The concept of the soul mate has enjoyed a long history of romanticized misperceptions in popular culture. The soul mate in Western pop culture is the one who will understand us on every level and someone with whom you will have perfect chemistry with on every level (mentally, emotionally, physically, etc).
Hollywood has portrayed it as "the one" with whom you'll live happily ever after and ride off into the sunset with. While this is a cool and romantic idea, and does encompass some aspects of the idea, it is a wildly sugarcoated and Hallmark movie version of a complicated spiritual concept that deserves to be fully understood.
If we break down what a soul mate is, it's clear that the romanticized version lacks a level of honesty and authenticity. Bear in mind that this explanation is from our own understanding and experience, so if you prefer the movie version we don't blame you!
A Quick and Dirty Overview of the Soul
On a basic level, a soul mate is literally a part of our own soul in another body. But first we should unpack the concept of soul, this is esoteric so hang on:
In our experience (through our own study, meditation and work with our mentors) a soul can crudely be thought of as a concentration of individuated divine energy or essence (think of it like an energetic essence-blob) that sometimes seeks experience in form or matter (in our case, human form). Souls inhabit bodies. Soul and personality are not the same. Personality is like the psychological operating system for the brain, and the soul is like the power source. When we die, the power source (soul) checks out, therefore the computer won't turn on.
The soul blob can split itself up into separate parts, like using a splitter on a cable wire. Why would the soul split itself up into different parts you ask? According to native, ancient Hindu, Sufi and Vedantic wisdom, it is to have multiple experiences in or out of matter so it can push itself toward completion or reunification with the Divine (AKA God, The Universe, etc). Typically the soul splits into 7 main pieces (7 is an anciently significant number) and then again in into two more pieces (a masculine and feminine polarity, which is referred to as a "twin flame"...but that's another post) for a total of 14 aspects.
Typically a soul wants to have varied experiences in matter so that when they meet back at the source there is more aggregated experience to share which advances the whole soul unit. A teacher once said, it's like sending out multiple explorers to different unexplored regions and then meeting back at home base to share notes. You get more done at a faster pace and can live the other experiences by proxy...in this case as an energetic download.
The soul will only send down a maximum of 5 aspects at one time. However, usually there's rarely even one on earth at a given time. The other aspects will reside in the higher planes and act as guides. However, every once in a while the soul practices meeting up with a soul mate in order to engage in an advanced crash course in spiritual growth, pushing the limits further and further as the soul ages.
My Soul Mate Is 65 Years Older Than Me and Lives Across the Globe?
A soul mate is one of those individuated parts of the same soul source; one plug on the cable splitter. In other words, your soul mate is but one piece of your own soul, whom you meet in order to advance your own spiritual understanding and to practice the development of unconditional love. Typically we only meet a soul mate when we're ready to do a bit of hard spiritual work, and may often be posed with various tests in order to manifest or maintain the soul mate relationship.
Thus meeting and being with our soul mate is not easy, and often blows our concept of what the "perfect relationship" would look like. For those brave enough to embark on the soul mate journey, it may require overcoming what seem like impossible obstacles, typical preferences, or thwart prevailing societal expectations or norms in order to advance the soul's consciousness. Luckily the Universe is often on the soul mate's side provided they can rise above the illusion that would keep the separated.
In many cases soul mates may not look at all like you thought they would. They could be 20 years older (or younger) than you, the same or opposite sex, already in a committed relationship, or even in our biological families.
Our ideal mate and our soul mate are two separate concepts. So bear in mind we can have fantastic, renewing, spiritually uplifting, amazingly loving, deep relationships with people who aren't our soul mates, and this is the nature of most people's relationships.
Weirdly Similar and Intensely Annoying...At the Same Time
Our soul mates show up in our lives to give us an opportunity to work on a deeper level on our spiritual (and emotional, psychological and physical) issues. Our soul mate shows us unconditional love, depending on theirs and our relative level of consciousness this gets easier the older the soul. In many traditions the soul mate is the only real expression of unconditional love, as most relationships are highly conditional and based on the whims of animal instinct or emotional desires. We may have an amazing resonance with them, or feel repulsed by them. It really just depends on what kind of karma you've built up with that aspect, and how much of that karma you've healed in past lives.
If you had many past lives together where you killed each other for one reason or another it might be a little more difficult than you think to sit across from them in this life and have a romantic candlelit dinner without a heated argument, or without wanting to have sex for hours and hours (again, it depends on the karma). However, soul mates often have a way of gravitating back to one another no matter how intense the fight. In fact, it can be almost impossible to fully separate from a soul mate, as it's a bit like cutting off an arm...it's simply counterintuitive.
They're kind of addictive. It's just you wanting to get to know yourself better (remember the spiritual journey is the journey toward discovering the God in yourself, which is why the only true spiritual love is the love of the unconditional love of the soul mate). People experience a version of this love in children and animals.
Soul mates have built up a pattern of working (in the reincarnatory sense) where they have been each other's brother, mother, sister, lover, father, friend and enemy. Depending on your soul mate relational preferences, you may be more copacetic (like a twin sibling relationship) or more adversarial (like sworn enemies), or more romantically or sexually gravitational.
Most soul mate relationships run the gamut of all of these at various times which makes the relationship that much more compelling, exciting and confusing. In any case, you will excite and challenge each other on multiple levels, which is why it's work and also why many souls choose not to meet and maintain the frequency until they are advanced enough to hold the emotional or physical karmic patterns without getting "pulled under", whereas younger soul mates may end up like Romeo and Juliet.
Soul mates often match in uncanny ways, often thinking or saying the same thing at the same time, doing the same thing independently of each other at the same time, or other extremely synchronistic events may coalesce around you. Aaron and I will often scratch our noses or ears at the same time, or even cough at the same time....only to look at each other suspiciously like the other person is mimicking.
Our favorite creepy soul mate thing to do is to say (or think) the same exact thing at the same time, or have the same synchronistic event happen to us separately throughout the day, unbeknownst to each other until we compare notes later. Not to mention the disturbing telepathic communication we had very early on.
It happens so often we have taken to jokingly saying "why do we even hang out?" because it really is like hanging out with yourself...which can be really cool or really annoying.
Incidentally, fighting with a soul mate is useless because you're fighting with yourself, so there is no way to win. Eventually you have to just call it a draw and go to bed...trust me. Your soul mate is you, and knows you more deeply than anyone. You can't "pull one over" on your soul mate...they always know what you're doing. Therefore your normal ego defenses don't work, and the quicker you surrender to this the easier the relating can be (we learned that the hard way). If you meet one you might as well open up and "surrender" because it's inevitable.
Soul mate relationships carry a charge, and regardless of the physical or psychological differences there will be a similarity in energy between the two people. Soul mates may find that when they are in each other's space, or even holding hands that they cannot tell they are even touching or near each other. Time seems to speed up and hours seem like minutes. Many soul mates can't get enough of each other, other's cant stand to be around each other.
Soul mates will often risk anything and everything to be together. This is not only because the energy is so intense but because the soul knows that by holding the energy the soul is growing toward the ultimate goal of unconditional love and higher consciousness. Other's may not consciously understand the connection but will intuitively "get it."
You're Not Gonna Kill Me Again Are You?
Soul mate relationships are far more rare than popular culture would have us believe, only because holding the intensity of the energy of the relationship will often exhaust the personality, particularly for those young souls inexperienced in navigating soul mate relationships. By the time we can maintain the soul mate relationship we may have practiced hundreds or even thousands of times doing all manner of wonderful or terrible things to each other before we are ready to overcome those lives and heal and grow.
This means that any issues, problems, inadequacies, karma (positive, negative, individual or group) will be amplified when you're with the person. For this reason, many people don't tend to stay with their soul mates for that long. The vibrational charge between the two souls is often so strong that the personality can't handle the energy and will want a break. This is why in past lives you may have really wanted to kill each other, and done it (yikes).
However, middle aged and older souls (and some brave younger souls) will be able to hold the charge for longer and will (often in an important spiritual lifetime) decide to stay and work together to heal old wounds and advance the soul's evolution more quickly in order to help not only their soul's understanding but to teach others.
Some people have brief "soul mate run-ins" where you meet someone on a subway ride or have a quick conversation with someone in a grocery store, but leave feeling an intense resonance and longing upon leaving them, like you've known them for an eternity.
That meeting alone will be enough to give your soul an extra jolt and advance your (and your soul mate's) spiritual journey just a bit. Meeting one soul mate is significant, meeting multiple soul mates (which we've only known one pair at this writing who have) is even more rare and you can be sure that the soul is meant to do something very significant if this happens.
So the inevitable question we get about soul mates is: how do I recognize one? Well, you may not, it depends on how aware you are at any given moment and whether you're meant to recognize them, but here are a few things to take away:
5 Tips to Help Recognize Your Soul Mate:
- There is an energetic resonance that feels eerily similar to your own energy. You're not sure where you begin and the other person begins (now any person with a intimate instinct can have this feeling with their mates, but with soul mates the merging moves beyond physical or emotional intimacy). As with any connection it's all in the eyes.
- You have the distinct feeling you've not only met them before but you've known them and everything about them forever....that's because it is you!
- There is a tendency to feel like your "burning up" when you're with them (this is meant metaphorically on multiple levels: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually) which can be exciting and/or exhausting.
- You would risk anything in order to be with them or have them in your life even if it means your own security. Soul mate relationships often don't make any sense to other people...sometimes they see how you're "the same person" other times they may scratch their head at your relationship.
- You may have an attraction and/or simultaneous repulsion to them depending on your karma, don't assume you will love them immediately, and that you'll tiptoe through the tulips together (cue creepy Tiny Tim song). This all depends on how your souls are used to working together.