I would like to pick up from where I left off in my last entry about my Dad’s need for companionship. Recently a friend tweeted, “there are too many similarities between love and companionship. the sooner I know the difference, the better”. It is easy to cross that line and not know it because the boundary that separates them is very often vague. There are too many overlapping emotions. Anything that involves the emotions is complicated and at risk of being misunderstood. It is said that love is verb more than it is a noun.

Dad seems to tie companionship with a soul-mate. He uses both terms interchangeably. I, on the other hand, feel they could be separate, serving different purpose and having different characteristics. The fact that Dad have had several companions showed that none of them were able to fulfill his need for emotional connection for long. To me, these companions were merely there for a season. They connected with him and fulfilled certain needs at different stages of his life. I do not know to what extent he confuses them with a soul-mate. My criteria for a soul-mate closely resembles that of a covenant friend. I see a companion as someone who shares the same interests, energy level and possibly even the same life goals as me. We desire each others company so long as these shared characteristics remain. Once these change, we start to drift apart. There is less expectation from a companion. A covenant friend however, is someone who looks out for you and sticks with you closer than a brother, accepts you like a family, understands you inside-out, shares the same values as you and is willing to take risk with you for your own sake. A soul-mate is a companion and covenant friend combined.

And then there is spouse. Ideally, our soul-mate eventually becomes our spouse. But for a soul-mate to qualify as successful marriage material, there should be an element of romance and mystery. There is always something fresh about this person that you want to spend your lifetime knowing. And of course, physical desire counts as well. Personally, I do not know if this is a realistic expectation. I personally have not come across such a combination. Judging by the divorce statistics, it seems to be so. If a soul-mate has all the ingredients for what makes a good spouse, then it appears that most of us did not end up marrying our soul-mate. Why? Was it because the feelings were only platonic? Is there even such a thing among opposite sex?

Where does love fit in? I think love is birthed when we make a conscious decision to commit to each other’s well-being and to remain committed in that relationship for life, whether married or not, although I cannot phantom why one would not. When things go downhill, love forgives, keeps us trying and motivates us to recommit ourself. The day we step away from this commitment is the day we step out of love. Love, when stripped bare in this context, looks like this. Who we marry becomes irrelevant. It only counts in our experience of the love journey we have decided to take. The problem is, many of us jump into the love wagon too hastily. I am a classic example of someone who did not understand what that commitment means. I hardly knew myself enough to know who I want to spend this love journey with for the rest of my life. And for that, the journey suffers. All parties suffer.