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Thursday, June 27, 2013 01:46 pm

The upgradest love of all

I’m a single dad of three children, and it was a battle to get custody of them. For three years, I’ve dated a woman with grown children, and on our shared birthday, I proposed and she accepted. Two days later, she ended everything via text and hasn’t spoken to me since. She claimed she wants to come first in someone’s life, and my kids took priority. Didn’t she figure this out earlier? Three weeks after she broke things off, I learned she was “in love” with an older rich guy with no children and that she’s spreading lies about me to mutual friends. We had a great relationship, and using her words, were “total soul mates.” Now she tells people how miserable she was. Even her friends are confused. –Baffled

Chances are, your girlfriend long resented your prioritizing your kids but just sucked it up – until you got down on one knee and presented her with the fork in the road. With the prospect of permanence on the horizon, everything suddenly became clear: One road leads to a lifetime battling for your cash and attention, and the other has Snow White awakening from her coma and realizing she could get a better deal.

A partner’s use of the term “total soul mates!” suggests that one is either dating a 14-year-old or somebody about as emotionally and romantically mature. The idea of soul mates actually traces back to Plato. He wrote about a “symposium” (ancient Greek for “kegger”) at which an apparently tanked Aristophanes claimed there were once three sexes – male, female and this weird he/she thing. According to Ari, humans got power-hungry and attacked the gods. The gods were pissed. They contemplated annihilating humanity with thunderbolts and then realized there’d be nobody left to leave them offerings. Zeus instead punished the humans by hacking the he/shes in two – male and female – and after Apollo reshaped them to look like we do now, the gods dispersed them, compelling them to forever be searching for their “other half.”

Ironically, back here in the real world, a person who believes she’s your soul mate is actually a flight risk. Social psychologist Dr. C. Raymond Knee has explored the effect on relationships from “destiny belief” – the belief that people have “soul mates,” that relationships are either fated to be or they’re not – versus “growth belief,” the belief that successful relationships don’t just fall out of the sky; they take work. Partners with growth belief think that relationships are “cultivated and developed” over time, that problems are a natural part of them, and that working through them is a way to build a closer and stronger bond. A destiny believer, on the other hand, tends to see problems as a sign she’s in the wrong place and as reason to bail.

As for why your self-proclaimed soul mate dumped you via text and then trash-talked you all over town, well, some women are into shoes that match their handbag; yours turned out to have a cold heart to go with her cold feet. This strongly suggests that what she felt for you was not love but “love the one you’re with” (aka adventures in mercenary pragmatism).

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405 or email her at AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com).© Copyright 2013 Amy Alkon
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