I today met up with an entrepreneur with a cool idea. He graduated from college this past May and has been heads-down on his new company.
For some reason, we started talking about his break-up with a very serious girlfriend. They had been together for quite a few years. He initiated the break up and has been wondering if he made a mistake, if they will or should get back together. He wondered if this woman was, in fact, his “soul mate.”
I think many of us have been in this situation, often, more than once. Whether it’s in high school or college, you’re in a long-term and very meaningful relationship. Friends think you’ll marry. Parents may very much want that to happen. You’re the It Couple.
And, one day, it ends.
I shared with him my own POV on such things, not just to cheer him up, but because I believe them. I recognize that this likely is very much an ENTJ perspective.
A soul mate doesn’t exist. I don’t think there is one person “meant” for you. Of course, there can be one person with whom you share incredible chemistry, interests, and shared values. But, there is probably more than one person like that in the world.
In fact, I shared with him that believing in a soul mate can lead to a pretty unhealthy relationship based on co-dependence. I told him he is more than enough as a stand-alone individual.
People change, and so, the odds of a relationship in college working out long-term are pretty low. I told him that people are like software: there are multiple releases over time. I asked him if he was the same person today that he was when he met his now ex-girlfriend, and whether she has changed, too.
Relationships are about choice. I advised him that he can choose to “move on” and seek a new relationship. My view is that second-guessing doesn’t buy you much long-term, and it is an awful feeling to live in the past and re-visit old decisions.
In fact, I believe that happiness is a choice (more here).
Take one next step. I suggested that he take on one concrete next step to meet new people. It’s a bit like going to the gym for a workout. Once you’re there, it’s fine. It’s that first step that is the biggest challenge.
So, I tried to brainstorm with him. Perhaps, I thought, he could create and host a Meet Up group around an activity he likes to do, whether it’s cycling, cooking, or hiking. Host a small group dinner at his apartment. Coordinate a group dinner out in Chinatown, which is affordable, exotic, and informal. I told him to embrace being a single person.
I offered to hold him accountable on taking his one next step, if he wanted me to.
That’s what I believe and shared with him.