There are billons of people on this earth, and yet so many people proclaim that they have found their one-and-only soul mate. Is it reasonable of them to say that if they haven't met everyone on the earth? Is there really such a thing as a "soul mate"? If not, then is it safe to assume that people simply settle for what is within their reach and then redefine what love means to them?

The idea of a "soul mate" probably has its origins in the speech Plato gives to Aristophanes in the Symposium, where originally human beings were combined, but then later separated by Zeus. This is a mythical explanation of how we look for our "other half." My huncch is that much of what counts for someone as an indication of being a "soul mate" will have to do with shared interests and other common points of view, and given how culture-bound much of this sort of thing is, it seems unlikely that a search of the whole world would be very helpful. This is not to say that two people of different cultures cannot fall in love and have strong and lasting relationships (my own marriage of of this sort, in fact). But I think the idea that two people will be just perfect for one another, before they even meet, so that if they do meet, they can recognize this perfection forever after, is certainly a myth. It may be that most people "settle for what is within their reach," as you put it, but this does not mean that what follows is that they "redefine what love means to them." Relationships begin with two people who are compatible enough to build a relationship. But every relationship takes effort, patience, and persistence. I think it is more likely that one's "soul mate" will be the result of these sorts of efforts, not something to be found antecedent to such efforts.

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