In most of the articles you read out there the terms are used interchangeably. Your life partner is your soul mate. You might as well call them life mates and soul partners. But are they really that easy to exchange? Can you really assume that if somebody is your soul mate they will also be your life partner and vice versa?

Not really.

The truth is these notions are quite different. That’s because they happen to you at different times in your life when you’re in an entirely different space. The soul mate, for example, is often somebody who you will find when you’re still trying to find and shape yourself. Your life partner, in the meantime, is somebody who you generally find when you’ve already done most of your shaping and already largely feel comfortable in your skin.

In this way, your soul partner often directly contributes to self-actualization and growth. They might steer you onto your path and give you the direction and conviction you need to pursue it. Your life partner, in the meantime, will be the person who supports you on your path. They are the friend in your corner. They are the person who has your back.

This means that when you’re about ready to start dating again, you need to understand what exactly you are looking for.

The type of bond

As you can probably imagine, this means that the type of bond you have with each is different. The soul mate is somebody who you have an emotional bond with. You immediately feel comfortable with each other. You might even feel that you know each other even though you’ve only just met. This might come from a common past – you have the same background and went through many of the same experiences. This allows you to understand the other person’s feelings and emotions intuitively, as if they are your own.

A life partner, in the meantime, is somebody with who you have an intellectual connection. They are (or eventually become) your best friend. Here there is more of a curiosity. The person who becomes your life partner is different from who you are, but you’re both open to trying to discover each other’s personalities. This curiosity steers your journey of discovery of who you can be together and how you can support each other through thick and thin.

The volatility of the two types of relationships

Of course, that also creates a different way of being. Soul mates are so close that they can easily find and press each other’s buttons. What’s more, because you’re quite similar you don’t just share each other’s strengths but also each other’s flaws. This means that this type of relationship can be quite volatile, with there being great highs but potentially also great lows – pleasure as well as pain.

That’s less common with life partners. Life partners discover each other slowly and their relationship steadily evolves. As time passes, it becomes more complicated and deeper. This means that though sometimes it can be emotionally less vigorous at least at the beginning, there are also fewer prospects for pain. You help each other and have each other’s corner. You soothe out each other’s rough edges. One is making a novel and the other makes sure their names are in the top writers list.

When it happens

As already implied in the text above, you tend to meet these people at different parts of your lives. Soul mates are the people who appear around when you really need to learn one of life’s lessons and they are there to teach it to you. Life partners come when you’ve already learned many of those lessons and feel comfortable with just who you are.

And that makes sense, because you can only really take the effort to get to know somebody who is considerably different from you when you’re truly interested in other people. And that only happens when you’re in a place where you don’t consistently need to focus on yourself and keeping your keel even. As a result, life partners usually appear at later stages in life. Soul mates come along and rock our world. Life partners make our world a better place to live in.

Turning back to metaphors, soul mates feel much like fire, while life partners feel like water. The first is exciting, stimulating and can burn you. The latter isn’t that intense, but can be incredibly comfortable and enjoyable not to mention safe and free, but only if you pay attention.

That last part is important, because what will often happen is that we’ve experienced the love and excitement of finding somebody who appears to be our soul mate and then when we find our life partner we initially underestimate their importance. We’re missing that energy, that spark.

As a result, sometimes we dismiss this type of relationship. The thing is, that these relationships often take time to grow and become better, deeper and more meaningful as time goes on. The problem is, if you’re only used to the soul mate kind of love, that means you may not give your life partner the time they deserve.

The truth is, we often find the people we share our lives with in the strangest places – but we can’t find them there if we don’t even bother to look.

Luisa Brenton is a writer in a variety of venues – academic, business, and online marketing content. She also is a loving wife, mom, traveler and frequent contributor to and




Image courtesy of Stokpic.