What Is A Karmic Relationship? 15 Common Signs & How To Handle It
Ever wondered if your relationship was meant to be? It may have been—but that doesn't necessarily mean the two of you are soulmates, or that your relationship is meant to last. Instead, it could be a karmic relationship.
Here's a look into what a karmic relationship is, the common signs you might be in one, and how to know when it's time to leave.
What is a karmic relationship?
A karmic relationship is a relationship meant to facilitate the lessons we need to learn in this lifetime surrounding love and partnership. More likely than not, we'll each have one of these karmic relationships in our lifetime. It might be thought of as a type of soulmate relationship, as it is a connection of two souls, though it's different from the kind of soulmates that are healing in nature. These relationships aren't exactly smooth sailing. It's the love that pushes your buttons—and pushes you to grow.
From a spiritual POV, the idea behind karmic relationships is that the two of you made an agreement before your souls entered this lifetime, to help each other on your respective paths. "Very often," explains relationship counselor Margaret Paul, Ph.D., "there are numerous unresolved issues from past lives. When people open to learning rather than try to control each other, then much healing can occur."
In this way, karmic relationships are like guides or teachers. And usually, they're temporary. "They're meant to help you grow at soul level in often difficult push-pull ways," says Shannon Kaiser, author of The Self-Love Experiment. "But usually they are not intended to last a long time. This is because you are coming together in this life to clear karma between each other. It's often a balancing out of a bad experience from a past life."
Signs you're in a karmic relationship
There's an instant connection
The most obvious sign is you feel that you've known the person before, Paul says. "Sometimes you get a very good feeling about this, but sometimes there is some fear attached, depending on what the karma is."
There's a lot of drama
These relationships are tumultuous. "If drama is the foundation for your love affair, chances are you're in a karmic relationship," says Kaiser. The situation may even become toxic—a sign that the dynamic must be healed, or ended.
Things feel off early on
Did you notice a lot of red flags, even in the early stages of the relationship? Sometimes those triggers are part of the very lesson the relationship is meant to teach you, whether that means learning how to heal your own toxic behaviors you're bringing into a relationship or how to avoid such unhealthy dynamics in the future.
They make you feel frustrated
"If you feel frustrated and misunderstood, you are most likely in a karmic relationship," Kaiser adds. This is because karmic relationships are rarely a perfect union; they're about growth, usually through painful means.
They're unpleasant to be around
For whatever reason, and it may be a feeling you can't quite place, you find their presence to be heavy and begrudging. Yet despite the unpleasantry, you don't want to let go—even though you know you should.
Karmic relationships quickly become all-consuming, even despite the aforementioned issues like inexplicable tension or frustration.
There's a lot of miscommunication
"Usually there is a lot of push and pull and miscommunication," Kaiser notes. These miscommunications can help show us what we value and expect in a relationship or where healing needs to take place.
There are a lot of highs and lows
Things are never quite consistent, and while you may have good, even wonderful days, where everything seems perfect, there's a part of you that knows it's only a matter of time before things go south.
Those highs and lows tend to repeat themselves, over and over. Similarly, you may run into the same issues that carried over from a past relationship, indicating the lesson that needs learning.
They become codependent
Karmic relationships have a tendency of becoming a codependent relationship quickly. You may feel there's no other option but to give them all of your time and energy.
They shine a light on your fears
This person will bring all your fears to the surface: about love, your future, and your relationship together in general. Any past traumas will be brought to light—there's no running from it.
They bring out the worst in you
The extreme nature of the karmic relationship roller coaster can bring the worst out of the most level-headed of people. You may turn into someone you don't recognize, or even like, around this person. As Paul explains, "unless people know how to learn from unresolved issues in the past, they can create huge problems in the relationship."
They make you exhausted
All the ups and downs, miscommunications, and codependence become energetically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, especially when they're around.
You feel like you can't let go
You may make excuses for your partner despite all of these things because your connection is so strong and you feel like you're meant to be.
They don't last
Because karmic relationships can often become unhealthy, it's important to recognize that the point is not to stay in that toxic dynamic. The point is to learn from what's not working, and to leave. Eventually, when you're ready and have learned the lessons you're meant to learn, you will both move on.
When karmic relationships turn toxic
Even two well-meaning people in love can wind up having a toxic relationship, and this is often the nature of a karmic connection. According to Kaiser, you can tell the situation is taking a turn for the worst when nothing is changing, which is a signal that you or your partner aren't learning the lessons being presented to you.
Another sign you may need to escape your karmic relationship? "You don't trust yourself," says Kaiser, and you're staying despite what's best for your well-being. "If your soul is suffocating, it's time to take stock and give yourself permission to leave," she emphasizes.
In general, self-love is very important if you realize you may be in a karmic relationship. "If you are ignoring red flags or negotiating with your own feelings of angst, this could be an opportunity to practice self-love and believe in yourself," she says. "The best thing to do if you think you are in a karmic relationship and it has turned toxic is realize you deserve to be happy and focus on your relationship with self."
Here's our full guide on when to leave a relationship. For karmic relationships in particular, Kaiser also recommends seeing a medium, psychic, energetic healer, or past-life specialist to learn more about the karma you're working to balance and clear.
What about soulmates and twin flames?
You may be wondering whether you're dealing with a karmic relationship versus a soulmate or twin flame. According to Kaiser, the key distinction is this: Karmic relationships are about growth, where soulmates and twin flames are about healing.
"A soulmate is a person and people who are aligned to your soul and can change or influence your soul in so many profound ways," she says. "They can be friends, family members, even pets. Twin flames, known as twin souls, are literally the other half of your soul, and it always has a divine union with a divine purpose."
RELATED STORY: Soul Mate vs. Twin Flame: What's The Difference?
No matter what you call it, it helps to understand patterns in any relationship—especially toxic ones. Knowing if you're in a karmic relationship can help you move forward and work through whatever lesson is presenting itself through that person—so when you do move forward, you'll be ready for a love that lasts.
RELATED STORY: Green Flags: 16 Good Signs In A New Relationship Or Partner
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.