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How to Resist the Valentine’s Day Soulmate Psyop

Has Cupid Made Us Stupid?

This is not the kind of news I enjoy sharing around Valentine’s Day, but Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox may be about to break up. At the very least, their year-long engagement is in critical condition.

Break-ups are always difficult, but celebrity splits can be especially painful. Fans may find themselves confused and betrayed; they may even wonder if it’s somehow their fault. To witness two beautiful people lose interest in each other is to grieve not just the relationship, but also the very possibility of love. If these crazy kids can’t make it work, what chance do any of us have?

They seemed to have everything going for them. A passion so inevitable it wrenched Fox away from her husband of ten years and the three young sons they share. A series of public declarations attesting to the unprecedented specialness of their bond, including the revelation that the pair were not soulmates but something even rarer: “twin flames.” Also they drank each other’s blood.

It may be cruel to mock MGK and Fox, but I don’t do it from a position of superiority. I’ve been there, and I’m just grateful my muddled thinking and poor decisions weren’t further enabled by fame and money. Like a lot of people, I absorbed our culture’s message that love is something you find. Turns out it’s more like something you build together.

I got my wife some flowers yesterday, but we didn’t go out for dinner. We never do; it’s too hard to get a table. And anyway we’ve been married long enough to have learned that the best moments sneak up on you. Nothing against Valentine’s Day, really. It’s just that we regard it the way seasoned drinkers regard St. Patrick’s Day: it’s best left to the amateurs.


What is dating for? Back when Christianity was still the default operating system of American society most of us could agree on a basic answer: to find someone with whom to build a family. Marriage was understood as an end worthy of careful discernment, a solemn promise made before God.

The stakes are much lower now; nobody expects you to answer to anything higher than your own personal satisfaction. Something the apps, with their dizzying array of options, encourage you to reassess constantly.

Christians can of course avail themselves of the technology without assenting to the ethos. But it’s difficult, which is why we recommend checking out Kingdom Coupling before you enter the fray. This online course will prepare you to date with purpose and self-knowledge, two elements often ignored by your average YouTube seduction expert. And this week you can save 10% off the Kingdom Coupling course with the code ALIGN.


Meanwhile, over at Girlboss, Interrupted, Align’s intrepid Helen Roy continues her deep dive into the War on Love. This week’s guest is Adam Lane Smith, who in his fifteen years as a psychotherapist and attachment specialist has seen battle-scarred veterans from both sides of the dating divide. Smith offers a refreshingly clear, no-nonsense picture of the differences between men and women, and how understanding those differences can help us find a partner for the long haul.


Raising two teenage daughters occasionally offers me fresh insight into the hearts and minds of women. I’m often struck by the irony that this insight comes about thirty-five years too late. I was one of three boys; all my cousins were boys too. In fact my eldest was the first girl born in the family since my mother’s younger sister arrived in 1949. (Tears of joy were shed when we revealed the gender). The result of this bro-heavy upbringing is that the fairer sex was a mystery to me during my formative years.

I don’t know how it is nowadays, but 1980s suburban Pennsylvania was still very much under the sway of a powerful feminine archetype: the high school cheerleader. That my mother had been one — at the very same high school, no less — did not confer any special immunity.

Had I been able to read it back then, Chris R. Morgan’s short story “Destroyer of Worlds” may have broken the spell. Or maybe the comedic psychodrama it portrays between two pom-pom-wielding Susans (also mom’s name, come to think of it) would only have confirmed my sense that there are some things men are simply not meant to understand. Either way, reading it now was both edifying and entertaining. “Destroyer of Worlds” is in issue two of Return and available online.


It’s a rare celebrity marriage that makes it five years, let alone 50. And yet Dolly Parton has been with Carl Thomas Dean since he chatted her up outside Nashville’s Wishy Washy Laundromat in 1964. What’s their secret? A recent quote from Dolly might hold a clue: “My husband is a loner. He doesn’t particularly care about being around anybody but me. He’s just always asked me to leave him out of all this. He does not like all the hullabaloo.”

Ah, yes: the masculine urge to avoid hullabaloo. To be left alone, in Dean’s case, to run an asphalt-laying company for 30 years and to enjoy the occasional RV trip with the wife. An inspiration for all husbands striving mightily to avoid a dinner party, opening night gala, or charity wine tasting. Heroes like Dean are unsung by definition and no doubt prefer it that way. Still, we’d like to raise a glass from the comfort of our own couch and offer a toast: here’s to many more years of glorious, manly obscurity.