Soulmates and Serious Dating: Helpful or Harmful for Adolescents?

Emelia Crump, Staff Writer

Relationships are part of everyday life, and they’re just as important and fulfilling as any friendship or partnership shared between two or more people- but when should young adults start taking things seriously in regards to dating? Society has shaped adolescents to believe in soulmates while these young adults are considering what they see in a potential partner. An impressionable adolescent may not take their own expectations of their soulmate with a grain of salt when attempting to find “the perfect person” in the time where most suitors their age aren’t fully mentally developed.  

Choosing to believe there’s a picture-perfect partner that fate will connect an individual with can shift an adolescent’s focus and energy to finding their “soulmate,” with specific desired qualities. In reality, this mindset can limit the chances a teen takes with someone who doesn’t fit into what they expect in their soulmate. For example, if Johnny focuses too much on how funny Sarah and Billie are, he might miss out on Joanna’s keen perspective on the world and how caring she is, which he may find even more attractive. 

Graphic by Vy Nguyen.

This isn’t to say the idea of soulmates can’t be a beneficial concept if taken with a certain level of skepticism, but television and books can romanticize the notion that there’s someone perfect out there for everyone and can encourage unrealistic aspirations, especially in the formative years of adolescence. Furthermore, teenagers have lived a small portion of their life. Taking a relationship too seriously early on, while simultaneously having the belief that the person they are seeing must be “the one,” has the chance of limiting future opportunities to meet others. 

Even more so, if the relationship starts too early when both people aren’t as experienced, it could actually ruin something that could have been genuinely sustainable if instead started later- which is why starting something more serious should be considered upon entering college.

When entering middle and the early years of high school, many teens begin to experiment with dating, which has proven to be a conventional time to start exploring romantic relationships. However, since teens haven’t gained sufficient experience and aren’t fully mentally mature, they aren’t always equipped with how to handle being in a serious relationship, which can lead to codependency or a lack of commitment. 

This can spiral into even more confusion and unnecessary stress, and since most juveniles don’t know what they want in a potential partner, a percentage of middle and, less so, high school relationships are superficially based on looks and popularity. As a result, false perceptions about soulmates can arise.

Once a majority of young men and women enter graduate school, however, they’ve established a more clear idea of what they desire in a partner while also having the benefit of being more mentally developed. As this is the time when the reality of life is gently being introduced, relationships should also start to be taken to a more serious level. 

In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, most human brains take around 21-25 years to develop, give or take a few years depending on birth-assigned sex. While this is different for every situation- after all, multiple factors should be taken into consideration before fully committing, it’s a practical consensus to help avoid any possibilities of getting hurt. 

Say that, theoretically, two high school sweethearts have been in what seems like a sustainable and steady relationship- they’ve spent the last four years battling the ups and downs of high school together as best friends, telling each other everything, being each other’s rocks. However, they’ve reached the end of their graduating year, and divergent dreams land them into separate colleges across the country. 

Although heartbroken, the couple’s young hope has them so fixated on believing that they’re soulmates that they don’t think about how the obstacle of college will affect their relational stature. In reality, the relationship they once shared has dwindled due to lack of connection- the inside jokes that used to crack them up aren’t being tossed around anymore, and instead devote their time to others, leading to their split-up.

This shows that even the most promising young relationships don’t always work out. In short, if you cling on too hard to one relationship, one person, one ideal fantasy, you may not give yourself the time to realize that even the friendly-looking stranger you see every Sunday at the coffee shop could be “the one.”