What Are Soul Ties & How Do You Break Them? We Asked The Experts
From soul mates to twin flames, we can have all sorts of relationships with the many different people in our lives. It's not always easy to discern what exactly is happening within a relationship when you're the one in the middle of it, so here, we're breaking down "soul ties."
Somewhat largely misunderstood, soul ties aren't just about sex—though sex certainly can strengthen or enhance a soul tie. So what is it, really? We asked the experts, plus got the lowdown on how to break a soul tie if you feel stuck in one.
What is a soul tie?
A soul tie is a connection with someone deeply embedded into your soul, certified sex therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson, LCSW, CST, tells mbg. "Often it's thought to happen after you have intercourse with someone," she notes, adding it's often presented from a very cisgender, heteronormative perspective.
The idea that intercourse causes a soul tie has roots in the Christian tradition, "to perpetuate the idea that if you have sex outside of marriage, you'll be connected to someone," Blaylock-Johnson explains. But she goes on to say that "soul ties," at least in regard to sex, are really attachments in disguise and "an over-spiritualization of normal feelings." Additionally, although the bonding hormone oxytocin is released during orgasm1, not all sexual partners go on to feel emotionally bonded to each other after the experience. (See casual dating and friends with benefits situations, both of which can be done in a healthy way.)
With that in mind, professional intuitive and author of Self-Care for Empaths Tanya Carroll Richardson says soul ties can also refer to the broad term describing any kind of soul connection between two people. "You could have known each other in a past life, be from the same soul family, or simply have a soul contract to meet up in this lifetime and have some type of relationship or experience together."
And they don't have to be romantic relationships, she adds. You may even quickly realize this person isn't an uplifting presence in your life. "You might have strong feelings or be drawn to someone initially," she explains, "but as soon as you get to know them, you quickly realize you don't want to be around them. Honor that feeling and intuitive hit."
7 signs you have a soul tie with someone:
You feel connected on a deeper level.
Having a soul tie means you are bonded on a deeper level, at the level of Spirit, Richardson tells mbg. "While we are all connected, soul ties are something special, even though they are common." Feeling a profound sense of connection to someone is one sign you could be experiencing a soul tie.
They elicit strong reactions from you.
There's a level of intensity to soul ties, and while they don't all look the same, you can be sure everything will be amplified—the good and the bad. "You might be immediately comfortable with someone or be very intrigued or curious about someone," Richardson says, adding, "Look for a strong or noticeably different reaction than normal."
They feel familiar.
On top of strong reactions to them, this person likely feels familiar to you. As Richardson notes, "You could have the feeling you knew them somewhere before or, even if they've only been in your life a short while, feel as if they have always been around."
You may feel like they "complete" you.
Sometimes, and particularly when a soul tie is activating an attachment wound, Blaylock-Johnson explains you may feel like this person completes you. This is especially true in the case of romantic soul tie relationships. This is when soul ties veer into toxic territory—which we'll talk more about shortly.
Your relationship feels unique or one-of-a-kind.
Richardson notes that oftentimes when it comes to soul ties, they're unique and offer an element of newness. "Look for feelings and experiences you've never had before," she says, such as never having felt that much sexual passion with someone else, for example, or even doing something completely new together, like starting a new business venture or project.
They showed up at a significant time.
"Soul ties can show up at pivotal times in your life," Richardson explains. Perhaps this person showed up at the exact moment you needed "help, healing, or expertise they have to offer," she adds. Ask yourself what was going on in your life when you first met and what they had to offer.
A part of you feels like it's missing if they're not in your life.
And lastly, as Blaylock-Johnson tells mbg, the feeling of having a soul tie with someone can often become painful if things go south, as soul ties can often turn into attachment (or be mistaken for attachment altogether). "A lot of times, people may experience a feeling of brokenness," she says, "as if a part of them is missing because they're no longer connected to this person."
Can soul ties be one sided?
Not unlike toxic twin flame scenarios, soul ties can also become toxic and one-sided. That's certainly not to say they always are, but as Blaylock-Johnson explains, feeling as if someone can complete you, or you're somehow broken without them, are actually signs of attachment. "People look for their partners to complete them, and they get lost in their role as a partner within a relationship and lose their individuality," she says. "That can influence that negative attachment."
"Sometimes," she adds, "one person can be a bit more attached or have the feeling that they're more connected than the other, so really understanding your own attachment style may be helpful so you can then better advocate for yourself and what it is you're wanting and needing in your relationship."
As Richardson adds, you should never stay in an unhealthy situation simply because you feel you have a soul tie with someone. "Many relationships and situations in life are not meant to last forever and have a natural expiration date," she explains. "If you feel you have a strong soul tie with someone, but they still don't want to date you, be in a business partnership with you, etc., honor their own free will and wisdom."
Breaking soul ties.
So, if you've made it this far and you're fairly certain this is a soul tie you need to break, what do you do? Firstly, Blaylock-Johnson emphasizes the importance of knowing you are whole and complete on your own. "Specifically within the Christian tradition, there's the idea that when people are married, they become one. Even if you do ascribe to that belief," she says, "think of it like 1 + 1 = 1, not ½ + ½ = 1."
She also notes that losing a connection with someone isn't easy, and whether you're looking at it through the lens of breaking a soul tie or healing in some other sense, "making sure you connect with an appropriate professional who can help you through that" is important. Richardson echoes this, recommending you get any help you need, whether from loved ones or mental health professionals.
And as Richardson adds: Remember, you have lots of options in this lifetime. If you feel you have a soul tie with a friend but you have both outgrown that friendship, "don't feel that you'll never find another special friend. The universe is very receptive and will help you find new friendships that are more aligned and appropriate for your life now," she says.
A ritual for breaking soul ties:
For a simple ritual to help release people with love—that you can do without even talking to them—Richardson offers this practice:
- Sit in meditation.
- Call on any angels or spirit guides to be with you as well.
- Tell the person's soul that you wish them well and all the best in life, but you simply don't want to be in relationship with them anymore. (The person's physical ears won't hear this release, but their soul definitely will!)
The bottom line.
Soul ties are one of the many kinds of relationships we can have throughout our lives, and they aren't uncommon. They're also not always a bad thing, though they can often be characterized by unhealthy attachment. It's totally possible for two people to have a soul tie and to have a strong, healthy relationship. But if it's verging on toxicity and you think you may need to walk away, as Richardson says, "Remember that sometimes you have to let the old go to show the universe there is room for the new."
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.