Are soul mates real or are you wasting your time?

We've spent squillions of dollars on movies, books, and music describing the rush we feel when we meet The One. We've also spent countless hours crying on our friends' shoulders or online researching "how to move on from heartbreak" when the person we thought was The One turned out to be The Worst. But mostly, when things look really bad, we are consoled by the idea that we've got a soul mate somewhere in the vast universe of human souls... we just need time to track them down. 

The idea of having a soul mate is more widely held than you think. In a Valentine's Day poll conducted by Monmouth University in 2017, "two-thirds of Americans believe there is a special person who they are meant to be with... including 35 percent who believe this a great deal, and 31 percent who believe it somewhat."

Can we use math to find our soul mate?

In the app age of Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble, and not-having-to-think-for-yourself algorithms, one man stands out for having tried to solve the soul mate question using actual math to solve for X. Randall Munroe, former NASA robot scientist and cartoonist on the humor site xkcd.com, starts with the premise that a soul mate is set at birth, and says that even if we discard the idea that our soul mate has either been born in the past, or has yet to be born in the future, we'd still need to consider sexual orientation, gender, cultures, and language. That would leave us with an estimated half billion potential matches (give or take) to weed through, he says. So if we were to spend eight hours a day, seven days a week playing what he calls "SoulMateRoulette" using an artificial intelligence platform that captures all our interactions with strangers, that system might be able to match everyone up with their soul mates oh... in a few decades (via Brain Pickings).

You can become someone's soul mate

But psychologist Shauna Springer says she does believe soul mates exist — just not in the idea as marketed by pop culture. She writes, "While I do not believe there is such a thing as 'finding your perfectly matched soul mate,' I've seen plenty of evidence that we can become each other's soul mates as the result of a deep and lasting love relationship. If humans can develop finely honed skills in music, athletics, and language arts, wouldn't it be equally possible for them to become perfectly suited and completely irreplaceable to their spouses?" (via Psychology Today).

Bustle provides hints on how to power up your relationship and take it to the next level, including being loving, kind, and doing good things for each other; compromising; finding a balance between "me" and "we"; and most importantly, recognizing that your partner might be your best friend. But even best friends need breaks from each other, so remember that your partner can't be everything for you.

Munroe notes, "A world of random soul mates would be a lonely one. Let's hope that's not what we live in." Sounds like he's got a pretty romantic soul for a numbers guy.