By Nicolle

Britney Spears got married there. Katy Perry wrote a song about it. Friends’ Ross and Rachel woke up hitched there. The guys from The Hangover lost their friend on a rooftop there.

What is “there”? Vegas, course. Sin City, with its infamous motto of “What happens here, stays here,” is the place where crazy things happen – but you don’t have to tell anyone about them.

That is unless you get married, win a huge sum of money and try to get divorced and split the $3 million winnings, but a judge won’t let you because he’s sick of seeing Gen Y disregard the sanctity of marriage.

Unrealistic? Probably. But it’s the basis of the Cameron DiazAshton Kutcher rom com What Happens in Vegas. And while such a scenario is more than unlikely to happen in real life, what the characters inevitably learn along the ride is a lesson we could all stand to ingest.

After a wild night in Vegas where they end up hitched and win $3 million, main characters Joy (Diaz) and Jack (Kutcher) are forced to remain married for six months or receive none of their winnings.

(SPOILER) After six months of honesty, self-revelation and letting down their traditional relational defense mechanisms, Jack and Joy realize that they’ve fallen in love. Now, while I’d normally eschew such a predictable conclusion, this time I think the writers got it right. This lighthearted comedy unknowingly goes against the grain of usual rom coms and illustrates a different idea of the word “soulmate.”

The traditional definition of soulmate promotes an idea that there is one person on the planet for you. Once you find that one person (who you should fall madly, head-over-heels in love with instantly), you’ll experience no relationship difficulties, no hardships, no problems. Your feelings of passionate love will never dim, you’ll never want to look at another person of the opposite sex and life will be easy now that you’ve found your partner for life. “Soulmate” implies that if you miss that one person, you’re doomed to live a life alone, while all your soulmate-finding friends skip into the sunset of happily ever after.

That may be a little over the top, but you get the picture. The traditional definition of soulmate seems to necessitate a “right place, right time” idea of destiny, and places an extreme amount of pressure on any romantic relationship you have. Then, when that soulmate relationship falters due to normal relationship stresses, instead of sticking around to fight for what could be the best relationship for us, we feel we have the right to bow out because a relationship we have to work for isn’t what we signed up for.

Instead of searching for the person we think will make our romantic lives seamless, we should be paying attention to the people who challenge us to be better. The truth is, there are likely a lot of people with whom we are romantically compatible and with whom we could sustain a marriage. Because of that, the question we should be asking ourselves should morph from “Who’s perfect for me?” to “Who’s the best for me?”

If I think back to the guys I’ve dated and imagine myself married to any of them, I can come up with a ranked list of which fantastical marriages would be easiest. One of my high school boyfriends would be easier to be married to than the other because we share more of the same values. A marriage to one of my college boyfriends would be most difficult because the way his extroverted personality interacts with my introverted one is exhausting.

I’m not implying that we should date or marry someone for whom we have no romantic feelings, or that we should stay in a relationship just because we want to be married. What I do mean to say is that we shouldn’t necessarily be searching for someone who completes us perfectly, because our search will then be never-ending. Instead, we should be looking for someone who makes us better, who challenges us to be better versions of ourselves in constructive ways.

What we’ll find then is that while we’re focused on the betterment of ourselves and our significant others, we’ll become each others’ soulmates. In the process of putting our energy into our relationship instead of concentrating on whether we’ve finally met the perfect person, we’ll begin to grow into a version of a soulmate that redefines our traditional meaning.

A soulmate shouldn’t be something we search for. It should be something we strive to be as we interact, relate, learn, grow, understand, love and change with another person. It shouldn’t be accidental; it should be intentional.

While the fictional relationship saga of Jack and Joy wasn’t intentional, it does demonstrate that in our single-minded search for our soulmates, we run the risk of overlooking possible partners who have the potential to grow into the best relational match for us. And that’s the kind of revelation I hope doesn’t stay in Vegas.

Advertisements