GPop and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary together in about a month. You may wonder how one celebrates an anniversary when one can't marry. Thank you for asking. Maybe that story will come later. This post is, however, about finding one's Soul Mate, or as some people would have it, if not spell it, Sole Mate.
Much of my teevee1 consumption occurs though the filter of DVRs, so I rarely see commercials any more, but I have seen a lot of fast-forwarded commercials for such sites as match.com, chemistry.com, eHarmony.com2, and then the racier commercials that appear later at night. The commercials play to people's dissatisfaction at not being able to find a mate that has similar interests, habits, and peculiarities. "Use our method," they claim, "and find the One True Person who is Right For You."
I've known people who have used these online introduction services. I also know a lot of people who have met their spouses in person at work, in a church, at school, or some kind of social setting. What I haven't found yet, although I have not done an exhaustive search, is a couple who met as a result of one of those online introduction services and then stayed together long enough to count past the cotton anniversary.
It's always seemed to me that the online introduction services are selling the Olestra version of snake oil. While the fine print might disclaim this, their large print seems to promise to deliver to lonely hearts a list of people with whom the user has something in common. The logic seems kind of muddy, though. They're delivering a list, but the message seems to be that they'll find The One. Perhaps the user is supposed to ignore the fact that the service couldn't narrow it down any more than that.
My (untested) hypothesis is that people are likely to be compatible with other people in a sort of bell curve way. If there is really one soul mate for each person, how likely is it that your only soul mate is geographically and temporally local to you? For those who believe that there exists one person out there somewhere that is 100% compatible, and that they have to wait to find that person, how much of a let-down would it be to discover that you, as a 21st century resident of Scottsdale, AZ, are only 100% compatible with some 17th century resident of Osaka, Japan?
The fact that people do find happy togetherness with other people they meet in person leads me to believe that the myth of One Soul Mate is broken, and it's not too far of a jump to see that the online introduction services aren't all they seem to claim. I suppose there could be alternate explanations, such as the idea that there is some sort of intelligent and intentional distribution of people that guides some folks to a mate and leads others in a different direction. However, I would guess that finding someone with similar interests and such depends heavily on a couple of things. First, you need a reasonable amount of self knowledge. Second, you need to be interested in the work/reward return in a relationship. Third, you and a potential mate need to have enough in common, perhaps from shared background or similar experiences, that you have a sense of cohesion rather than simply adhesion.
Of course, since this is simply observation that is very likely tainted with confirmation bias, I invite counterexamples and other hypotheses.
So - 15 years. Here's to a lifetime more.
UPDATE: As Baldo McNerdy points out, some of my best friends met that way. My memory of their courtship differs slightly, so either the storage device is faulty, the original file was suspect, or the retrieval mechanism is broken.
1For those who wonder about the spelling - Doghouse Riley's rants crack me up, and this spelling is an homage to him.
2I'm not linking to eHarmony, because of their not-particularly subtle rejection of same-sex couples. I won't shout, "Discrimination!" because it's their business, but I don't have to give them any positive words.