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I’ve been thinking lately about this notion of “soul mates.” For most of my life, I’ve believed that there was one person in everyone’s lifetime that they were meant to be with romantically. For a long time I was still clinging to the idea that when it came to romantic relationships, we were like some sort of Hallmark Noah’s Arc where everybody paired up and that was that. For a long time I felt a sadness and inadequacy that I never got my life mate—it seemed like I was missing out on something really big.

A friend of mine shared her belief that we have several amorous soul mates in a lifetime, not just one, and each teaches us what we need to learn at that juncture in life. I like those odds a bit better. Another friend and I recently discussed how the whole forever part doesn’t make much sense given the transient nature of life. What a slim likelihood that two people would grow in the same direction at the same time and remain together for the current elongated life span. When it does happen, it’s rare and wonderful, but it certainly shouldn’t be held up as the norm.

I do think we each have a great love of our lives—that one person, often the very first we fall for—that we carry with us throughout our journey. But very few people seem to remain WITH that person for a very long period of time. Perhaps that’s what makes them so special—it’s not exactly real, more like a living fantasy, easy to idealize.

Douglas Fairbanks was definitely the love of Silky’s life. And though they only had six short years together, I see them as soul mates. This week’s photo is of the two of them in Paris on their wedding day. They globe-trotted in secrecy for three years before Lord Ashley filed for divorce and ended the legend of Doug and Mary Pickford as “America’s Sweethearts.” He and Silky were married three brief years before he died at their Santa Monica beach house in 1939.