I have heard the term “soul mate” so many times in the past week, it’s dizzying. In articles, on social media, on TV, in magazines and in my daily newspaper.

I do not believe in soul mates. Never have. As a tween, teen and young woman I did hope for, dream of, a life-altering love. But one person in the universe meant for me? One person who would be the mate to my soul? I was skeptical. Yet human — so at 22 years old (way back in 1996), when I heard Tom Cruise utter “You complete me” to Renee Zellweger, I thought it was everything. Everything. I also thought Tom Cruise was pretty awesome. I’ve since come to my senses about both.

Merriam-Webster defines “soul mate” as “a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament.”

I’ve been in love, lust and like, had crushes that didn’t crush back and had my heart broken. I’ve lost it all and won big. Throughout, I have never believed in “perfect” anything. Did I mention that I do not believe in soul mates?

I do believe that…

Two people can be very well suited to each other.

Two people can be very ill-suited to each other.

Love should not hurt, squash or render your soul defeated.

Attraction doesn’t equal a relationship. Or love.

Attraction is important.

Love is work and compromise.

Love should not always be work and compromise.

Timing is so crucial — more than it’s given credit for.

You can have many great loves in one lifetime. They are all different, and the next does not negate the last.

I love being coupled more than not.

I love being alone more than being with someone ill-suited to me.

No one else can complete you.

You don’t need to be complete.

Love is never perfect; it doesn’t come when you want or in the package you picked out.

You can have a love that stands out from the rest. A love that is the love of your life.

P.S. I also do not believe that “you need to love yourself before you can love someone else.” There is a whole lot that I do not love about myself. But my perhaps-always-yet-maybe-not-forever-incomplete self is able to love. After 40 years and some focused effort, I accept myself as I am. And in that, I am able to love and accept someone else as they are.

That’s enough for me.