The Difference Between Soul Mates & Twin Flames, Explained
Think you've met your soul mate? Or could they possibly be your twin flame? While we hear a lot about both terms, these two kinds of relationships are very different.
Here's how—plus all your soul mate versus twin flame FAQs, answered.
What is a soul mate?
Think of a soul mate as someone cut from the same energetic cloth as you. "A soul mate is about a love connection but also about a connection with someone who accepts you and knows you," licensed psychotherapist Babita Spinelli tells mbg. "Soul mates are often described as a strong connection between two people that can be romantic partners or friends."
There are many types of soul mates, from romantic soul mates to soul families to kindred spirits.
What is a twin flame?
Twin flames are often believed to be two halves of one soul or "mirrors of each other," Spinelli says. This includes both strengths and weaknesses. "Twin flames are generally described as two individuals who very intensely connect, usually as romantic partner, because of a shared pain," she adds.
That said, twin flame relationships aren't necessarily about love, and it often requires a great deal of inner work for two twin flames to make a partnership work.
According to Spinelli, there's a common misconception that twin flames are supposed to "complete" each other—which can lead to an unhealthy dynamic between the two, as people are supposed to feel complete on their own.
What makes them different?
The main difference is the idea that twin flames are two halves of the whole, where soul mates are not.
While twin flames are thought to be one soul split into two bodies, soul mates are simply two separate souls that are extraordinarily linked.
But on top of that, Spinelli adds that twin flame relationships can quickly become toxic, unlike a soul mate connection.
"In a twin flame relationship, your twin flame may mirror your own issues, unhealthy habits, or imbalances. In addition, when twin flames are apart, they may have a hard time functioning," Spinelli explains. "You may also end up defining your self-worth by the relationship."
This makes them great for encouraging growth and awakenings, but again—difficult to make work in the long run.
Soul mate relationships are often much more stable, with Spinelli noting "a soul mate is a person ideally suited as a life partner or close friend."
RELATED STORY: How To Do A Twin Flame Tarot Reading: Card Spread + FAQs
How are they similar?
It can be hard to distinguish between soul mates and twin flames, especially at first, as the initial encounter with either will often give you a sense of familiarity and deep attraction.
Both are people we deeply connect with, Spinelli notes. "They are both relationships that touch one's soul at a deeper level."
Both twin flames and soul mates are part of your destiny and often feel like home, according to spiritual author Shannon Kaiser.
"When you meet your soul mate or twin flame, you feel like this is a person you are destined to be with. And you feel you can be yourself around them," she previously told mbg. "This is because you’ve known both your soul mate and your twin flame in a past life."
Keep in mind
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you end up with your soul mate or twin flame?
You can end up with either your soul mate or your twin flame; it can go either way and will depend on your personal circumstances and relationship. "Usually with twin flames, once the lesson is learned, you have accomplished the goal of the relationship," Spinelli says. But if the timing is right and each person has done the work on themselves, she adds, it's not impossible for twin flames to end up together.
Kaiser also adds that not everyone has a twin flame, and you are not incomplete without them if you don't. "This is just one path of many to bring you into spiritual awareness and ultimate alignment," she says. Plus, she adds, soul mate connections aren't always romantic. When they are, though, there may be a greater likelihood of long-term success for soul mates compared to twin flames.
Can soul mates be twin flames?
Going by definition, no, soul mates cannot be twin flames and vice versa. "Soul mates are different souls that we encounter on our path, often sent to help awaken and challenge us so we can become a better version of ourselves," Kaiser says, "whereas a twin flame is the same soul split into two bodies."
"Twin flames cause personal awakenings but may not be your soul mate," Spinelli adds.
How are soul mates and twin flames related to karmic relationships?
Both soul mates and twin flames can often be considered karmic relationships, as they both involve growth and healing, Spinelli explains. "The karmic relationship is like a teacher or guide, but they are temporary," she says. "A twin flame relationship and a karmic relationship are similar in working through life lessons."
"They come together for divine purpose and balancing out karma," Kaiser adds. "Soul mates come together for life lessons and experiences." In either case, these are people you made a soul agreement with before entering this life.
Which is better: twin flame or soul mate?
There's really no right or wrong answer here, and it greatly depends on who you ask. According to Kaiser, it all comes down to someone's own inner growth. While soul mate relationships are often less intense, twin flame relationships can be extremely chaotic.
"Twin flame relationships can be much deeper and more profound than a soul mate partnership because they lead to wholeness," Kaiser says—but that's if both people have done their soul's work.
"A soul mate can be a friend, romantic partner, or family member. Twin flame relationships can be more intense and often come together to work through life lessons or achieve something greater," Spinelli adds. "Neither is better than the other, just different."
So, whether they're your soul mate or twin flame, the core idea is that people come into our lives for a reason, whether temporarily or for life. Everyone has something to teach or offer us, as we do for them. And when we continuously focus on our own personal growth, we can show up better for the people in our lives, whether they be a twin flame or soul mate.
Both twin flame and soul mate relationships are incredibly potent, powerful, and rare.
But just because they're strong doesn't mean they're unbreakable—it's still important to work on a healthy partnership and your own individual growth.
When you do that, the two of you will be catalysts for love, growth, and harmony in each other's lives.
If you believe you've met your twin flame or soul mate, but aren't certain which one, we've outlined their differences and similarities above.
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.