How to Find Your Soulmate

March 4, 2015


Freshman year of high school, I had the most wonderfully kooky English teacher.

She would go on feminist rants over Henrik Ibsen and tell stories of her youth — motorcycle rides with bad boys, torrid affairs with sailors, adventurous tales of self-discovery. One day, she told us the secret of how to find your soulmate…

“Take a piece of paper and list every quality you’re looking for in a partner. You can be very detailed, and the things can be big or small. They just have to be non-negotiables — the traits you really can’t compromise on.” It sounded easy enough. “But be careful what you wish for,” she cautioned. “It really works.”

Her 14-year-old audience looked confused. At the time, my list of non-negotiables likely included a cool AOL screen name, so it’s possible we weren’t her target demographic.

I managed to forget this little nugget until earlier this week. My newly-engaged friend Ilene and I met for dinner, where she told me how she crafted a similar wishlist before meeting her fiancé.

“I was visiting my friend in California and she was stuck at work,” she said. “I was bored, and I spotted her DVD of The Secret.”

Then we both died of laughter.

“But I was like, ‘Why the hell not?’ It advises you to make a list of everything in your life that you’re grateful for. Friends, family, job, apartment… Then you’re supposed to write what you want but don’t currently have, and to be very specific.”

When the movie was done, Ilene’s friend was still at work, so she went about making her list. She included an exact description of the guy she wanted to meet—his values, personality, even his looks. Next she wrote a timeline of when they would meet, get engaged, get married, and start a family.

She wrote the list in late October of 2013 and in January 2014, she met exactly the person she had described. (Cue chills.) And as she had predicted, they got engaged last week.

It’s not so much that writing things down magically brings them into being, we agreed, but rather that it forces you to take stock of where you are and what you really want. When you have a vivid image of what you’re after, it’s easier to help it manifest.

Of course, the listing needn’t be limited to the finding of soul mates. You could describe your dream job, your next trip, or your fantasy birthday party where Channing Tatum dresses up and plays the didgeridoo. (Not sure why that last thing came to mind, but it sounded kinda fun.)

Anyway! Have you ever tried this? Did it work for you? Or does it sound like hoodoo crazy-pants nonsense?

I’ve got no plans tonight, so I guess we know what I’ll be doing…

(Photo from Say Anything. Which has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (!) and which I might go re-watch when I’m done with my list.)

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  • sounds perfect! ill give it a try.

  • Do it all the time! I would disagree with this statement, though “It’s not so much that writing things down magically brings them into being,” because it is magic, but I believe the magic is YOU. We create our own realities. That is pretty magical stuff. What are you doing to manifest?!?!? Fun post!

  • When my ex and I broke up I did something similar, and though my new partner came in the form of an analyst, not the farmer I imagined, it really helped to prioritize what I wanted. I think this also helped me get past the little details I had conjured up that didn’t really matter in the end. This also reminds me…Say Anything is one of my absolute favorite movies, and I haven’t shown it to him yet 🙂 Good luck finding your love! I’m quite optimistic.

  • Love this! My friends and I have discussed something similar; but instead of just the nonnegotiable, you track three categories: Must have, would be nice and “cherry on top” (aka exotic foreign accent). Love your blog! I wanted to let you know that there are issues when viewing it on Chrome (You can’t seem to click on entries at all). xx

  • Hi Caroline–Love this post! The hopeless romantic in me wants to believe that this really does work magic. 🙂

    • I’m with you, Rachel! I want with my whole heart to believe this can work.

      I certainly think there’s something to be said for being aware of what is and isn’t important to you. But, I don’t know, I just feel like my list wouldn’t result in a soul mate two months later. I’d be the one who got the short end of that stick…

  • After a string of dud dudes, I rattled off to a friend all the things that I *didn’t* want in a partner. After listening to my long list of no-no’s, she suggested that I write down a description of what I *do* want, much like your teacher advised. I did just that and three months later I met my now boyfriend of four years. The description is sort of eerily him. I sometimes joke that I wish I had written down that my perfect partner would be more of an optimist (though of course I’m just teasing). I do think that me writing that description was more about me telling myself that I was ready for a deep connection with someone and feeling clear about my own values. It was about looking for the positive in people over the negative. I definitely would like to try out this trick again with career hopes!

    Love your blog!

  • I did this!! I had just turned 30 in May, and I wrote out a list and kept it in my gmail drafts. I met him in August. I look back on this list from time to time and it is eerily spot on. Maybe I should do this for the rest of my life as well. Love your blog ps

  • Hi Caroline,
    Somehow I found “A Cup of Jo”, which has led me to you. I remember reading your post about you breakup, and understanding you, and somehow forseeing something that would be happening to me a few months later (we also went to Italy on our summer vacation…). I come here often, since I actually understand what you are going through…it isn’t easy. I think I’ll take some of you advices 🙂 Maybe understanding what it is that we want could really help us to get it. Please write more!! And if you return to Europe, do come to Portugal!

  • I have always loved the American Foursquare house, and I always imagined it in an urban center. On my 30th birthday in 2010 I drove through a neighborhood with my girlfriends and I said: I’m going to live in this neighborhood someday. Fast forward to 2012 and I randomly clicked on a housing website that had a Denver square just listed as a foreclosure. My husband said, sure lets go tour it. I was convinced it would be a fun date and that was it. I didn’t realize one could fall in love at first sight,. I literally got goosebumps and chills, and knew this was my forever house. In the third floor, I thought, this is where my three sons will spend their teenage years, except I only had two boys, now I have three. I do believe that putting stuff out into the universe makes things happen. Also, when I met my husband, I was 20, and a sophomore in college. He was 27 and a professor, but we had the best conversations. I said to my best friend, why can’t I meet someone like that to marry? Almost six years later we did get married! Put it out there, sometimes the universe says yes.

  • Someone suggested this to me, and so one night I wrote out what I was looking for in my soulmate – really a list of qualities, but also how we would fit together. I wrote it like a (one-sided) conversation with myself. It’s sitting in my important documents file on my laptop. Several months later I met the most amazing guy who actually fits all my criteria. Funnily enough, had I been online dating, I would not have clicked on him: 12 years older, 2 kids, very very professional. But you know what… it was lightning. We were travelling at the time and so have written for the last 6 months. I am meeting him in Shanghai next week for the first time since we met. I believe in the list.

  • i made a list last year, and nothing happened 🙁

  • Lynn-Holly Fisher Wielenga,

    ha. Well, I did do something similar in sixth grade… and now I am married to him. The things I wanted: good at math, (I’m horrible at it and figured it would help to have some balance in the relationship)likes to dance, has curly hair, is tall, and makes me laugh. I married a lover of math, who is a great dancer, and is 6’4″ with curly hair. And I laugh more with him than I’ve ever laughed before. I think I was envisioning a blonde/surfer type in 6th grade- and my husband is dutch, brunette, and from Michigan- but the important parts actually came true! 🙂

  • Hey Caroline,

    I don’t really know you well, of course, because internet etc., but you definitely seem so much other than flawed… so authentic, level headed. If you are considering making up the list, would you please consider editing your blog’s name as well?


  • I love this!! I recently found myself in a similar situation (stuck at my cousins waiting for her to finish work/feeding the babies) and I picked up a copy of Patty Stanger’s book about matchmaking. She has a similar activity and suggest you start by manifesting roses into your like. Not kidding, I who have never received roses from anyone other than my parents got 3 bouquets of flowers in the following months in the most random ways! I think it works!

  • We did that in my church group when I was a wee little teen. I kept it with me for years and always brought it out when I was dating someone new. My husband fulfills every single item on the list perfectly

  • Michelle,

    I love this!

    I actually have tried something similar. When I first graduated from university, I was really struggling with anxiety, and a therapist I was seeing told me to write down list of goals (small or large) and to focus on that ideal. They varied from owning a home to snagging the most gorgeous/way too expensive dress I’d spotted. I totally forgot about it and actually came across it while packing last week and lo and behold, I had accomplished or *had* almost everything on the list. It blew me away. (Oh, and I’m packing up my rental because I just bought a condo – another thing checked off of that list! 😉

    PS Love your blog and content on Cup of Jo!

  • I have a friend who did a list, and it was amazing how God brought her the exact guy!! So astounding! I came to know my husband completely differently. I didn’t really have a list, other than I wanted someone who loved Jesus, and someone who loved to laugh with me. My husband had completely different looks and background than other guys I had dated. If I had had a particular list, I would have never been open to going out with him. Ironically, he was over with a couple other friends, and we watched Say Anything… back in 1990. It was that particular night that I knew I wanted to marry him, and we hadn’t even started dating yet. He is and always will be my Lloyd Dobler. We’ve been together for 25 years now, married 22 years, and he still holds my hand and reassures me when we fly, a la Lloyd and Diane. 🙂 All that just to say, it’s good to be open to someone you didn’t initially picture.

  • You had my attention at the Cusack photo.. but then I read it and had to share this too with my friend. Great advice, and great way of writing the story about it.

  • I am a firm believer in saying what you want out loud and writing it down.

    When I was in college about to study abroad in London, I made a wish over and over that I wanted to meet a sweet English boy in London because I thought it would be a nice story to have… Little did I know, he would be the best husband – better than I could dream up!

    Now I’m wishing that we’ll be successful enough to own a beach house in the US and spend our summers there. The thing about wishing and goal setting is that you have it in the back of your mind in everything you do and when the opportunity arises (or the person appears), you’re more open to the risks because you already see the potential.

  • This gave me chills! I completely forgot doing this exercise in health class when I was 16. Funny that even little, silly things I remember writing are now completely on-point with my partner of 5 years (nice eyes, loves labradors, dark hair – more importantly bigger qualities like talkative, smart, respectful)!