Best Friends in the Bath

Suppose you marry your best friend – and ask your soulmate to be the bridesmaid..

I was reading Chaotic Soul’s blog recently in which she celebrates her intense and sometimes stormy relationship with her soulmate – who just happens to be her BFF. It’s not a lesbian thing, it’s not about sex at all, it’s a meeting of, I don’t know, souls, for want of a better word.

Long ago I had a girlfriend.  We’ll call her Sian. She had charm, brilliance, beauty and a huge bum. Only the last saved her from my undying enmity (well, naturally – who likes to hang around with a girl who has everything you don’t!).

Sian liked men, motorcycles, Mensa and me.  I liked anything my conservative parents didn’t.  We fell into a certain obsession with each other – at least, that’s how it felt from my side.  We moved in together, sat in beanbags having immensely complicated conversations about the true meaning of life (which basically boiled down to ‘will the real genius in this room please stand up!’) and sometimes, we had baths together.

We would sit in the bath, little Rubinesque Sian and me, and talk about why we didn’t want to sleep together.  Basically, because neither of us were bisexual.  But we sort of felt we should be.  How could we be this close, our souls entwined, and not want to play with each other’s bits? I don’t know, but so it was.

The day came when it was clear I’d have to choose between Sian and my man.  One stood for security, solid middle-class values and babies.  The other lived on the wild side, and it was getting steadily wilder out there.  Marriage could be boring, but life with Sian – while intellectually stimulating and satisfyingly rebellious – was too far out of my comfort zone.

So I chose my man, and left my soulmate behind, no regrets.  I met Sian once, in some innocuous neutral situation, years later.

‘I don’t think about you often,’ she said, for some reason.

I think about her, though.  She’s one of the few people I’ve ever met who always understood what I was getting at, no matter how abstruse.  In her presence, I could strip down to my very heart.  I doubt she felt the same, but then Sian was a mirror, and showed only the room she happened to be in at the moment.  She had the knack of reflecting people back to themselves as they would wish to be seen.  I never worked out if there was a real Sian- or just an endless series of reflections in other people’s besotted eyes. I didn’t want to be a reflection of a reflection.

Do you have a soulmate?  How do you know when you’ve got one, as opposed to when you just both like shopping?


  1. I don’t know that I believe in soulmates. Many people have been very important to me for various reasons, and I would hate to put one above the other. My husband is the love of my life, but soulmate? No. Maybe I just haven’t had one, or perhaps I don’t quite understand it. 🙂

    1. Likewise, my boyfriend is the love of my life, but soulmate doesn’t quite say it either. In certain areas of life maybe – weird hippy dancing:) Anyway what is a soul and do any of us have one?

      1. I’m not a golden years person yet. However, the getting older bit has allowed me to drop a lot of the crap that seemed so important when I was younger but actually isn’t. Older and wiser? Yes. I’ve always seen “soulmates” as referring to someone who is a perfect fit (I’m not a religious person), and perfection doesn’t exist.

    2. I so agree about the perfect bit. I think as you get older you don’t really expect anyone to be that perfect knight in shining armour – you just want to be able to recognise the wonderful in someone imperfect, like oneself, and love that for all its worth.

  2. I have a soul mate, though sadly stated I don’t think I am his. He is my husband. I think that in my younger years when we met (he’s 11 yrs older) I was lacking in so many aspects of my life that I threw myself into him, rather than onto him. He became my everything. His goals became mine, his desires turned me into a person I didn’t recognize for a long time. Trying to claim that back and remain loving/loved can be hard. We’ve been together 17 years, and I still see him as the one I want to turn to for all things, but he seems to turn away and it is so heart breaking. He was my first love, the first man that treated me like I was of value rather than someone to use. He still makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee myself, and makes me swoon after all this time. He is my one true love, my soul-mate.

  3. That sounds rough. Maybe he fell in love with you because you’re you – and then you kinda became another version of him. Have you asked him how he feels? If the connection’s that strong, it feels like it should be mutual.

    1. Yeah, I’m kinda fascinated too. I have known people who’ve fallen for someone intensely at first sight and maintained that over a long time. Not me – I have to talk to the guy first. I think the subconscious chooses, not the soul. Sometimes the subconscious can get awfully convinced that ‘that’s the one!’ based on smell, genetic compatibility, little psychological keys that fit into (sometimes dysfunctional) psychological locks. For instance, I find myself strongly attracted to men like my dad – strong, bossy, complex, moody (sweet, loyal, loving, tender, vulnerable…). Then I get cross cause they’re annoying like he was, while loving them for the same qualities I loved in him. As for Sian, yes. I think truth matters a lot to me, but she was a born actor, similar to my ex, who could also charm the socks off people but be quite cold about them too.

      1. We humans are so complicated, aren’t we. Sure, some more than others, but that’s what makes relationships so hard.
        I knew someone like Sian. Never could figure her out. A 6th sense kept me from being fully trusting.

      2. Oh yes, very complicated! And yeah, I never really did trust Sian, wrongly or rightly. I probably didn’t treat her well in the end though, ending the relationship quite suddenly and unilaterally – so she would have been within her rights not to have trusted me either.

  4. If a soulmate is a person — lover or friend — who understands, accepts us and loves us as we are, and (most important) loves being with us as we are, then I think of all the humans on Earth there must be at least one soulmate for most of us. Thing is, we can’t search for them. Too many grains of sand and too few years of life. Right?

    Also on the other side — my ex turned out to be on the autism spectrum and had so many sensitivities and desires, constantly shifting, that I could never address them to his satisfaction. His counselor told me, with his permission as we tried to save our marriage, to stop trying to memorize his ‘rules’ because it wasn’t healthy for me. Thing is, more than once, when we were in her office talking about happy times or shared interests, she wouldn’t be able to follow what we were saying while we understood each other perfectly. That makes me wonder if there’s another wrinkle to this finding one’s soulmate business. Perhaps brain chemistry, or who knows what else, gets in the way even when it should be right. But does that mean there’s no such thing as a soulmate? These questions must be why so many novels have been written about such things. 🙂

    Sorry for the long comment, but your eloquent post (love your writing!) and the interesting conversation here really drew me in.

    1. Yeah, I agree about the basic maths – there must be 1000s of people who we could be very close to, in the world. I know what you mean about trying to memorise the rules – I do that too, but you never quite catch up. Why don’t we (and not them) make the rules? I dunno! And yes, I also get what you say about the novels. There’s Tristan and Isolde, Arthur and Guinevere – the legend of the match made in heaven, cruelly thwarted here on earth. Maybe we all want that, but does anyone really, really get it? I’ve never met anyone who has, exactly.
      Your relationship has beautiful aspects for both of you, evidently. So do you understand what’s made him withdraw? Do you see him that clearly? Or is that the part of him that’s hidden from even you?

      1. He saw my neurotypical desires for myself as something awful I was doing to him. Before the divorce he tried to crush my individuality, stop me from behaving like a separate person from him.Our relationship couldn’t survive the emotional violence. His diagnosis helped me understand that I wasn’t the horrible person he believed I had become after our marriage, but I needed a lot of therapy to get better. I’m amazed I survived.

      2. I think I can picture that. It’s terribly sad, but some people don’t understand that you can still love them and be your own person. It’s a ‘baby’ phase that some people never get beyond. But I’m really sad for you – I hope you meet someone who can be a soulmate to you in an ultimately better way, one day.

  5. The thought of only one soulmate is terrifying to me – what if you never meet them? I’ve always liked the idea of people having multiple soulmates who come into your life for different reasons, and if you’re really lucky, a few of them will stay in your life for good.

  6. Yes, I like that idea. It’s cheerful! I don’t personally subscribe to the idea that people come into your life for any particular reason – just happenchance and chemistry – but when they do turn up, I think we should make the best of them and learn stuff, why not!

  7. I can’t answer this for anyone but myself. Must be a relationship that endures disagreements and transcends the merely tangible. Must be one who can compromise and will accept same from me. And one who can apologize and know when I’m doing the same. Must be an active relationship.
    Lovely, thoughtful post.

  8. That’s a good relationship that you describe. Maybe that’s the best we can aspire to – that’s my personal belief, anyway – I’m not sure I believe in bonds of the soul.

  9. I like the new name, turnipsforbreakfast. I’m considering branflakesandtumsforbreakfast. Man, this post sounds REALLY REALLY REALLY familiar. Really. You, turnips, knows one of those girl soulmates … and there’s one other who is now living in San Francisco (married to a man) of course. Yep, I can remember the cafes and cigarettes, chats and endless conversations about how the world was full of poop and how much smarter we (were) than everyone else. Meantime, we’ve all changed a lot. One friend (in San Fran) is completely alien to me now and the other is still swirling about. And now; I am with my man. Apparently, according to a “test” I took on FaceBook … I’m wasting my life. Soo…. who the hell knows? I’m JUST old enough to not give a fuck about whether I’m “wasting” my life according to the values of a FB “exam”, and not so old that I believe I should get my act together and find a BETTER, more “perfect” man and a more challenging job. Then again, I woke up at 3:30 this morning and I’m going swimming in 15 minutes. That’s all I know at this moment. Love you, sister on the prettier side of the world.

  10. I’ve had friends who were soulmates when I was in my teens and early 20’s. I’ve also had to partners who were friends and soulmates. My ex-partner remained a beloved friend and soul-mate. Perhaps one’s real soul-mates are the people who love you as you struggle to become yourself.

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