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Soulmates, Do You Believe?

I was flipping channels recently and stumbled across the movie The Notebook. Against my better judgement, Rachel McAdams pulled me into the story, and I watched it to the end. And cried, like I knew I would.

The moving story got me thinking about true love, love of your life, fate, destiny, soulmates, etc. Some people use the terms interchangeably, but I believe that finding your soulmate does not guarantee true love, just as I believe that you can find true love in someone who isn’t necessarily your soulmate.

But when it comes to my fiction: soulmates undeniably exist, my h/h always find the loves-of-their-lives and get their HEA. Every time.

In real life I have a rather moderate perception of the concept of soulmates. I don’t think any one definition would suffice because it is such a personal viewpoint. So here’s my take on the topic.

The explanation that best defines my personal view of soulmates is that of the Twin Flame. This is the most popular type of soulmate. There is usually one twin flame soulmate for each of us. Twin flame soulmates have spent multiple lifetimes together in past lives. There is incredible chemistry and attraction towards each other. They complete each other and only a few lucky people are able to find their twin flame soulmate. If separated, twin flame soulmates suffer enormous pain.

There was one man in my life a very long time ago who I believe was my soulmate. I swore we’d known each other before. We connected on a deep, almost visceral level. We could complete each others sentences, almost read each others thoughts. Of course with that type emotional attachment, the physical attraction is a given. I’ve never had such instant or amazing chemistry with anyone. Unfortunately, as I believe is common with soulmates, circumstances precluded us being together and the relationship ended with significant heartache for both of us.

Subsequently, I met the man who is now my husband. We’ve been married 20 years, have two fantastic daughters and a beautiful life together. We love each other more now than the day we married and I consider him my own personal hero. I have, in fact, found my true love in my husband. And I’d never give him up for anything.  Not even for my soulmate if he were to walk back into my life someday.

Looking back, I realize that my soulmate and I weren’t able to sustain true love.  I don’t believe we were meant to be together forever–at least not in this lifetime.  And it makes me think of that song by Garth Brooks, Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.

I count myself fortunate to have experienced my soulmate and my true love all in one lifetime.

I’d love to hear your views on soulmates, true love, etc. Do you believe? Did you find yours? Are you still with yours? If you’re a writer how do you (or do you not) portray that concept in your novels?  If you’re a reader, are there authors you feel do a particularly good job of this?  From a readers perspective, how do you feel about the concept of soulmates in the fiction you read?

70 responses to “Soulmates, Do You Believe?”

  1. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    Yes, yes, yes, and (thank you, God) yes.

    It is the balance, the completion one of the other, that gives the game away in my work. He’s a tactician, she reminds him some things defy reason. She’s driven to achieve, he reminds her (and shows her) success comes in many forms and hers needn’t result in an ulcer and a premature heart attack. Like two sides of an A frame, each supports the other. One may hold most of that last snow storm, but would fall without the other. It just works for me.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Balance – a wonderful way to describe it. Your examples are beautiful.

      The mythological explaination of soulmates–one split into two and separated at birth: the other half.

      In my work, I always choose heroes and heroines who will challenge the other. Push the other. And in the end, balance the other.

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  2. Hi, Joan! I’m glad to hear you have found your true love and soulmate. I know I’m very luck to have found mine early in life. This subject is a little raw for me now, though, because my lovely mother-in-law just lost her husband last week. It was love at first sight when they met at a dance and while life wasn’t easy, their love for each other sustained them. This Saturday marks their 50th wedding anniversary this Saturday. I know he’ll be with her in some way.

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    • Whoops–really should have proofread my comment before pressing ‘submit’. Seems my brain is holidaying on another planet.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Vanessa,

      I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking for everyone. 50 years — amazing, isn’t it? My parents have been married 53 and I dread the day one of them passes, because the other will be lost.

      So happy you’ve connected with yours. 🙂

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, Vanessa–how very sad for your mother-in-law to face that anniversary without him by her side. I’m so sorry!

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    • Shea Berkley says:

      Vanessa, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful to know they had a long and beautiful life together, though. That’s more than most people can claim.

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  3. Jeannie Lin says:

    I loved reading your stories about your soulmate and true love, Joan!

    In stories, I do believe in that magical chemistry between two people when everything just aligns and clicks in place, but I must be a cynic when it comes to destiny or soulmates. I’m definitely looking for the H/h to find true love, but I find the idea of a soulmate actually less romantic than a relationship that doesn’t quite lock in place and takes a lot of work. Even then it’s not perfect. It makes the HEA more precious for me. Maybe that’s why the idea of soulmates, bondmates, etc. in stories are actually harder for me to get into.

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    • Elise Hayes says:

      Interesting, Jeannie! I haven’t really thought about soulmates in real life. I do, however, like to see them in fiction…but only when circumstances make it really, really hard for them to be together. I think in some ways we’re both looking for the same thing–how characters overcome the (major!) obstacles in their path to be together.

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      • Joan Swan says:

        Elise,

        Totally! Conflict, conflict, conflict. Making it impossible for them to be together enriches the moment they figure it all out and scarifice to be together: where soulmates meet true love.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      I’m with Jeannie. I can read about soulmates and bondmates in fiction, but don’t believe in the concept of soulmates or “The One” for my own life.

      I’m hideously rational when it comes to these matters, and to me, the math just doesn’t support the concept of “The One.” (In a world with a population of over six billion people, isn’t it amazing that so many people just happen to meet “The One” in their very own hometown or at their own college?)

      I prefer to think that a satisfying long term relationship is a matter of meeting someone with complementary values, a compatible personality, an ability to compromise, and a desire to work hard at it, every day. These qualities are abundant in the male population, and I find this reassuring.

      (/Bones)

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      • I concur. The math for soulmates just doesn’t hold up! Like, what if your “soulmate” lives in Borneo? You’re screwed!

        Though, maybe that’s why people can’t stay married anymore. None of us can find our soulmate. We all need to move around more until we find that elusive, one-in-a-six-point-seven-billion perfect match for us.

        Honestly, though, I tend to think that most people are lovable, if you try hard enough. The question is, how hard are you willing to try? What do you get in return, and is that enough for you?

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        • Joan Swan says:

          Jamie,

          LOLOLOL. Too funny! You would be screwed…unless of course you have a penchant for Borneo… Or your h or h are in Borneo on a black ops mission… Or a family member was kidnapped and taken to Borneo and had to be rescued… Or…

          Oh, sorry. FOCUS!

          In real life, no matter how well two people are matched, soulmate or no, relationships take work – lots of it. They take patience and committment and sacrifice and acceptance…etc.

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        • Jeannie Lin says:

          I loved you put this Jamie!

          But just to be devil’s advocate, cause I started on the no soulmate thing…some might believe life and death is a continuous cycle. If you can’t find your soulmate in this life, your quest somehow brings you closer. Then in the next life, or the next, you’ll finally meet. 🙂

          That actually is a very nice thought.

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      • Joan Swan says:

        Tamara,

        When I did a little research on the soulmate topic as I was forming this post, I was floored by the numbers. they completely throw the idea of meeting that “one” other perfect fit impossible.

        Which is possibly why the concept is appealing in fiction. Because the idea of finding a soulmate fits the rest of our fictional structure: over the top, often implausible, worst case scenario turning into an HEA.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      I agree that a story where the h/h have little conflict and mesh immediately wouldn’t be as interesting, or even as romantic.

      My h/h’s always have issues. Big issues. Lots of them. Internally, externally, past, present, future. Conflict is the key afterall, right?

      I don’t find the idea of people finding each other and meshing immediately either plausable or interesting–even in so called soulmates. And believe that often soulmates may even have a rougher time staying together because of the intensity of the relationship in today’s world. And they’re definitely going to have trouble in fiction because we’re always throwing something nasty at them. 🙂

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  4. Darynda Jones says:

    When I was ten years old, my family moved to a new town. We had been there two days when I was walking to the bus stop and saw something so amazing, I was struck speechless. No, really. I stopped in the middle of a street and stared. It was a guy washing his car who was so gorgeous, so stunning, I figured i had died and gone to Heaven. I had never seen anything like him. When he saw me staring, he glared at me and I was in love.

    I saw him again a year later, recognized him instantly and made a mental note to marry him.

    Not really believing such a thing possible, I did actually get on with my life, seeing this guy about once a year by happenstance and falling in love all over again every time.

    I finally met him when I was 18. He was 27 at the time, and we have now been married for over 25 years.

    Yep. I’m a believer. 🙂

    Great post, Joan!!!
    ~D~

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    • Elise Hayes says:

      Wow, Darynda! What a fabulous love story. So nice to see it happening in real life and not just within the covers of a book 🙂

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Darynda,

      Your story reminds me of that Nora Roberts book. I can’t think of the title right now. But the hero sees the heroine in traffic, is stunned into love at first sight as you were.

      He continues to see her over the years, either in town, at the mall, in her car…but each time he tries to get to her and meet her, she disappears before they meet.

      In Nora’s story, the heroine moves in right next door to the hero and the hero is, like, no fing way. Kinda funny.

      Congrats on your LOYL (love of your life). GREAT story!

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      • Darynda Jones says:

        I thought of that too, Joan, when I read that book. Wasn’t it like Blue Smoke or something? Loved it!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Awwwwwwwww!!!!

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    • Adorable! I love that you were ten when you first saw him, and that your body knew, even then, that it’d met its match.

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    • Jeannie Lin says:

      Awwww….Go girl. You got your guy. *sniff* I think these wonderful personal journeys fuel our romances.

      Hubby actually proposed to me over dinner more than ten years ago. We weren’t even dating, just co-workers and living in different states. I gave him a disbelieving look and said, “Uh..no.”

      To this day, he says he meant it then and he never gave up. He’s the true romantic between us.

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    • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

      Yep, sometimes its just meant to be. While the numbers may not support “knowing him/her on sight,” like my example, some things defy reason. Hubble and I were opposite. He says he looked at me and knew he would marry me. I looked at him and thought, “What a dork.” Two months later, he asked me to marry him. We’ll be married 35 years come June.

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    • Shea Berkley says:

      Awww, I love real life romance.

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  5. Elise Hayes says:

    I’m not sure I believe in “soulmates.” The concept that there’s one perfect match for you out there in a world as vast as ours just doesn’t work for me (the chances that you won’t even meet each other seem phenomenally huge).

    But I do believe in true love, and that falling in love can happen in all sorts of ways, from that lightening strike when you see someone and just KNOW he’s the one, to the slow growth of friendship that turns over time into intimacy and love.

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  6. Hi Joan,

    Like you, I believe a person can find true love and a soulmate in two different people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject in a beautiful post.

    Natalie Acres

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Natalie–

      Totally. When I lost my soulmate, I thought the world had ended. When I found my true love, I knew life had just begun.

      Life is crazy, isn’t it?

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  7. I was lucky enough to find my soulmate, and we connect on every level. Sure, we have the normal arguments, and I’m not saying I couldn’t survive without him – but I wouldn’t want to test that theory. It wasn’t attraction at first sight, or even love at first sight, but we’ve had a bond from the beginning and it’s only grown stronger over the 15 years we’ve been married. Yes, I’ve felt a couple powerful “chemical” attractions to other men, but never such a bond as I have with hubby.

    As a side note – my friend talked me into getting my birth/star chart done a few years back and the woman who did it said my husband and I are destined to be together in some form in each lifetime. (I think she said we were close friends in a past life.) Kind of reassuring, if you believe…

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Anne Marie,

      I completely agree that living with your soulmate does not preclude the normal relationship problems. In fact, as I mentioned in another post, I believe soulmates often have even more challenge because the relationship is sometimes so intense that the pressures are twofold.

      Congrats on your “find”.

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  8. The first time I ever saw my future husband I felt like the world around me narrowed to a pinpoint right on his face.

    I remember being annoyed that he’d interrupted my volleyball game — really, who runs into a gymnasium in the middle of an active match and tackles one of the players? — but how could I be mad at a man so full of joy? Tall, broad-shouldered, and with a mop of curly red hair, he was the happiest, most beautiful person I’d ever seen.

    My breath rushed out of my body and my brain whispered, “This one!” I had to fight to keep my feet planted where I stood. I wanted to go to him, right away. I felt a weird, unfamiliar panic, like he was the last man on earth and he was going to vanish if I didn’t tie him down and drag him back to my cave.

    Ridiculous, right? I mean, it wasn’t my first visit to the candy store. I’d felt all kinds of love and desire before, but right then, all I could think was that everything I’d ever experienced had just been a trial run in preparation for meeting this one human.

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  9. Jeannie Lin says:

    Joan, just wanted to say these stories are giving me so many warm fuzzies! Thanks for the great post.

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  10. Fun topic, Joan!

    I don’t know about the whole soul mate thing in real life. Part of me (the scientific part) looks at the numbers and thinks, “No way”. But the other part of me, the emotional part that believes everything in life happens for a reason–even if we don’t understand what that reason is at the time its happening–says, “Yeah, that’s totally plausible.”

    My husband and I met in a ballroom dancing class. I was not in any way shape or form looking to meet anyone back then and only took the class because it sounded fun. I’m a timid person who doesn’t go out of her way to talk to people she doesn’t know, and my husband, if you knew him, well, you’d say no way in hell would he EVER take a ballroom dancing class. That day we met, I don’t even remember him in class and he doesn’t remember me. But I do remember everyone filing out of the room. For some reason, I started talking to the people around me about something that had happened in class. He was in front of me, and he turned around and looked at me, and like someone else said, BAM, it was like a lightning bolt hit both of us at the same time. The chances we would both be there on the same day at the same time were so slim considering who we are, it always amazes me that we met.

    When I look back at my life, I can pinpoint things that happened that pushed me toward him. Steps that had to happen for us to eventually meet, and if that’s fate or destiny, I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure it means we were meant to be together.

    There’s a Rascal Flatts song that says,

    “Every long lost dream led me to where you are,
    Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars,
    Pointing me on my way into your loving arms,
    This much I know is true,
    That God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”

    I like to think there’s a connection that drew us together. It just seems way too impossible to me that there isn’t.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      E, that’s destiny at it’s finest. You and Dan are definitely meant to be together.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      For the rest of the Ruby Slippered Sisters…E does a GORGOUS job of tormenting soulmates in her newest paranormal series, Eternal Guardians, coming out soon! The first is MARKED.

      E, care to talk about your soulmate theme in your series?

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      • LOL. Tormenting seems to be my specialty. Just ask my husband. I’ve been tormenting him since that “BAM” moment.

        My first paranormal book – MARKED – launches in the end of April. I really debated about the whole soul because (at least to me) it seems it’s been done to death (esp. in paranormal). My series is centered around a race created by the heroes (you know those guys…Hercules, Odysseus, Jason, Persues, etc…who were half god and half human). My guys aren’t these first heroes, but their the descendants of the heroes. When I was researching soul mates, I found this (and Joan just sent it to me a few weeks ago, so it’s cool to see she found it too):

        “[Primeval man] could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast …Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods … Doubt reigned in the celestial councils. Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained. At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He said: ‘Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and they shall hop about on a single leg.’
        —Aristophanes, Plato’s Symposium”

        So the soul mate thing has a direct link back to this whole world I’ve created for my new series, and it seemed silly NOT to use it. However, I didn’t want to use the traditional soul mate cliche because in a lot of ways (like many of you have said) it felt like a cop out. An easy fix to the whole “falling in love” in fiction. So I put my own twist on it.

        My heroes have all been cursed by Hera (Zeus’s wife), who wanted to find yet one more way to torture Hercules for having the gall to be born and finding such favor with Zeus. She cursed them each to have a soul mate, but the catch is their soul mate is always the exact opposite of what that hero wants or needs. He’s drawn to her, even when he doesn’t want to be and even when he knows being drawn to her may have devastating results. The female half of the equation never feels that tug and never knows that uncontrollable draw. If she falls in love with the hero, it’s because he’s somehow opened himself up to his humanity to let her see who he really is. And that– considering my guys are all descended from gods–is not an easy thing to do. They’ve been trained to ignore their humanity to be living, breathing, fighting machines.

        The soul mate aspect of these books has been really fun. There’s so much conflict when one half feels that draw and the other doesn’t. Definitely not a cop out, and at times, even a struggle for me to make it all work out in the end. 😉

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  11. Robin Cain says:

    Just reading your blog topic sent me back in time…phew, tough to get one’s soul mate out of a memory bank! So true that soul mates have an other-worldly connection. And it’s something everyone should experience once. I thank God every day for mine…even now.

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  12. Vivi Andrews says:

    Oooh, great questions, Joan. I love soulmates in books, but I absolutely hate it when the author doesn’t do the work developing the relationship because they are FATED and it’s like there’s no other option beside HEA. Such a cop out! But I also think the sense of meant-to-be in romances can give the reader the reassurance that the HEA will last after the last page. Those fated couples will be together for *eternity*. No divorce, never separated by disease or accidents. Forever. Because it’s Fate.

    In real life… there’s this quote from Kissing Jessica Stein that I absolutely love: “I don’t believe there’s just one person. I think there are, like, seven.” But then, I’m a single girl, so maybe believing there’s more than One out there gives me hope that I haven’t already missed my only shot.

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    • Vivi, I think there are at least, like, seven. Don’t worry! If your heart is open, you’ll find a true love.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      I think it was the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead (?) who was once asked why she thought she’d “failed” to sustain a marriage throughout her lifetime. (She was married three times, and was reputed to have had at least two female lovers.)

      Her answer was something along the lines of having had the good fortune to have extraordinary partners appear in her life at a time when she knew how to appreciate them.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Very true, Vivi. The whole soulmate theory does not a romance make. Especially not one that will stand the test of time and conflict.

      Which brings us to an off topic…which may be a good future blog subject…of creating a story that sustains the readers belief that the h/h will stay together after the story ends.

      No worries, though. In this market, in these times, a cop out soulmate theme will never get past an agent/editors desk. Of course there is the caveat of the multipubbed famous writers who can do whatever they want and get away with it. But, again, I digress to another possible future blog topic.

      🙂

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  13. Beth Langston says:

    I once read that every person has at least 20 people of their acquaintance with whom they could have a satisfying marriage. So if you want “satisfying”, then you have a lot of options.

    I fell in love with someone when I was in my early 20s. And he was horrible for me. But that whole “soulmate” thing screwed with my thoughts. I can remember thinking–“if we marry, how long before we divorce?” This from a girl raised in Pollyanna land where divorce is a dirty word.

    So I finally wised up, moved away, and started over. Then I met my true love. Not only was I besotted (and still am), but I knew we would last.

    Was I really in love with the other guy? Absolutely. But I liken it to being in love with chocolate. I really love chocolate. But I could not sustain a healthy life on chocolate alone. My marriage is like an entire gourmet restaurant. It’s all wonderful. It’s all healthy. Couldn’t be happier.

    My 2009 GH explores this concept. It’s a YA. The heroine falls in love, over the course of the book, with two guys. Both are really sweet relationships. And, I hope, readers cheer for one and then cheer for the other. But, in the end, one love must sacrifice too much to be with her and will be ultimately less for the relationship. They have to let go.

    Fabulous post, Joan.

    Beth

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Beth,

      We are on the same page. My soulmate wasn’t particularly good for me either. Did I love him? To an excrutiating degree. Do I still think about him? Occasionally. Do I wish we were together. Emphatically, no.

      My husband, like yours, is incredibly good for me in more ways that I can count. At the end of the day, I know he loves me for who I am, who I’m not, and allows me the freedom and support to be all I can be.

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  14. Shea Berkley says:

    Fun blog, Joan!

    I’m torn with the idea of a soulmate. It sounds very romantic, but it just feels too gooey. I’d be bored stiff within a week. The concept also conjures up images of perfection. Again. Yuck.

    But, when I was young, I told my mom I was looking for the perfect guy. She smiled and said, “That’s nice, sweetie. Did you know the perfect guy is looking for the perfect girl and you aren’t her, so look for a guy who’s perfect for you.”

    It’s kind of a quibble, but it’s really true. My husband is a good match for me because we fit well together. He’s strong where I’m weak and vice versa.

    I tell my girls that it’s a couples core values that have to be the same for a relationship to work. Everything else hits the table; let the compromising begin.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      LOLOL, Shea, you sound like one of my heroines!!!

      I don’t find perfection attractive or attractive, either. Of course, then again, I don’t believe in perfection…but there I go bringing up alternate blog topics.

      Compromising…key to life, is it not?

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    • Shea, what good advice your mom gave! And soulmates sounds great in theory, but in life as well as a book, would tend to be boring. Enjoyed your post, Joan, and the comments.

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  15. Joan Swan says:

    Announcing the winner of Elisabeth Naughton’s Stolen Fury, the first book in her Stolen trilogy!!!

    DARYNDA JONES!

    Congrats, Darynda! Please email your info to Elisabeth at elisabeth@elisabethnaughton.com.

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  16. Joan Swan says:

    Announcing the winner of Elisabeth Naughton’s Stolen Fury, the first book in her Stolen trilogy!!!

    DARYNDA JONES!

    Congrats, Darynda! Please email your info to Elisabeth at elisabeth@elisabethnaughton.com.

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  17. Do I beleive in soulmates. Certainly! My husband and I met three times before we finally we’re on the same page. I think someone above was trying to clear the path for us and had trouble the first two times. He’s my best friend.

    Great post to read before heading off to bed and dream of the continuing story.

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    • Joan Swan says:

      Aw, Autumn how sweet! Congrats.

      Have you all noticed how many of those who say they have found their soulmate have seen or met up with that person several times in life before settling into a relationship?

      Interesting….

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  18. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elisabeth Naughton, Joan Swan. Joan Swan said: Blogging on soulmates today: http://bit.ly/dccjb6 […]

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