“I believe that the universe is full of people who are part of our soul tribe. We might only meet a few, but there is more than one out there. We are connected and meet people who can help us fulfill our soul’s work, our reason for being on the planet. These soulmates are not here to fulfill our dreams, but to help us grow and develop.” — Elisa Robyn, Ph.D.
Whether it’s by fate or sheer happenstance, meeting a person with whom you make a deep, soulful connection is the basis for every lasting friendship you’ve had and every great love story that’s ever been told.
Conveying an entire conversation in a moment’s time through a single sideways glance, a roll of the eyes, or a knowing smile is just one example of what it feels like to have a soul connection with someone.
When you’re struggling with loneliness, however, the search for a relationship like this can seem elusive at best — and impossible at worst.
Throughout my own life, there have been many times I’ve encountered someone I was just drawn to — often for no reason I could adequately explain at first.
I just knew I needed to meet this person or get to know them better, or at least be somewhere in their periphery…like a curly-haired satellite.
Still, I’m the type of person who searches for meaning in just about everything.
Why is this person’s magnetism so strong? Why do I think about them at random times of the day and are they thinking of me? If they are thinking of me…ohmygods what does that mean?
Full disclosure: I believe soulmates exist.
I also believe in “true love,” at least in the sense that we can truly love another person.
And I do — for better and for worse — believe that the universe does provide us with what we need. Not necessarily what we want, but what and who we need — when we need it.
As sure as I am about my personal belief in soulmates, when I told my friend Theresa about the article I was writing on the topic, she straight up told me she thinks the belief in soulmates is “crack f*ckery.”
Crack f*ckery or no, soul connections typically enter our lives at the exact time we need them the most and may come in the form of kindred spirits, soulmates, or twin flames.
Many people believe in soulmates, kindred spirits, and twin flames, but what are they and how in the world — quite literally — do you find yours?
Are you lonely and in search of a kindred spirit, soulmate, or twin flame — or wondering if they’re even real?
I’ll tell you what they actually are; provide a handy checklist for how you can tell if you’ve found a kindred spirit, soulmate, or twin flame; give you the real lowdown on the statistical probability of encountering them; explain how the belief in soulmates can affect loneliness and our approach to relationships; and share a bit of fascinating info about the mythology and lore behind their existence.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series The Roots Of Loneliness Project, the first-of-its-kind resource that comprehensively explores the phenomenon of loneliness and over 100 types that we might experience over the course of our lives.
Types Of Soul Connections: Kindred Spirits, Soulmates, And Twin Flames + Infographic Checklist
(Click on the infographic above to see a larger version)
What Are Kindred Spirits?
What Are Kindred Spirits:
Kindred Spirits are the people who we just seem to “click” with naturally and effortlessly. You immediately like that person and get along very well with one another.
Kindred spirits are people that you can easily converse with because they just seem to “get” you. They might be members of the same or the opposite sex and may be of a similar or vastly different age.
Kindred spirits also share similar ideologies and energy frequencies with us — which is why the relationship brings instant comfort and familiarity. You can find a kindred spirit in romantic partners, family members, friends, and even pets.
Have you ever met someone and instantly felt a connection with them — feeling as though you’ve known them for your entire life, even if you only met two minutes ago?
If this has happened to you, you may have encountered a kindred spirit.
Conversation with kindred spirits comes easy because you immediately like one another and share a mutual respect.
Kindred spirits feel familiar to us because they share the same energy frequency; our vibrations match theirs and our similarities are increased in kind.
“I think people can be highly compatible with many people,” life coach Stacy Caprio told us, adding that the soul connections we make may be friends, neighbors, people at work, romantic partners, or spouses.
That isn’t to say your kindred spirits are going to be exactly like you, however.
People are unique individuals full of thoughts and feelings and opinions, and kindred spirits are no exception. They may have different interests or hobbies, but your kindred spirits’ core ideals will likely fall in line with yours.
One can have many kindred spirits and with any luck, we’ll find lots of them as we journey onward through life, although there will be times when it feels like we’re never quite connecting with anyone in this way.
When you find them, kindred spirits are supportive, positive, and will enhance your life in general. And truth be told, everyone needs a support network like that — whether they’re struggling with loneliness or not.
Whether you believe that is entirely dependent upon whether you believe in reincarnation, but it makes sense that you’d come across certain souls throughout different lifetimes if reincarnation is real.
Regardless, kindred spirits can make you think to yourself, “These are my people, this is my tribe,” when you’ve found them. You’re perfectly in tune with one another and any disagreements are settled amicably.
Some people will have long-term “forever” friendships or familial relationships with a kindred spirit, and others may only enjoy brief encounters if that’s all their life circumstances will allow at a certain point in time.
The gravity between kindred spirits is such that for the duration of their time together, they have each other’s backs without question, they help each other to grow and flourish, and their lives are simply made better by associating with one another.
Bottom Line: Kindred spirits are people you feel an instant connection with, and who share a similar ideology with you. Conversation with kindred spirits is easy, comfortable, and rooted in mutual respect. Kindred spirits can be friends, family members, and sometimes romantic partners who have each other’s backs and help one another to grow and flourish.
What Are Soulmates?
What Are Soulmates:
Soulmates are like-minded people you connect with on a level that goes far deeper than that of kindred spirits.
Soulmate relationships make you feel at ease because you complement one another. You can be yourself around a soulmate, which means that honesty is a key component of your relationship.
Soulmates are people who are truly there for you whenever you need them, and they understand you on a deep, spiritual level. As with kindred spirits, age and gender are not factors.
Soulmates can be romantic relationships, but they can also be family members or friends.
Michelle Brock, a spiritual life coach who specializes in past life regression, told us:
“I believe that a soulmate is someone that we knew before in a past life and when we meet again in our current life it can feature a feeling of déjà vu or familiarity.
These soulmate relationships have a feeling of ease around them. They are peaceful, supportive, and many times they feature a feeling of being understood on a deep, soul level.”
Whether you believe in past lives or not, the feeling you get when you’ve met a soulmate often leaves you with a deep sense of connection that goes beyond anything you’ve felt before – although sometimes not in a positive way (more below).
There are three types of soulmates you might encounter on your journey through life:
A soul friend is a lot like a kindred spirit, but the connection runs deeper. Your personalities are agreeable like kindred spirits, but your relationship feels rooted in their essence.
You can be yourself with a soul friend. You may have gone through a difficult time together, or you may have helped one another transition through a particularly challenging time.
A soul teacher is someone who comes into our lives and helps us to learn a specific lesson or set of lessons. This may be deliberate or unintentional, but through our association with them, soul teachers help us to grow.
These relationships may not always be joyful and positive; a soul teacher might even arrive as a bully who forces you to handle the situation and learn from the experience.
Humans grow from challenges. Negative experiences certainly do challenge us, oftentimes more than we’d like, but every single one of them is an opportunity for further growth.
A soul companion is typically what people envision when they hear the word, “soulmate.” Soul companions are both friends and teachers.
Soul companions may not be a part of your life for the entire duration, but they can be lasting romantic partners or spouses.
As people grow and change, however, soul companions may drift apart with time. Even if they choose separate paths down the line, true soul companions remain tethered to one another as friends.
A person can have many soulmates and at times, it can feel like they know you better than you know yourself.
“We don’t have ‘one’ soulmate, we have many,” Michelle told us. “We have spiritual connections with lovers, but also friends, parents, siblings, children, co-workers, etc.”
Intuitive life coach and spiritual guide Sheila Hill agrees:
“To me, a soulmate is anyone who has some significant, and sometimes not even consciously significant, role to play in our souls’ journey here as human beings.
Our parents, partners, friends, and possibly even the clerk at the grocery store are here as actors in our play to help us remember our divinity and clear the karmic imprint we brought into this lifetime.
I would say that one would ‘know’ you have had a soulmate relationship or interaction when a deeper understanding of self is the result. Life is the journey back to self so it isn’t a ‘one and done’ kind of process.”
Here’s a fun video about soulmates:
Bottom Line: Soulmates connect with us on a level that goes deeper than that of kindred spirits. There are three types of soulmates: soul friends, soul teachers, and soul companions. Soul friends share agreeable personalities and may help one another through difficult periods in their lives. Soul teachers help us to learn valuable life lessons. Soul companions are what people think of when they hear the term, “soulmates,” and offer the best parts of soul friends and soul teachers. A person can have many soulmates and they can be friends, family members, co-workers, and romantic partners.
What Are Twin Flames?
What Are Twin Flames:
Twin flames feel like the other half of your own soul. You connect with this person on every level: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Twin flames, when life circumstances allow them to be together, are typically sexual relationships because there is a high degree of attraction between the two people.
Finding a twin flame feels like destiny, as though it was simply meant to be. Twin flames can be opposites in a lot of ways but this is because when they are brought together, they bring perfect balance to one another.
The twin flame relationship is one of unconditional love.
Twin flames are sometimes known as soul twins or mirror souls. Where your soulmates will have an energy that is similar to yours, your twin flame shares a specific energy that is unique to the pair.
In fact, twin flames are thought of as being the actual other half of your own soul.
One theory is that when a soul reaches a high enough energy frequency, it splits in two. (I cover more about the split-apart soul theory in the section discussing the myths and legends behind soulmates and twin flames.)
The bond with a twin flame is instant and magnetic, although the beginning of the relationship can be turbulent when you first come together.
Oftentimes, this is a result of the pair meeting at a less-than-desirable time: one (or both) might be in a relationship already, or there is some other obstacle standing in the way.
My cousin Laura told me about her twin flame, Mike, a man she felt a deep connection with since their kindergarten days together.
She had watched him from afar for many years and they shared an idyllic kiss in middle school.
“I remember waiting for him outside his house,” Laura told me. “My grandmother lived around the corner from him and he was the cool guy every girl wanted. Later, I would see him around birthday parties and such; every so often our paths crossed.”
It seemed as though every time their paths would cross over the years and eventual decades that followed, one or both of them were caught up in their own lives and unavailable to one another.
Laura was in a relationship, or Mike was in a relationship, and the timing was never quite right.
At one point in their lives, she was ready for a relationship and he was unattached, but he wasn’t ready and Laura was absolutely crushed.
Mike made the occasional inquiry about Laura to her daughter afterward, but Laura “avoided him like the plague!”
The winds finally began to change course shortly after Laura’s 40th birthday. “He went to my daughter again and said, ‘Have your mother call me,’ and the rest is history,” she told us.
They’ve been together for eight years and just bought their first house after living in the same house around the corner from Laura’s grandmother — the one Mike lived in when they were children.
Hearing a story like this certainly makes one wonder if fate does indeed exist.
“I felt this is where and who I belong with,” Laura told me. “Both of our grandmothers, who were so close to us, passed in 2003 — same year, same month.”
“I always feel like they pushed us together from above because he was going to need me when he [later] lost his mother, and they were right.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better person to spend the rest of my life with,” Laura added. “He jokes that I finally wore him down but hey — whatever works!”
Twin flames tend to be opposites but they bring perfect balance to one another.
For this reason, there is an undercurrent of unconditional love between them and annoying habits are easily overlooked.
They typically share the same core ideologies and morals, and once they get their bearings, the relationship connects on every possible level: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
As you can probably imagine, the sexual attraction between twin flames goes way beyond the physical — there’s an intense and passionate connection between them.
The theory suggests that, because these souls were once split apart, twin flames want to become one again.
Twin flames also have an empathic link to each other. With a deep spiritual connection in place, twin flames can sense their partner’s emotions — even when no words are being spoken.
There may be certain synchronicities between twin flames, like thinking or dreaming about each other at the same time (or even before actually meeting in person), and they may experience “random” coincidences of being in the same place at the same time.
Twin flame relationships feel like they were written into existence with destiny’s own pen. They grow and evolve together, and they know one another better than anyone else on earth.
Bottom Line: Twin flames share the same energy with one another. Their attraction is instant and magnetic, although the relationship can be turbulent in the beginning due to outside circumstances. Twin flames connect on every level: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. There is a strong sexual attraction and a feeling of destiny associated with twin flames as if they were simply meant to be.
This is probably the million-dollar question: Do soulmates or soul connections actually exist?
My mom Jolyn thinks it depends on what we believe.
“I think we’re encouraged to believe they are real because people claim/demonstrate they’ve found theirs,” Jolyn told us.
“It’s a connection of senses, maybe similar to experiences expressed by identical twins. A spark felt in the heart and gut of pure empathy, understanding, sense of sameness, an energy connection of sorts.”
“But all is up to the belief in fate as well,” she added. “For some, it happens but for most probably not.”
The Real Probability (Or Improbability) Of Soulmates
Oh, how I hate to burst your bubble with this section, but I’m going to anyway because I’m nothing if not thorough.
Particularly if you’re feeling lonely because you haven’t found a soul connection with someone yet, it’s important to understand that you are far from alone in your struggle.
Written by Arturo Perez Jr. and Samantha Jayne, the short film Less Than One calculates the math for a young woman living in a city of 800,000 people.
After breaking down the numbers, the woman learns that her potential soulmate match is with .53 people — less than one person — in the entire city.
Is it a little depressing? Maybe.
But the fact is that there are more than 7.7 billion people existing on earth, right at this very moment. That’s not even taking into consideration the billions upon billions who have already lived and died.
Randall Munroe of xkcd fame has a physics degree and actually talks about soulmate probability in his book, “What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.”
For this probability exercise, he makes the assumption that we only have one soulmate, that they are on earth at the same time we are and are also around the same age.
Averaging the number of people you encounter in a day (Munroe gives the generous estimate of a few dozen new faces each day), you’ll see around 50,000 potential soulmates over the course of your lifetime if 10% of those people are around your age.
With 500,000,000 potential soulmates (the term ‘soulmate’ is typically, knowingly and unknowingly, used to refer to both soulmates and twin flames) walking the earth, you’ll find your one true love in just one lifetime…out of 10,000 lifetimes.
Wait a minute. What’s that woooooshing noise I hear? Ah yes, that’s the sound of the wind leaving your sails.
For what it’s worth, these statistics are probably not going to sway us hopeless romantics from believing in soulmates.
Mathematician Hannah Fry brings a little hope to the topic in her TED talk, offering three mathematically-verified tips for finding love.
If you’re lonely and seeking love or a soul connection, I can assure you that all hope is not lost.
How Many People Believe In Soulmates?
When I told my friend Justine about this article, she asked her husband what he thought about soulmates.
“Babe, do you believe in soulmates?” she asked. “Yes.” “Do you believe I’m yours?” “Yes,” he said, pausing for a moment before adding, “I also believe you took my soul.”
In all seriousness, though, the belief in soulmates is pretty common.
In the United States, 73% of adults believe that soulmates exist, while only 27% do not. (And it may surprise you to hear that more men than women believe in soulmates — 74% of men, 71% of women.)
Tom from Missouri doesn’t believe in soulmates at all:
“Soulmates are for suckers. We work hard to have a successful marriage. The idea of soulmates negates the amount of work that goes into having a strong relationship,” he told us.
“There are certainly people who are more compatible than others. But the idea that there is only one person for you is bunk.”
Christine Sloan Stoddard, author of “Belladonna Magic: Spells in the Form of Poetry & Photography”, told us, “I believe in soulmates — unapologetically and with a sparkle in my eye.”
She feels we each have multiple soulmates but their number is finite.
“My soulmates are my husband and my dearest friends,” Christine explained. “I know they are my soulmates because I can be raw and vulnerable with them, never fearing their reaction. Our mutual understanding is a blessing. Our relationships aren’t perfect, but they are vital and authentic.”
Only 64% of the silent generation – those born between 1925-45 – believe that soulmates are real, in comparison to 72% of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964), 76% of Gen Xers (those born between 1965-1980), and 79% of Millennials (those born between 1981-1996).
Overall, these statistics are actually not that far off from those who believe in God (80%) versus those who don’t believe in God (19%).
Which kinda makes sense when you consider that the soulmate theories we’ll talk about later (Myths And Legends About Soulmates) revolved around the gods having a direct hand in our soul connections.
“They come when you least expect it,” Andrew explained. “After many years of traveling the world and searching for my ideal soulmate, I made the decision in 2018 to finally give up and stop searching. Three days later, I met her and we’ve been happy together ever since!”
“When I went on the first date with mine, we felt the feeling of comfort from the very beginning,” he continued. “It’s that automatic comfort around the person that means your frequencies match effortlessly.”
Anna (Targoniy) Kemp, an international model from Kazakhstan who is now based in New York, told us about the very first time she met her soulmate and future husband.
“During our first meeting, we both felt something new, which we couldn’t describe,” she explained. “I never believed in love ‘from the first sight,’ but that is exactly what happened between us.”
“I felt like a ‘full’ or ‘complete’ person,” Anna continued. “I felt like I found my second half, and I never want to be ‘a half’ again. I believe that once you meet your soulmate, you will have no questions [about] if it is the right person — you will feel it with your entire soul.”
Melanie Gilbert, a young adult author who specializes in fantasy romance with magical twists and soulmate connections, has based some of her book characters on her relationship with her husband, who she feels is her soulmate.
“When he and I met, we had an instant connection. Other relationships I’d had never felt so easy or comfortable,” Melanie told us. “That being said, no relationship is flawless. I believe you have to choose your soulmate every day because they are human and will make mistakes.”
Joanna, a writer at Mom With Cookies, believes in soulmates and married hers, as well. “Our meeting was truly unique in that we walked down the aisle together at my sister’s wedding. He was a groomsman and long-time high school friend of the groom,” she told us. “After a year of texting and emailing we finally went on a first date. We got married two years later and have been together since!”
Not everyone experiences a happily-ever-after marriage with their soulmates.
Elisa Robyn has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and recently transitioned from a 20-year career as an academic dean to establish her own practice as a transitions and prosperity expert.
She focuses on finances and relationships and told us that the topic of soulmates comes up with each of her clients.
“While I do believe in soulmates, I do not believe that we always end up in romantic or committed relationships with them,” Elisa explained. “We have soul groups, and our best friends are probably part of this group.”
Elisa told us that she has found her kindred spirits, soulmates, and her twin flame. “None of them are my significant other,” she said. “My twin flame married someone else. Perhaps we will be together in another life.”
Elisa added that her two female best friends “are clearly part of my soul tribe.”
“I can emotionally find my soulmate across the country and know what is going on in his life,” Elisa told us. “If something happens in his life, I dream about it and can feel it. If he needs me, I feel it. He knows me at a level that few people do.”
Connections that run so deep are hard to ignore and we should all be so lucky to find them in this life — but you’re not alone if you haven’t found yours, or if you never do.
Bottom Line: Statistically speaking, the probability of finding “one” true soulmate (aka soulmate or twin flame) is pretty slim, given the sheer number of people on earth. That said, those crappy odds don’t sway people from believing in soulmates. A majority of people (73%) actually do believe that soulmates exist, a number that’s similar to the belief in God (80%). People believe in soulmates because of a need to find and develop connections with other people. An individual’s experience with soulmates can vary depending on life circumstances; some marry theirs, while others do not.
How Do You Know If You’ve Found A Kindred Spirit, Soulmate, Or Twin Flame?
By now, you’re probably wondering if you’ve already found a kindred spirit, a soulmate, or twin flame — or if you ever will. (For a quick checklist, you can reference our handy infographic at the beginning of this article.)
Kathy from California wonders this, as well: “I’ve had people I thought I had that kind of connection with, but they didn’t feel the same way. So, I’m on the fence leaning towards disbelief.”
Other people have no doubts.
Stacy Caprio – the life coach from earlier – said she knows that many people she’s met have not been by coincidence.
“In that sense, I was meant to meet them,” Stacy told us. “When you look back on your life and realize it could not have happened any other way, or when you’re in the moment and feel safe and happy, those are two ways to recognize you’re in a moment or with a person that is meant to be.”
JJ DiGeronimo, President of Tech Savvy Women, is a women in business expert and gender diversity consultant. JJ told us, “Your soul needs to feel loved and nourished by you first.”
“The law of attraction holds true that you will attract what you are and how you feel about yourself. So if you are broken inside you will often attract other souls that help you work through your lessons.”
“Make the time and commit to the health and wellbeing of your soul first and in due time the complimenting soul will appear,” she continued. “Healthy souls attract healthy souls.”
At the end of the day, embracing and being yourself — the good and the bad parts of you — will help to draw these souls toward you. When you’re not being your authentic self, you may find you have a tendency to attract all the wrong ones.
Have I Found A Kindred Spirit?
You know you’ve found a kindred spirit if:
You made a comfortable, familiar connection with them quickly
You’re crazy attracted to one another on every level: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually
You share an intense sexual passion for one another
There may be certain synchronicities between you: thinking or dreaming about each other at the same time (and even before actually meeting in person); “random” coincidences of being in the same place at the same time
You’re opposites in a lot of ways. It sounds counterintuitive on the surface, but your personality traits and flaws are perfectly balanced with one another, creating a “wholeness” whenever you’re together
For that reason, your unconditional love enables you to overlook their annoying habits if they have any
This person knows you — the real you — better than anyone else
You grow and evolve together
The relationship is one that brings bliss and happiness to both people overall
What Happens If I Lose My Kindred Spirit, Soulmate, Or Twin Flame?
In the event that your kindred spirit, soulmate, or twin flame is unattainable or you become separated by insurmountable distances or death, that loss does not mark the end of love or the potential for making deep connections with other people.
You will always be with this person in spirit, even if you can’t physically be with them on earth. The soul and its connections are eternal, it is only this physical life that is temporary.
You remember them fondly. You laugh about the funny things they did. And you go on living your life and finding joy wherever you can because it’s what they would want you to do.
Mary from Arizona spoke about how she was fortunate to marry two of her soulmates.
The first was her husband, Paul, with whom she shared a deep soul connection in spite of an 18-year age difference. “Paul died in 1991, and I met Kevin in 1992,” Mary told us. “Again, there was a deep connection, far beyond simply being in love.”
“The odd thing is that there seemed to be a connection between Paul and Kevin, who sometimes used the same phrases and otherwise could have been related,” she added.
Mary’s experience shows that if you keep yourself open to the possibility of love in the future, you’ll likely find it again one day — if not with a romantic partner, then with family and close friends.
Bottom Line: The “law of attraction” dictates that like attracts like. When you’re not being your truest, most authentic self, you may find that you’re attracting all the wrong people. Kindred spirits, soulmates, and twin flames each have different characteristics that make them recognizable. If you find a kindred spirit, soulmate, or twin flame and lose them through distance or death, they will still always be with you in spirit because your souls are connected — no matter where they are.
Does The Belief In Soulmates Worsen Loneliness Or Harm Our Relationships?
As wonderful as the belief in soulmates can feel, it may be detrimental to our personal relationships and worsen our feelings of loneliness in the long run.
Constantly searching for our “one true soulmate” can make us more likely to break up with or avoid marriage to perfectly good people in search of someone “better” and make us more aware of our alone-ness when we’re not with someone.
Shuli Sandler, a licensed psychologist, feels the same way: “I do not believe in soulmates and I think the belief in soulmates too often destroys otherwise good relationships,” she told us.
“The belief of a soulmate often comes with a fantasy of a relationship that doesn’t require hard work and effort. I believe in the importance of compatibility and flexibility that will make relationships work.”
“When we continually seek for the romantic ideal, we disregard the elements of our relationships that work and serve us,” Elisa – the transitions and prosperity expert – told us. “We forget that love is a dance and a process in our search for the perfect magical experience.”
“There is a sense that there is always someone else out there, that ‘chemistry’ is instantaneous, and that we know within seconds if this is the person we are supposed to be with,” she continued.
“Social media continually tells us that there is someone else for us, someone better out there and that everyone else has met their soulmate. Relationships that require effort and work are somehow viewed as suspiciously not a soul-level connection.”
Elisa’s not wrong.
There is a belief that “being made for each other” means there can and should never be conflict. Those who believe in fate and destiny are particularly susceptible to searching for greener, more “perfect” pastures.
Here’s a great video from author Vanessa Van Edwards about the science behind soulmates and how believing or not believing in them can affect your relationships:
Michelle Croyle, psychotherapist and owner of Abundant Freedom Counseling and co-founder of Marriage Guy and Gal, LLC, where she works as a life and marriage coach, is very familiar with “the grass is greener” syndrome.
“People often come into therapy sessions saying something along the lines of, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard. If it were meant to be, it should be easier. I just want to be happy, and I’m not, so I want out,” Michelle told us.
“My advice to those who take the romantic view of things is this: It is not some mystical, magical spell of happiness that signifies you are meant to be with your significant other,” she explained.
“It is the every day, day-in and day-out commitment that you will treat each other with respect, patience, kindness, and goodness, and when you mess up, you will communicate healthily about it, work toward a win-win solution, and forgive and keep doing your best.”
“This is what life-long love is made of, and that is romantic,” Michelle added.
Successful relationships do take real work. They take compromise.
At the end of the day, people are human and even the most “perfect” fit with another person isn’t going to come custom-made like a prefab cabinet.
Carrie Jenkins, professor of philosophy and author of “What Love Is and What it Could Be”, told us that the belief in soulmates can be damaging to relationships in three different ways.
“To explain the first way we need to understand the origin of the soulmates story in Plato’s dialogue about love, ‘The Symposium’,” Carrie told us.
“The story is told by the character of Aristophanes, and he says human beings are incomplete half-creatures who are always seeking to be reunited with the person who is their ‘other half.’ The implication is that any single person is incomplete and suffering. Thinking of oneself this way is not intrinsically healthy nor is it a good basis for a relationship.”
She continues, “Second, there’s the fact the soulmate beliefs tend to involve a sense of fate which is fixed by external forces, rather than encouraging personal responsibility or empowering us to make our own choices.”
People grow and change throughout the entire duration of their lives, she said.
“Thinking of oneself and another person as fated to be together tends to lead to ignoring or denying the realities of growth and change. And it disempowers us: it collapses our recognition of our own (and each other’s) choices and freedoms.”
Finally, the belief in “one true love” is a stereotype that assigns a lower status to all other relationships that fall short of the coveted title.
“When we understand the value of all loving/caring relationships, there is no reason to think each person has been allocated exactly one ‘special’ other with whom to share ‘special’ love,” Carrie explained.
The key to moving forward, whether you believe in soulmates or not, is compromise and adaptation, acceptance and a will to grow together as a couple.
Sometimes, a relationship can throw you a real curveball when you least expect it.
In a 2017 TED talk, Ashley Clift-Jennings spoke about finding and marrying her soulmate and the challenges they overcame together after her husband came out as transgender six years into their marriage.
Three years after that earth-shattering news, Ashley remained a proud wife to the woman who is her soulmate.
In fact, this story is one that demonstrates how soulmates can and do transcend gender.
“I think there’s something more fundamental than work and compromise, and that’s the understanding that people are living beings who make their own choices, who grow and change,” Carrie, the professor and author we spoke with earlier, told us.
“A theory of soulmates is usually static, a once-and-for-all deal. But perhaps a happy medium can be established if ‘soulmates’ means ‘people who are exceptionally well-suited for each other.’”
“Humans are complex, and we are always going to have issues and areas that might require compromise,” Elisa told us.
“Relationships are not romance-novels, which of course end at the engagement or wedding. So yes, we can work on issues and remember what we fell in love with and focus on the positive aspects of our relationship.”
Finding someone who is compatible on a soul-level ultimately comes down to ourselves, as well.
“If you are looking for completion, I am sorry, you have to complete yourself,” Elisa told us.
“If you are looking for that magic person who supplies all your wants and needs without being asked, again, that will have to be you. When we are willing to believe in ourselves, love ourselves, and work on improving ourselves, we will be loved that way we wish to be loved.”
Aimee Daramus, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and depression who teaches at Harold Washington College in Chicago, cautions against staying in a relationship simply because you think the person is a soulmate.
“There are definitely people who find their soulmate and are very happy together,” Aimee told us, “but for a lot of others, it makes it a lot harder to get out of a bad relationship, because it’s so hard to let go of someone that you’ve convinced yourself is the one.”
Aimee explained that the belief in soulmates can actually make it more difficult to get into a relationship.
“If you don’t ‘know’ instantly,” she added, “it can stop you from getting to know someone who might be fantastic for you. That can increase the chances of anxiety or depression if you stay in a bad situation or your ‘soulmate’ leaves you.”
The belief in soulmates “can lead to a lot of unnecessary guilt or a belief that there’s something wrong with you if you love again,” Aimee continued. “At the extremes, it can make you romanticize abuse or manipulation as “tortured love.”
Those who have a tendency toward codependency with others may remain in relationships that are anything but good for them — exacerbating feelings of loneliness while making it much more difficult to find someone with whom they might foster a deeper (and better) connection.
Bottom Line: The belief in soulmates can be detrimental to our personal relationships in certain circumstances. Searching for our “one true soulmate” can make us more likely to break up with people we’re actually compatible with because we think there’s someone better waiting just around the next corner. That search can also make our loneliness worse when it seems like we’ll “never” find our soulmate. Some feel that having a relationship with a soulmate means that there should never be conflict, but real relationships take work. The belief in soulmates can also make people stay in unhealthy relationships if “the one” happens to be a person who mistreats them, increasing their chances of developing anxiety, loneliness or depression.
“The idea of soulmates is certainly romantic, and it very well may be true in some instances,” Michelle Croyle, a psychotherapist, told us.
“However, what is more important is the concept of commitment. Once a couple gets married, whether or not they were ‘soulmates’ isn’t really an issue any longer. They are soulmates from that point forward.”
Jennifer Crilley is an Intuitive Soul Coach and founder of Illuminated Space. She told us:
“What people don’t always understand is that ‘soulmate’ doesn’t mean ‘blissful, problem-free relationship’. Often, it means you’re here to work out some things together, which may include some sticky challenges and possible lessons in forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion.”
“As we all know, learning and growing isn’t always the most harmonious process,” Jennifer continued. “Like polishing a stone, we all need a little tumbling. Soulmate (or soul tribe) relationships are not exempt from hard work and compromise.”
So if we find someone who we think is pretty swell but not quite “soulmate perfect,” can they, in fact, become a soulmate?
A study by Arthur Aron showed that two people can accelerate their intimacy when they spend time asking and answering a series of questions designed to foster a deep, personal connection.
What this suggests is that yes, soulmate-level connections can be built from the ground up, with some effort from both parties.
“The truth is, a solid relationship is not always easy, as life is not always easy,” Michelle told us. “Your commitment is what helps you to build a satisfying and long-lasting relationship.”
The important thing is to love one another, be kind and considerate to one another, prioritize your relationship and don’t be afraid of making compromises.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a marriage therapist, spoke about navigating conflicts with his wife and soulmate in his ELI talk, The (Im)Perfect Soulmate.
Disagreements are going to happen — it’s what you do when faced with them that will make or break your deep connections to other people, including your soulmates.
Bottom Line: Soulmates can be made, in a way: they are grown through the careful nurturing of our own personal relationships. Intimacy and deep personal connections can be built to reach the level of “soulmate status” with some effort from both parties. Commitment and compromise are key components, as is being kind and considerate to one another, prioritizing your relationship, and simply loving one another. When disagreements do occur — and they probably will from time to time — the way you handle them can deepen or sever these connections.
There are various myths and legends surrounding the theory behind soulmates.
The Red Thread Of Fate
In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean culture, the Red Thread of Fate offers a unique explanation for soulmates and how they originate.
The basis for this story begins in the hands of the gods, who tie a red string to the pinky fingers or ankles of people who are destined to find one another. The exact location of the tether depends on the culture of origin.
These red threads may stretch across vast distances, coiling and tangling along the way, but the ties cannot be broken. Ever.
Every night, this little old man comes out in search of kindred spirits who have something to learn from each other.
Once he’s found them, he ties one end of a red string to each person so that they may find their path to one another.
The Bashert Of Jewish Lore
Jewish lore tells us of the bashert (sometimes spelled “beshert”), a word that essentially translates to “destiny” or “fate” in Yiddish.
The Talmud, a text that explains the religious laws outlined in the Torah in great depth, speaks of the bashert and what it means.
According to the Talmud, 40 days before a male child is conceived, heaven announces who he will marry.
Rav Yehuda wrote in this ancient text, “40 days before the formation of a child, a heavenly voice issues forth and proclaims, the daughter of this person is for that person; the house of this person is for that person; the field of this person is for that person.”
So, much like the Red Thread of Fate, the gods are all up in our business.
Some Rabbis and Jewish scholars today take issue with the bashert because of the conflicts it creates between free will and a divine plan.
It leads to the question, and rightfully so, of just how much of our lives remains under our own control and how much is preordained by the gods? In our modern age, however, the bashert has generally come to be associated with a compatible match.
In The Symposium, Plato’s soulmate theory is presented through the dialogue of Aristophanes. (Click here to read the entire passage — it’s freakin’ fascinating — but I’ll give you Cliff’s notes below.)
According to this dialogue, humans were pretty weird looking: they had round bodies that were male and female, shared one head with two identical faces, and had four arms and four legs apiece.
So basically, we looked like the world’s largest spiders. (Try getting that visual out of your mind.)
There were three genders: male (offspring of the sun), female (offspring of the earth), and androgynous (“man-woman” in Greek and the offspring of the moon).
So these eight-appendaged humans were just cartwheeling across the land, as one does, and they were surprisingly powerful. Eventually, they threatened to attack the very gods who created them.
The gods were understandably miffed about the whole idea, but they didn’t want to kill their spider-humans because who would be left behind to worship the gods?
Zeus, being the meddler he often was, thought the best solution would be to split the humans in two. This would rob the humans of their power and punish them at the same time because they’d spend their entire lives trying to find their missing half.
Zeus decreed if that didn’t work, he’d simply cut them in half again. (Clearly, it must have worked, otherwise, we’d all be hopping around on one leg.)
The one thing that’s especially unique about Plato’s theory is that these “split-aparts” are not limited to male-female pairs.
The androgynous humans who were split apart both had the same set of genitalia. Split-apart men who sought only men and split-apart women who sought only women were natural for this reason, and it was equally satisfying for these couples when they found one another on earth.
To quote Plato from The Symposium directly:
“And so, when a person meets the half that is his very own, whatever his orientation, whether it’s to young men or not, then something wonderful happens: the two are struck from their senses by love, by a sense of belonging to one another, and by desire, and they don’t want to be separated from one another, not even for a moment.”
Bottom Line: The mythology and lore behind soulmates are varied but each is rooted in the search for our one perfect match on earth. The Red Thread of Fate speaks of an old lunar god who tied a red thread to the pinkie fingers or ankles of destined couples. The Jewish bashert tells of heaven announcing who a male child will be matched to 40 days before he is conceived. Plato thought that humans were originally eight-appendaged creatures with a single head and two faces, separated into two people as a punishment from the gods.
Soul connections arrive in all shapes and sizes, often at the moment we need them the most — but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience feelings of loneliness while trying to find them.
“For those who are still searching for a soulmate, I think it is important to remember that we have many possible soulmates and that the soulmate relationship we manifest is based on the level of growth and evolution we have achieved on a soul level,” Michelle Brock, spiritual life coach, told us.
“Your soulmate knows you by your soul, not your body,” she added.
“So they will be drawn to you when you are at your most authentic, doing work that you love and being the best version of yourself that you can be. Two people who are meant to meet will meet when the time is right, but keep the focus on yourself and who you are becoming.”
Joanna told us of her soulmate and husband: “We have definitely had our rough patches, but that’s another reason why I know we are soulmates. Anyone else would have split up. Soulmates are like your missing piece in your puzzle. You never really knew how much they were needed until you finally found them!”
“To those of you out there still searching for your soulmate, don’t give up,” she added. “It wasn’t until I stopped looking that I found mine!”
Whether we find our soulmates through fate or chance, we owe it to ourselves (and each other) to nurture these relationships and the personal, spiritual, and emotional growth they provide.
And who knows? Your kindred spirit, soulmate, or twin flame might just be the first person who crossed your mind while you were reading this article.