You might've heard someone call another person in their life—perhaps even you—a "kindred spirit." It's a sweet term to convey affection for somebody, but what does it actually mean?
What are kindred spirits?
"Kindred spirits are like-minded and like-souled people with whom an instant connection of love and understanding is mutually experienced," clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., tells mbg. "The connection is inimitable and often defies verbal description."
People who share common interests, values, or worldviews might be described as kindred spirits. "In more spiritual words, we could say that they resonate at the same frequency, and there is matching energy between them," Katherine Bihlmeier, a relationship coach specializing in energy work, tells mbg.
A kindred spirit might be a friend you instantly bonded with in college, then stayed close with despite moving to opposite sides of the country afterward. It could be a family member you have a deep friendship with. Or it could be a stranger you meet at an event and instantly feel drawn to, says Manly. A kindred spirit need not even be human—sometimes it's a pet you have an instant connection with, says clinical psychologist Jaime Zuckerman.
Signs of a kindred spirit:
1. You feel at peace around them.
Because a kindred spirit feels so familiar to you, being around them makes you feel calmer, says Manly. "There can be an immediate sense of relief as your spirit senses that you've found another soul who knows and understands you."
2. You have an unusual amount in common.
You and your kindred spirits will likely think alike, act alike, and somehow just feel alike. "When you meet a kindred spirit, you might feel as if you've met an ancient relative who has somehow shown up in the present," says Manly. "Kindred spirits often share the same quirks, values, and sense of humor. Kindred spirits tend to get each other in ways that others simply do not."
3. You learn about yourself through them.
Kindred spirits can sometimes come into your life and "bring you in touch with certain wisdom again" or "remind you of your own energy and frequency," says Bihlmeier. "By interacting with your kindred spirit, you get to see yourself more and remember more of who you are." They may hold up a mirror to you or simply act as a cheerleader to help you continue pursuing your passions and life purpose.
4. You tend to see things the same way.
In addition to sharing interests, you and your kindred spirits will likely see a lot of things similarly. "When you are in touch with this person, you will find a strong resonance with what they are speaking about," says Bihlmeier. "You might recognize a similarity in your viewpoints and outlook on life." For example, kindred spirits may share a deep dedication to telling and learning the truth even when it's uncomfortable, says intuitive David Sauvage.
5. You can sometimes tell what they're thinking or feeling.
Because you see things so similarly, you can often predict what your kindred spirit is going to say about a given topic. "Sometimes it feels telepathic," says Sauvage. "You know what they're thinking or feeling about something because, generally, that's what you think or feel about it, too."
6. You feel like you know them right away.
Often, kindred spirits feel like they know each other well the moment they meet or soon after, says Sauvage. You might have a "feeling of 'I know you!' when you may never have met before," he says, or "an excitement that you have a new playmate in the game of life."
7. They're a great support system.
"A kindred spirit will help you make great decisions in your life because they will get where you are coming from," says spiritual life coach Valerie Gangas. "Any kindred spirit will be a wonderful support system in your life. You can count on them. You'll respect each other and love each other, no matter what the circumstances are or choices you've made...again because they 'get' you; they understand you."
Kindred spirits versus soul mates.
"A soul mate does not need to be a kindred spirit, for soul mates can be very different from each other," says Manly. While kindred spirits tend to be birds of a feather, soul mates are more often a case of "opposites attract." In addition, soul mates often have a long history of past lives together, while kindred spirits may not, says Gangas. (Here's more about the different types of soul mates.)
"Soul mates are more intertwined in your life and day-to-day," Zuckerman adds. "Soul mates tend to have more of a direct and ongoing influence in your life." Kindred spirit connections, on the other hand, can be fleeting—and that's sometimes what makes them special.
Do kindred spirits fall in love?
Kindred spirits can fall in love, but there are also many kindred spirit connections that are not romantic, says Manly. Sometimes, kindred spirits get into romantic relationships that aren't actually meant to be just because they feel so drawn to each other, says Bihlmeier. "Because of this lightness and ease between them, there could be confusion about whether they should become a couple."
"Kindred spirits are more like co-conspirators," says Sauvage. "Sure, they can fall in love, but friendship is just as nice, if not better, for kindred spirits."
Whether or not you end up falling in love with them, kindred spirits tend to find you once you've done work on your own personal development. "I think one of the perks of 'waking up' is that it's easier for you to find your people, whether soul mates or kindred spirits," says Gangas. "They seem to just show up. And when they do, your rock-solid inner knowing allows you to be more open to meeting them at a deeper level right away."
Suzannah Weiss is a certified sexologist, sex educator, sex and love coach, and trained birth doula. She has degrees in cognitive neuroscience, modern culture and media, and gender and sexuality studies from Brown University and certifications from Everyone Deserves Sex Ed and the American College of Sexologists. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York magazine, and elsewhere, as well as on television shows like The Today Show and The View and in anthologies including Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World and The Big Book of Orgasms.