It’s common to conflate the idea of a soul mate with that of a life partner; you might think they’re exactly the same thing, or that any difference between the two concepts is purely academic.
However, a life partner is someone trustworthy and dependable with whom you spend significant time, while a soulmate is a person who arrives in your life specifically to enrich it, encourage your development and push you to grow into a higher state of consciousness. Both are incredibly important!
A soulmate can be a friend, a lover, or even a family member, so it’s important to let go of the idea that there’s necessarily a romantic connection.
That being said, they always inspire passion of some sort and nudge you towards fulfilling some aspect of your potential.
Many times, they will leave your life in one way or another once you’ve learned the important lesson they’re there to impart.
This can hurt a great deal but doesn’t negate their status as a soulmate.
In contrast, a life partner shares your interests, supports you, and helps to empower you to take risks. They are likely to be with you in the long haul, regardless of challenges encountered, and they share a profound and reciprocal bond with you (one that has nothing to do with what they “get” out of the relationship).
The kind of connection you have with a soul mate involves the heart and consciousness. As such, the relationship you have with this type of person is intense, constantly evolving, beautiful, and likely to involve hurt as well as joy.
The lessons that soul mates teach will improve your life and transform you into an elevated form of yourself, but going through those lessons can be both exhausting and exhilarating!
On the other hand, the connection you have with a life partner usually develops when you are both already in a state of self-love and self-acceptance. This is a more peaceful kind of kinship, and it is often the turmoil experienced with a soulmate that creates the space for this type of bond with a life partner.
When you meet a soulmate, you will feel like you’ve known each other for your whole life. Somehow, without ever having encountered each other before in your present incarnations, you intuitively understand how each other thinks, feels and approaches life.
There is typically an overlap in your childhood experiences, bolstering the sense of intensity. You feel known by each other, and this leads to a magnetic attraction. The positive side of this is a sense of understanding and a feeling of being truly alive, but the trickier side is that the two of you probably also mirror each other’s flaws and more difficult habits.
Meanwhile, your life partner probably comes from a different background, creating curiosity in both directions. You feel comfortable around each other, and this eases you into a deep and abiding friendship or love that feels like it’s constantly evolving.
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The primary type of stimulation you’ll experience with a soulmate is emotional; you often don’t need words to communicate your needs, desires, and ideas. You just know each other, and the connection is constant and effortless.
With a life partner, you’ll primarily enjoy intellectual stimulation; a more stable, but equally enjoyable way of engaging and maintaining your interest. A physical attraction may exist in both cases, but it will be driven by a craving for fusion in the case of a soulmate and by curiosity about contrasts in the case of a life partner.
Soulmates show up in your life when you somehow need to find closure of some sort and desperately need to learn a specific lesson if you’re going to evolve. The resulting experience is ecstatic, causing you to encounter both the best and worst about yourself.
In contrast, a life partner shows up in your life when you’re ready for something easy, soothing, and capable of focusing on the present moment. A life partner can often make a wonderful spouse, as a healthy marriage is typically based on a willingness to be “one” in a sense while remaining interestingly distinct at the same time.
Finally, note that it’s possible for your soulmate to be your life partner as well and that it’s possible for a life partner to develop a profound connection with you.
The crucial distinction is that you can choose a life partner and you cannot choose a soulmate. However, neither is better than the other. While a soulmate creates more profound change, that’s not to say there’s nothing to learn from a life partner!
There's also a crucial difference in what soul mates and life partners do for us.
In particular, if your soul mate comes into your life, it'll quickly feel like they have been there forever. Often, shared experiences will help you reach a deeper understanding of both yourself and the other person, and this is part of the reason why the bond feels so deep so quickly.
You'll notice that this person has a profound influence on you – what they want is of paramount importance to you, and you trust their judgment like it is your own. They will feel the same in response, which stops there from being an uneven power dynamic.
However, soul mates are not meant to be our permanent companions. This individual will help you grow, pushing you to the limits of what you can understand and become. And when you reach a certain stage of growth, you'll know it's time to part ways.
In contrast, a life partner is a long-term source of comfort and security, including when other relationships are lost or left behind. A life partner anchors you and keeps you steady, which is why their presence in your life is usually longer lasting.
What soul mates and life partners do for you means that they also tend to arrive in your life at different points.
Soul mates generally come to you when life has become stagnant in some way and needs to change. For example, perhaps you're in a relationship that is no longer serving you, maybe your job isn't your real vocation, or it could be that you're stuck in a habit that is harming you.
Your soul mate will help you by holding up a mirror, allowing you to see that you need to move on. You'll face obstacles in the time you spend with a soul mate, both in your relationship and in the rest of your life. But this is what has to happen for you to learn the vital lessons you need to know.
Life partners, on the other hand, make themselves known when you're ready for a more settled, peaceful phase of life. Perhaps you've recently been through a tumultuous period of change, or maybe you're at the point where you want to build a family. Whatever your particular situation, your life partner will give you the calmness and constant, supportive companionship you need to thrive in life's quieter times.
On rare occasions, your soul mate and your life partner can be the same person. While most soul mates are brief visitors to our lives, the ones who hold the potential to be life partners may stay with us for the rest of our days. Such people tend to first arrive as a soul mate – a catalyst for change – and then they remain and grow with you into a more settled state. This is a profound, deeply meaningful relationship of rich spiritual connection. You will learn some of life's hardest, most vital lessons side by side, and then continue to stay together as you move into a time of acceptance and groundedness. It's likely that this person will understand you in a way that no one else has, and that they will feel like someone you have met in many lifetimes.
How do you know that someone might be both your life partner and your soul mate? Some people just know, the minute they meet – there's just a sense that this is the person you've always been waiting for. However, there are other clues to look for.
Specifically, it's likely that you find all of your needs are met when you're with this person, and that they are a mix of eerie similarity and stimulating difference.
A soul mate who isn't a life partner also tends to spark more conflict, both in your relationship and elsewhere. However, a soul mate who may just also be a life partner tends to stimulate growth in you in a more harmonious way. If you're happier together than you are with anyone else and you can't imagine your life without them, they might be both the person who helps you change and the person who helps you celebrate that change.