Bitter about relationships? Don't like the idea of dating because it seems futile? Refuse to believe in the idea of a "soulmate?"
Maybe it's just because we're all conditioned to be bitter and dismissive and disinterested. Maybe we all live in a world that's telling us at every turn that in fact, there's no such thing as "true love." It makes more sense to be polyamorous or to simply avoid the whole damn mess altogether. We see a lot of distressed and hopeless questions and statements on GirlsAskGuys, so we figured it'd be nice to have an uplifting message. You know, one that makes you want the "forever relationship" that it's okay to dream about and even pursue. ;)
Enter Mali and Joe, creators of The Soulmate Experience. They have managed to shake off the negative shackles and prove to the world that yes, soulmates - in fact, multiple soulmates - are waiting out there for you; you simply have to open yourself up and give it a whirl. They've published several books, including their extremely useful and practical guide, and The Soulmate Lover. They believe jealousy can be turned into something healthy, they don't believe fighting "must" occur in a long-time relationship, and they've got a couple big myths to dispel...
GaG: A lot of young people today question whether “true love” even exists. What would you say to a teen with such a suspicion?
Joe: “I would say yes, it absolutely exists…but maybe not at your age. ‘laughs’ All joking aside, though, I think there is true love and even if it turns out to be temporary, it still exists. It doesn’t last as long when you’re young because you’re going through so many changes but it’s very real.”
Mali: “I’ve experienced true love many times and in fact, I tend to stay really close friends with my ex-lovers. I don’t just jettison them out of my life; if they’re fabulous people, I want to continue to be in their lives. My advice to young people would be to simply choose well and we’ve got to have a high self-esteem. So at 18 or 19 years old, I’d be doing everything I can to develop a healthy sense of self-image.
Did you know there are seminars for men to learn how to target women with LSE (Low Self-Esteem)? Because they can be easily manipulated?
We’ve always had a difficult time in our culture since the advent of advertising telling everyone they’re not good enough. And now that the advertising has become even more targeted and precise, we’re all feeling worse about ourselves. We’ve got to find a way to counter that.”
GaG: Your work is called “The Soulmate Experience.” What is your definition of the word, “soulmate?”
Mali: “It’s an experience we can create for ourselves with more than one person in our lifetime. In the common media, ‘soulmate’ is overused and usually refers to only one person. We believe we can feel connected to someone, even many different people, on multiple levels: Emotionally and physically. I think most adults have had a taste of that.”
Joe: “Yes, and whether or not we’re talking about a primary partner, we can still have the ‘soulmate experience’ with close friends.”
Mali: “A lot of people are using our experience to improve their relationships in their lives; not just romantic relationships. The principles in question apply to relationships we create at work, with family and friends, etc. The same principles will bring you closer together and give you a greater intimacy. Of course, most are picking up our book for the romance part, so you can get that incredibly deep, loving, exploratory relationship that Joe and I have had for almost 14 years.”
GaG: Another common question is, “should you only have sex with someone you love?” How would you respond?
Mali: “We were talking about this with my 16-year-old daughter last night. To me, love doesn’t mean we have to be together for 6 months or a certain amount of time, or we have to be exclusive. I feel love for people I’ve only known for a very short time. The one bad experience I had – it was awful – I had no real loving feelings with that person. For me, I can feel love for someone I just met; I’ve actually told someone ‘I love you’ after only a few hours of conversation. Doesn’t feel to me like I have to hold off for a set amount of time before expressing heartfelt emotion: ‘You’re a super cool person and I’m glad you’re on this planet.’”
Joe: “I would say there has to be some aspect of length, though. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be IN love with someone before I slept with them, but I’d have to feel at least some love for them.
I think if we wait until we’ve actually fallen in love with someone before having sex, it could present a problem because it means we haven’t had much experience.”
Mali: “Exactly, because if you have so little experience, there’s a whole layer of awkwardness you have to deal with. You should be with someone you feel affectionate and safe with but like Joe says, I wouldn’t say you have to be in love with them.”
Joe: “I wonder if a lot of this isn’t the result of pornography, and wondering if women should look a certain way, or should do this particular thing with men. If you’re going to be viewing porn, I’d suggest looking for something more realistic; there’s actually really conscious material being made that gives you an entirely different perspective on sexuality.”
GaG: In your experience, which gender tends to get more jealous, or is that an impossible question to answer?
Mali: “What we’re sort of told is that women are supposed to be more jealous, and so they are. Imagine how many instances in the media and our entertainment exist, how many times between the ages of 5 and 15 someone will see acts of jealousy on the screen. It’s incredible; if a guy you’ve been dating for five minutes turns his head and sees something that’s even remotely female, the girl is supposed to do something about it. She’s supposed to be jealous. It’d be a wonder if a girl grows up and DOESN’T react this way.
We do a lot with treating jealousy; we actually have a 23-day course designed to transform your feelings of jealousy into something totally different. It isn’t easy but it’s very possible: When you see your partner looking at someone else, what you tell yourself about it is what matters.
So when Joe looks at someone else and I tell myself, ‘oh no, she’s younger and prettier,’ I drive myself crazy. Instead, I see that and say, “oh, she’s interested in him so he must be a really attractive guy!’”
Joe: “Yeah, but we had to go through a series of experiences (sometimes fun!) to reach this point, of course.”
GaG: There does seem to be a happiness and spiritualist Renaissance of sorts going on right now; do you think it’s because people are searching for answers more than ever?
Mali: “One of the reasons is because there are basic spiritual principles found across all religions and disciplines. These systems are thousands of years old, so we should accept them. Understanding that we’re all more similar than we are different is important; we use these principles in all of our work and they’re truly powerful. We need to have this Renaissance of the core principles, I think.”
Joe: “And I believe people are taking another look at religion.
Very often, there’s so much crap piled on top of the basic principles, and this results in expectations that you have to be ‘this way’ if you’re part of a certain religion. People are now turning away from that and returning to the more basic principles, which means they don’t have to deal with all the extra garbage.”
GaG: If you had to pick one key to a long-lasting relationship, what would it be?
Joe: “First of all, we don’t believe relationships have to be a lot of work. They just don’t have to be that way at all.”
Mali: “We like to approach relationships as play. I know that sounds simplistic but we simply want to be in relationships because they give us so much. They give us the opportunity to explore ourselves and find our differences, and find new ways to approach each other so there’s no conflict. At the end of writing our first book, we reached the last paragraph and realized that what made our relationship so fabulous is that we spent a lot of time looking at what is so great in our relationship.”
Joe: “It sounds simple and in a way, it really is.”
The one big myth of relationships is that you ‘have to have fights.’
I tried starting a fight with Joe once and he just looked at me, laughed, and said, ‘you’re trying to start a fight, aren’t you?’ I was so embarrassed and I realized it just wasn’t necessary. Another myth is that your sexual connection will deteriorate over time, that there are things you can do to shore it up for a while but in the end, it won’t be as satisfying.”
Mali: “We might only be a sample size of one but if even one couple can say it’s not true, then it’s not true.”
We'd like to thank Mali and Joe for their time and if you were feeling a bit down about the prospect of future love, you should feel a little better now, right? Life shouldn't be about backing away from that which scares us, nor should we give in to common ideas simply because they're common. Soulmates can and do exist; you just gotta go find them because chances are, they won't land in your lap.