image of someone that you’re looking for, it’s possible to narrow your focus in such a way that you completely ignore or fail to see someone for who they truly are.'

Associate Professor Gery Karantzas,
School of Psychology, Deakin University

The case for growth over destiny

If you want to stop setting the bar too high and missing out on a potentially amazing relationship, what’s the alternative to a destiny mindset? Assoc. Prof. Karantzas recommends adopting a growth mindset, in which you have an open mind towards a relationship and acknowledge that both you and your partner will grow, change and evolve with time – both as people and as a couple.

‘There are couples out there who say, “I knew I’d met the one when I saw her…” But, if you ask the couple about their relationship, you’ll actually find out very quickly that they both have a growth mindset’, Assoc. Prof. Karantzas explains. ‘They grew as a couple, took interest in each other, dealt with changes along the way – and even though they met “the one”, they also worked at their relationship.’

Someone with a growth mindset embraces development, change and challenge. This differs from the destiny mindset, which involves accepting things the way they are (for better or worse) without being willing to work on it.

‘The destiny mindset doesn’t work when seeking out genuine relationships because people with this mindset don’t want to work as hard at it. They already expect it to be ready and perfect,’ Assoc. Prof. Karantzas explains.

Since we all know (at least in theory) that none of us are perfect, surely that’s an unrealistic expectation to bring to a relationship.

Making it work

If there really is such a thing as a soulmate, the only way to truly know if you have met them is to meet and reject every single possible suitor on the planet, except one. The absurdity of such a concept is laughable.

Instead, Assoc. Prof. Karantzas suggests a more open approach to dating. Find someone you like very much, and continue working at it so you can grow and develop together. He suggests a realistic way to enter a relationship is by thinking: ‘While there may be other people in the world that are right for me, I forsake all others, in favour of pursuing this relationship with you.’

So instead of asking ‘Am I the one for you?’ or ‘Are you the one for me?’ focus on making it work. Regardless of whatever joy or heartache you face, if you’re prepared to face it together, and you work through your issues – you’ve already won, regardless of what destiny had in store for you.

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Assoc. Prof. Gery Karantzas
Assoc. Prof. Gery Karantzas

Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Deakin University

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