我们有缘 (We were destined to meet)

The other night at a dinner party the topic of romance and star-crossed lovers came up.

A young guy said:

"I met this girl today on the subway and my heart started doin’ crazy stuff. There was definitely some kind of ‘positive affinity’ or what is often called 缘分 yuánfèn in Chinese."

The guy contined:

也许我们前世有缘
Yéxǔ wǒmen qiánshì yǒu yuán.
Perhaps we were related in a former life.

缘分 is often translated as a ‘predestined relationship.’ René was intrigued to know about relationships that were ‘meant or destined to be,’ so later that week he sent an e-mail to his Chinese language teacher.

She wrote back:

"缘分 is a positive affinity between two people. It is an opportunity to meet somebody, but what happens after that is not clear. Between a man and a woman, you can be destined to meet, but it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily end up falling in love or getting married. So you can have 缘 but no 分 (有缘, 没有分) which means that you can be predestined to meet, but don’t have the good fortune to be together."

René’s teacher was a firm believer in the forces of destiny and the meeting of two souls. She finished her e-mail with the following expression to reinforce predestined relationships:

有缘千里来相会
Yǒu yuán, qiānlǐ lái xiānghuì.
Though born a thousand li apart, souls which are one shall meet.

This was all fascinating to René, but he pondered for a moment that his true soul mate was in fact his own soul.

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