3. Soul mates talk easily and openly with one another. Very little is left unsaid in a strong healthy intimate relationship. Because trust is high and judgments are rare, sharing one’s thoughts and feelings becomes less risky than anticipated. The result is that soul mates have a range of conversation that goes beyond the mundane, custodial details of everyday life. They share their inner selves—their hopes, fears, dreams, frustrations, and self doubts, as well as their victories.
This kind of communicating brings them closer. They develop the ability to read one another, to more clearly sense changes in the other’s mood or demeanor. This ability reduces the likelihood of being confused by one another’s behavior and minimizes misunderstandings.
Roommate conversations are sparse and undeveloped. Instead of talking about their thoughts and feelings, roommates are more guarded. Sometimes partners do this because they are carrying an old, dysfunctional belief that “the less he or she knows the better.” Or they believe that the partner’s judging ego is waiting to make them wrong. They don’t feel that it’s safe to “self-disclose,” to really say what is on their mind or in their heart. Being open feels too risky and vulnerable, so they hold back some parts of themselves. This closed posture reinforces the same in their partner.
Other partners have a limited emotional vocabulary; they have never learned how to put feelings into words, and this handicaps their communication. When a partner attempts to draw them out, it feels intrusive and as if they’re being interrogated. In both of these situations the danger is that conversation between partners becomes narrow, repetitive and boring.
4. Soul mates like and respect one another and enjoy spending time together. This is a natural outcome of being caring, kind, and attentive to one another. Having shifted their identities away from their “me first” egos, they dramatically limit their egos’ ability to cause unhappiness between them.
For example, they rarely compete to be right or better in some way or another. There is no pretense between them; they don’t play mind games to get one up. Very little energy goes into holding on to hurts and angers so they can place blame and cause each other to feel guilty. What they care about and give attention to is being open and honest and feeling close and “in love.”
Roommates unfortunately repeat vicious cycles of disappointing one another. This makes them feel more like adversaries, and they bounce from one power struggle to the next. Because needing to be right and/or in control is important in a roommate mindset, rivalry and competition leave little space for cooperating together. The result is partners who are tense, on guard, generally suspicious of one another’s motives, and not wanting to appear vulnerable. They rarely operate on good faith and find it hard to give each other a pass when little things go wrong. All of this makes it difficult to connect on anything but a superficial level.
5. Soul mates make one another a top priority. They make it clear, by what they say and what they do, that their partner is their number one top priority. They go out of their way to make the other feel safe, happy, comfortable, understood, and loved. This doesn’t feel like a pressure or a sacrifice; it’s a natural consequence of loving fully when your survival-oriented ego is out of the way.
Making your partner a top priority is part of knowing and loving them fully. It’s acting towards them in a way that says, “Your happiness and well-being is just as important to me as my own.” When your partner knows without a doubt that he or she is your top priority it ignites a tremendous amount of love and warmth throughout your relationship; they feel cherished by you and filled with the desire to give you the same experience.
Remember, as we mentioned in Chapter One that making each other a top priority does not mean blind loyalty to a partner who is physically and/or verbally abusive, drug and/or alcohol addicted, or mean spirited and maliciously manipulative.
Roommates feel neglected and taken for granted. Instead of feeling as if they come first, partners in roommate relationships feel somewhere down on the list after work, children, extended family, and hobbies. Any time a partner feels ignored and neglected you’ll have someone who’s angry and resentful, quick to blame and find fault, and highly vulnerable to outside temptations. Remember, there is always someone else ready to make the partner you’re neglecting feel special. Don’t take that chance.
6. Sexual passion and satisfaction are at their peak in soul mate marriages and long-term relationships. It’s not true that romance and passion inevitably wither with time. The problem isn’t time. Love and passion—that “in love” feeling—diminish when hurt, anger, and loss of respect take their place. Feeling happy and fulfilled with one another sexually is a crucially important part of any serious intimate relationship. For most couples sexual satisfaction has a dramatic influence on every other aspect of a couple’s life together. Soul mates appreciate this fact and make sure they are unselfish, caringly attentive lovers who value their physical intimacy and never use it as a weapon.
Roommates have lost that “in love” feeling and the satisfying sex that goes with it. If they are having sex it’s often mechanical—they are merely going through the motions. Partners with severely entrenched roommate relationships typically have very little sex (maybe three times a year), and a good number don’t have sex at all. Even though they sleep in the same bed they may as well be in different rooms. Between them is a no man’s land of awkward distance that neither feels comfortable crossing.
The above list of core differences can also serve as a guide to asses your own relationship. Ask yourself how you and your partner measure up in each of the six areas. Ask your partner to do the same kind of assessment. Your combined observations point the way forward to take your relationship in a new direction. Attention to any one or more of these areas will add love and passion to your togetherness.
If you are currently stuck in a roommate relationship you can dramatically change the quality of how it feels to be together. To do this you need a realistic picture of your present situation, a clear direction to move in, and specific instructions on what to do and how to change your behavior.