A study published by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology may have answered that question. Professors Spike W. S. Lee of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Southern California conducted a study designed to figure out which mindset is more positive in relationships. The experiment was conducted with special attention to the two ideas people traditionally adhere to in their relationships. The first, that a couple was made to be together – they are two parts of a whole and have been searching for one another since their souls were separated in some sort of cosmic rift. They will be together forever because that is the way it was “meant to be.” The second, that two people chose one another and will go the distance because they have already come so far. They wake up every day and continue to choose one another to go through life with – to tackle the challenges and hardships while sharing the joys and successes. The study’s findings indicate that the “soulmate” idea of love and relationships can be damaging.
Professors Lee and Schwarz conducted a series of social experiments on couples to see which mindset had a more positive effect. Based on the results, it would appear that “we are destined to be together” is not the strongest foundation for a relationship – couples given stimuli that referenced this idea reported being less satisfied in their relationships more often than others couples. Meanwhile, couples who believe that life is a road that they will travel with the person they love reported being more satisfied and confident in their relationships.
The important lesson to take away from Lee and Schwarz’ research is this: people who think they are destined to be together tend to be less happy with their relationships when they are experiencing something negative in their lives, whereas couples who consider their relationship a journey tend to be happier within their relationships no matter what. All couples, regardless of whether they were destined to be together or chose one another for life, reported feeling satisfied in their relationships when recalling happy events. Relationships end for many reasons, but with data like this we can arm ourselves with tools to strengthen ours. Be positive and remember that life is a journey to find happiness. We are always moving forward, and everything takes work. Some things may just work out every now and then, and who knows? Some things may really be “meant to be,” but we all owe it to ourselves to remember anything worth having is worth working for.