Contributed by Donna Marie

Having come out as someone who is free to be single, a friend asked, “Does this mean you don’t believe that you have soul mate, that one person for you?”  I thought I’d look up a definition of soul mate and found one in Urban Dictionary that I felt captured it well:  A soul mate is a person with whom you have an immediate connection the moment you meet — a connection so strong that you are drawn to them in a way you have never experienced before. As this connection develops over time, you experience a love so deep, strong and complex, that you begin to doubt that you have ever truly loved anyone prior. Your soul mate understands and connects with you in every way and on every level, which brings a sense of peace, calmness and happiness when you are around them. And when you are not around them, you are all that much more aware of the harshness of life, and how bonding with another person in this way is the most significant and satisfying thing you will experience in your lifetime. You are also all that much aware of the beauty in life, because you have been given a great gift and will always be thankful.

I fantasized about this experience and I must admit that there was a time when I believed my soul mate, my one and only, was out there somewhere to ‘complete me.’  Even after divorcing my original ‘one,’ I wasn’t deterred.  The way I saw it, he wasn’t really the ‘one’ so I still held out hope that there was indeed a ‘one’ that was the perfect one for me; I just hadn’t found him yet.  I took this belief into my relationship search after my divorce.  As soon as things started getting serious, I was hopeful that he would be the ‘one.’

Looking back on this period of my life with my free to be single eyes, I’ve come to a new realization: there is no ‘one’ person for all time.  Rather, I’ve had many ‘ones’ in my life, each one perfect for me at each stage of my life—the ‘one’ I needed to help me grow at the particular time.

Taking this a step further, I don’t believe there is one person who can fulfill all the needs of another which is what I used to believe and thought was implied by the term, soul mate.  As a result I used to burden my intimate, romantic relationships with the belief that they should be everything to me.  Now I think it’s unfair to put such a burden on any one relationship.

When I look at my life and the relationships I’ve cultivated, it’s hard to see how one person could be all things to me.  Each person brings such unique qualities that I have no wish to be deprived of this diversity.  While it’s possible that my coming to this point of view might be a function of being older and ‘wiser,’ I believe that embracing a free to be single attitude has allowed me to truly appreciate and accept each person in my life for who they are.  Rather than waiting for the ‘one’ to be all things to me, I see and appreciate the specialness of each person in my life and that has been a beautiful thing!

Free to Be Single is a recurring feature focusing on being single without opposition to other forms of relating.  It’s about discovery and breaking through the societal walls of what should be when it comes to relationships.  It’s about celebrating all the options of relating available to us as human beings whether it is to be a couple or to be single or any other iteration.   It’s about embracing and being free to be where we are.  Free to Be Single reflects musings of how my life is unfolding from a place of freedom as distinct from the past when being single was a missing and I operated as a victim.