We've heard of seahorses, who are monogamous by nature. They can find lifetime mates. In their courtship, they dance, change colors, and swim alongside each other. So if they can do it, why can't we?
At the start of the year, I thought about my dating life and wondered, do soulmates exist? So, I began to welcome thoughts such as, "I'm okay being single for the rest of my life." Or "I'm okay raising a child on my own." At that point, I'd already frozen a dozen of my eggs just in case my “seahorse” doesn't come along.
In the last two years of pandemic isolation, I obsessed over how to build healthy relationships of all kinds, from work to home to love. I shared my research through Thirsty and Thirty (thirstyandthirty.club), a podcast show I co-hosted with a friend, Ciari Luna. This is where I met Sanaiyah Gurnamal, a life coach focused on soulmates, relationships, and self-love.
After 15 years of coaching people, she shared that she was launching a program called Soulmate Magnet, where you can learn how to attract your soulmate in an eight-week program with five modules, which include lessons like decoding your relationship patterns and understanding your inner child.
After being jaded by dating mishaps, I thought I was repelling any romantic love. But was it even possible to be a better soulmate magnet?
The origin and types of 'soulmates'
What is a “soulmate,” anyway? We've seen so much of this idea in films like John Cusack standing outside one's bedroom with a boombox. But, going way back, the first recorded use of the term was in 1822 by an English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
He wrote in a letter, "To be happy in Married Life… you must have a Soulmate." But unfortunately, social pressures created a rift in Coleridge's married life. And in the end, he separated from his wife.
Perhaps, he wrote that line in reflection of a successful marriage, one that was beyond economic or social compatibility. It was all about his desire to have that deeper connection.
When I asked Gurnamal how she defined soulmates, she said, "At every point in our life, we have a compatible soulmate. So 10 years ago, my most compatible soulmate was a different guy from five years later and five years after that. We're always growing. We're never static."
Often, we grow in relationships like we don't in other parts of our life. The kind of growth we get in a relationship is special as we discover ourselves, how we relate to other people, and how we respond and react.
She added, "There are plenty of types of soulmates. First, there's the romantic soulmate, and then other soulmates come into your life, whether it's your business partner, child, or best friend. There are also other ones like your soul family—people connected to you and who honestly are there to support you in your life."
A whirlwind romance turned into a soulmate match
Gurnamal's love story proves that you can meet your soulmate when you least expect it. Having been married for 12 years, she recalled their chance meeting, "We met at a wedding in Cebu. We just connected and found ourselves dancing all night. We enjoyed each other's company at a three-day wedding."
She continued, "Then I flew to Dubai, where I was living. He flew back to Manila, and everything was on the phone for about a month. And a month later, he flew to Dubai, where we spent a week together. He met my family. And he proposed the night before he flew back to Manila."
She added, "We didn't know each other. We just had a phone relationship. It was a long-distance relationship for a while, engaged for a month, and then, we were planning our wedding for the next five months in Bali."
A whirlwind romance can happen when two people are genuinely transparent with each other. Ravi Gurnamal, her husband, said, "I was true to myself and laid down every card I had and told her who I was. No excess baggage, so I felt free. I was lighter than ever."
Likewise, Sanaiyah said to him, "I'm a healer. I'm weird. If you're looking for a normal girl, I am not your cup of tea. I was straight up. I'm not a very domesticated person. I'm passionate about my work; I will not give this up."
It is their qualities of straightforwardness and radical honesty that makes them a team. Even after having kids, she said, "We're still number one to each other. Our kids know that, too. We're a unit."
Our obsession over finding soulmates
It's easy to hear Sanaiyah and Ravi's story and want the same thing. It's an obsession we all feel to find someone or people we connect to. So I spoke to Neil Lacson, an anthropologist educated in UP Diliman who now goes by the name, The Anthropologist Next Door, on society’s obsession on finding soulmates.
Are we somewhat hopeless romantics? As an observer of culture, he explained, "Humans tend to see everything as a structure or a definite process. So when it comes to loving relationships, we see it as something predetermined, or if you want to be dramatic about it, we believe in the concept of destiny that there's someone meant for you." It's unlike the connection of seahorses, which is purely for survival and mating.
He added, "The concept of soulmates makes people feel connected. Part of being human is having an identity. We create meaning about things around us and ourselves." He added another reason for the obsession with soulmates: "It's a form of understanding fear, such as why certain relationships don't work out. We sometimes rationalize it as ‘I haven't found my soulmate.'"
How do you find 'The One’?
If we want a relationship to work out, we can't rely entirely on destiny. I got mixed answers when I asked others if they believed in soulmates. Most were unsure. One candid answer I got was from a childhood friend, Mich: "Believing you'll end up with your soulmate can be dangerous if you don't tread carefully. Believe and trust in connections. Though who am I to talk? My 'soulmate,' who I chased my whole life, is snoring right next to me."
Gurnamal advised giving way to healthy relationships. "Often, we grow in relationships like we don't in other parts of our life. The kind of growth we get in a relationship is special as we discover ourselves, how we relate to other people, and how we respond and react."
When I asked her how do you find and keep a soulmate, she said, "There are three steps: first, get rid of your past baggage and learn not to repeat your patterns. Second, learn to love and accept yourself in totality. And third, create what you want."
She even shared practical tips for this Valentine’s Day. If you’re single, date yourself as you would like to be dated. And if you’re in a relationship, celebrate your partner’s love language, whether it be quality time, touch, gifts, acts of service, or words of affirmation. She said, “It’s a celebration of how you both want to be loved.”
Destiny versus growth mindset
At the end of my conversation with Gurnamal, I joked with her that I believed she had a magic touch. She said, "It's not the first time I've heard that." After she guested on our show, it was only a little over a month after I found someone I connected with. Only time will tell if our connection can be compared to that of two seahorses that found each other in the ocean. All I know is that the person is worth dancing with, changing colors, and swimming alongside each other.
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To know more about the eight-week ($997) Soulmate Magnet program, check out bit.ly/soulmatemagnetprogram or www.sanaiyahgurnamal.com. The program starts April 24 and ends on June 8. You can also reach out to Neil Lacson through Facebook.