The Bell Curve

An old friend of mine once explained to me this theory that he has on life and love and soulmates.  It’s been such a long time since I saw him last, but I had the unexpected pleasure this past weekend.  At some point in our lengthy and sprawling conversation, I asked him to explain it to me again….

You know the bell curve?  Standard deviation? 68%?  Start with that.  I believe that if you put any two people together, most pairs would fall in the 68%… the majority.  They’re people who can get along with each other and be happy together.  They could make a life and be content.  Beyond the first standard deviation, to the left of the graph are the people that just couldn’t be together.  The second deviation being those who just couldn’t be happy as a pair… things between them would just never work out.  And of course, the third deviation to the left is the tiny percentage of people who would simply loathe each other from start to finish.

your standard standard deviation curve

But on the other side…, you have two deviations as well.  The second part on the right side of the curve are those couples who might truly love each other… those who can live happily and be continually delighted in each other.  These people are ones that have been especially lucky to have found each other.  They could be soulmates.  They could be each other’s “one.”

And the last bit – the tiny sliver at the end of the graph, that third deviation, the 99% – those pairs are divinely matched.  Those are the people about whom stories are written and remembered.  They are dynamic – flawless and completely enmeshed in each other.  Their lives and minds become entwined.  Their love is as one.

I’ve heard a million other explanations – one great love, one person for every person, opposites attract, the ability to be happy with anyone, and just plain falling in love – but none so eloquently imagined as this.

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One response to “The Bell Curve

  1. I suspect that you could just as easily expand this to consider individuality independent of relationships and that drives those numbers further and further into uncomfortably small numbers.

    You could describe a person in terms of their ability to get along with other independent of the couple dynamic. You could also talk about a person’s inherent…let’s not call it worth, because that opens an ugly can of worms, let’s call it…uh…stellarness, for how can one be star-crossed if you aren’t stellar in the first place? So, let’s say that someone is stellar but their proximity to another stellar person is not high, increasing their chances of not finding another of appropriate stellarness. Kind of like that psychology observation that most of the time, people are generally able to pick partners of a similar level of attractiveness (as rated somewhat objectively by outsiders). You could say that many people are not so stellar and, therefore, can pair with plenty of other non-stellar people. As stellarness increases, so, too does the rarity of finding a suitable partner.

    A wise woman once said to me, “Isn’t it funny how most people find their soulmates within 5 miles of where they live or work? Don’t worry about the breakup, you’ll find your soulmate eventually”. At the time I wasn’t really in the mood to reflect on this with anything other than blubbering, but I’ve moved on and take the long view of things now.

    Do you think that moving can help increase the n (sample number) of your possible soulmates? Or does one just trust that whatever powers that aren’t punitive to those living in small towns?

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