Is there such a thing as soul mates? We use that term assuming everyone means something similar by it, but like all terms and words that describe feelings and connections, we each have our own interpretation.
I think that all relationships are unique - that it is what we bring and the combined reciprocity of each person that determines the level of connection we perceive. We share of ourselves what we feel is called for in the interaction, though just as often we share of ourselves what we hope to see returned in the interaction. There is another sort of interaction though- one that simply appreciates and allows without negative judgment, the other person to be who they are and expects that the other will allow us to do the same in all of our complexities on both sides.
I think our problems of perception and probably all of our problems in connections with others, lie in our potential expectations of return. Exchange theory (sociology) suggests that we only give to the level we get or give to the level we hope to get- that all interactions are exchanges of value in kind (there is some degree of that in behavioralism too- we do what we perceive as being rewarded- whatever the unique rewards are to each of us). If it is not returned, then we draw back in disappointment a great deal of the time. Those rare few who are willing to extend themselves fully, and show their appreciation of others without expectation of specific return, are perceived variously as good and kind, but often too open (as if there is really such a thing) and also by some as naive and ripe for being taken advantage of. We often withhold appreciation of others until we see some returned to us. Why?
But is it our fear of being rejected that really determines our level of interaction with others? Is that fear what holds us back from finding soul mates? Is that fear a security related issue? Is our insecurity about self - that we will be judged and found wanting- related to all of it?
The worst that can happen when we open ourselves up fully to another is that they will find us wanting- that they will judge us to be unworthy of their attention, of their affection. Is that truly a terrible thing? Or is that feeling directly related to how secure we feel at being ourselves and how much we really like ourselves? There is the other issue that others may try to take advantage of us, and use our (self perceived?) exposed vulnerabilities against us for their own gain.
We cannot be taken advantage of unless we are willing participants. We do know on some level when someone is doing that. We do know when we are being used. We only have to have the courage to believe that we know and be willing to do whatever that means to us that we should do, once we know. So perhaps there never is a real risk.
If some person rejects me because I have revealed all aspects of self, including the vulnerable soft spots (a label that I wonder about choosing in this context) - then they reject me. I am not made less by the rejection. It might be sad (even terribly sad) that they don't like or don't want to share what I want to share, but it isn't the end of me... and it does not diminish me. If someone tries to use and manipulate me in a particular way because I have revealed vulnerable and fragile ego areas that they choose to attempt to exploit, then I am not really being manipulated. I have a choice on how to respond.. and I can walk away. What I can't do if I understand what is going on is to pretend that I don't know and then later feel resentful because I have done something I didn't really want to do.
All interactions are choices. Soul mates must exist... but perhaps they are more dependent on how much of ourselves we are willing to share and reveal, and not as dependent on finding some unique set of characteristics within another, other than the same willingness to be open in depth and reveal all including the inconsistencies. It does seem that it is the security within self, that it is how we feel about ourselves, and how appreciative we can be of another in all their full human capacity, that really determines the connections we make. Perhaps it is security within and trusting another-or does one have to have the first to be able to do the second?
Is that how we make the deeper connections that most of us seek?
I don't really know. I wish I did.