Reader Question – Recently, I met a fantastic woman and we started spending time together. I would like to take it to the next level, but she has so much drama going on in her life. It feels like a soulmate connection, but I don’t want to feel like I am competing with her family and other obligations for her time. (She is caring for her elderly parents who are both sick.) Since we can have multiple soulmates, should I just pass on this relationship and move on to someone who will not have so much going on in their life? I can’t really compete with a sick family!
Let me start with a little personal story:
When my husband and I met, I was temporarily living out of a suitcase in my childhood bedroom because my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. All hell had broken loose in our family, and it had fallen to me as the oldest to step in and help get us through this unexpected situation.
He wasn’t daunted and never saw himself as competing with my family responsibilities.
Instead, he stepped right in to support me and be my refuge. He helped me in every way he could, eventually even selling his own house so we could buy one together near my parents. For him, that meant moving to a new town.
He was my Knight in Shining Armor, and our love and marriage are stronger and deeper because of his support and thoughtfulness.
We Don't Find a Soulmate, We Become One...
The wording of your question is filled with red flags...about YOU and your readiness for a Soulmate Relationship.
Caring for aging parents, often while still raising our own children, is a fact of life for the Sandwich Generation. It’s a bumpy road, at best. Quite a few of the women in my circle of personal friends are dealing with this. We do our best to handle it with grace and humor, but some days it’s just too much. We need to vent and we need to feel supported. It’s wonderful to have each other as girlfriends, but it means the world to know the men in our lives understand.
Older parents, especially if ill, often revert to acting like petulant children. The parent-child relationship gets reversed which is uncomfortable for everyone. Sometimes, siblings disagree on what is best, especially if any of them are having a hard time accepting the aging process and the changing circumstances. Not all families cope well, but it says a lot about this woman that she is stepping up even in a contentious situation instead of washing her hands of it.
It also speaks well that she is making time for you. It isn’t easy to fit in a new relationship when you are already juggling huge responsibilities. She must see some potential for your relationship if she is willing to find time for you in what is likely already an overburdened schedule.
On the other hand, your comments about competing with her obligations doesn’t speak well of your readiness to be in a soulmate relationship.
For soulmates, support and collaboration are fundamental. The fact that you see her family obligations as competition for time and attention instead of an opportunity for you to lend a hand indicates that you still have some personal growing to do.
Soulmate relationships are rooted in the principle that “The Giver becomes the Receiver.” Or as my grandmother loved to say, “If you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend.”
That is also the message in Gary Chapman’s priceless book, The Five Love Languages. It teaches us how to show love in ways that are meaningful to the recipient rather than thinking only of what we want. Doing so has the magical effect of getting us what we really wanted, but without contention and hurt feelings. This simple shift in our own behavior can transform all our relationships.
Instead of looking at what she is (or in your mind isn’t) doing for you, take a look at what you can do for her. Can you show your romantic interest by first being a good supportive friend? What could you do for her that would have real meaning? It might be as simple as a nice meal that she doesn’t have to prepare or it might be helping her in some way with her responsibilities.
Be willing to experiment. Focus on showing love, then pay attention to what you receive in return. It may not be what you expected or thought you "should" receive. Be willing to consider that it may be something better and that you haven’t found love before because you were focused in the "wrong" direction. If you do this, you will be in a much better position to determine whether this is a potentially satisfying relationship for both of you. You may even find you love this new approach. If you do love it, then you are on your way to becoming soulmate-ready.
There are two kinds of drama in life – the kind that happens because of a specific situation and the kind we manufacture to help us feel more significant. The drama this woman is experiencing is most likely of the kind generated by circumstances. She may be doing her best to stay calm and balanced. If so, you can help. However, did you consider that by seeing her responsibilities as competition you are falling into the second category of manufacturing drama to boost your own need for significance?
But let's look at the flip side. What if she is making her circumstances seem worse in a bid to get more attention and sympathy from you? What if she is the one creating the competition to make you "prove" your interest? What if you have a history of being attracted to needy women? If any of these are a possibility, you will find out for sure by applying The Five Love Languages principles and seeing what happens. You've got nothing to lose. You will grow personally and become more soulmate-ready no matter what the outcome in this particular relationship.
For all of us, the love we want is also looking for us. It’s our job to clear out our own internal barriers and obstacles. These often come in the form of unrecognized selfishness, perceived needs that aren’t needs at all, old habits, and mis-guided views on how things “should” be. This woman may be a different kind of soulmate - the kind who helps you finally see and address these hidden blocks in yourself. When we give those up and replace them with better habits and beliefs of our own, love will come flooding in.