This article was originally published at Brides.com.
The idea of meeting your soulmate is the glorious stuff of rom-coms—and apparently real-life, everyday people, too. “It’s the realization that this person who shares your life is a part of yourself,” says family and marital psychologist Dr. Michael Tobin. “A soulmate is an individual that has a lasting impact on your life.”
MEET THE EXPERT
Dr. Michael Tobin is a family and marital psychologist with over 40 years of experience. He is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Riding the Edge: My Love Song to Deborah and founder of WholeFamily.com.
Dr. Tobin explains that the best universal definition of a soulmate is feeling deeply connected to another person but not in a dependent or needy way. “Your soulmate is your fellow traveler on the journey of life—you need one another to grow beyond the limitations of your individual selves.” The guiding principle in a relationship between soulmates is that needs are equally met because a soulmate relationship should challenge you to move from selfishness to giving, he adds.
How to Know You’ve Met Your Soulmate
If you’re wondering if you’ve met your soulmate—or are currently with your unique flame, Dr. Tobin has optimistic news for you: “I believe everyone could discover their soulmate. However, to find your soulmate, you must first understand that humans are not meant to be alone and that the purpose of a relationship is not merely to get our individual needs met—but rather as a challenge to grow—and to help our partners reach their potential.”
As for when you might meet your particular person, Dr. Tobin says that there isn’t a perfect age or life stage for discovering your soulmate—and that is exciting news. “I know a 74-year-old woman who reconnected with her high school flame after a 56-year separation. She calls him her soulmate. They were meant to be together during the later years of their lives.”
You might be wondering if you met your soulmate on a vacation, subway stop, or that time in the rain when a stranger invited you to share an umbrella—but didn’t realize it at the time. According to Dr. Tobin, yes, this is possible. “Everything in life is about timing. I believe it’s a matter of self-knowledge. When you understand that a relationship is not about control or the simple need of fulfillment but is essential to our psychological and spiritual development, then you’re open to the possibility of meeting your soulmate.”
If you’re curious about what to do if you feel like you’ve experienced a ships-in-the-night experience, Dr. Tobin suggests embracing it because it actually may have been what’s known as a “soul crossing.” He explains that this is a brief encounter with someone who crosses our path and has a lasting impact on the direction we choose in life.
Knowing or understanding the signs you met your soulmate is interesting in itself because there isn’t just one generic type of soulmate out there. Most people equate the term “soulmate” with romantic love. Ahead, the types of soulmates that exist and how to know if you’ve found one.
Types of Soulmates
Not all soulmates are the stuff of life-long romance. Here are six different kinds to look out for in your own life.
“Romantic soulmates ignite one another’s passion throughout their time together,” explains Dr. Tobin. “They have the capacity to bring one another to heights of physical and emotional pleasure.” However, we’ve all experienced breakups, even if we were with someone who hit the hot and heavy marks. “Passion can be a brief flame that burns hot and then extinguishes. For those rare romantic soulmates, the flame burns continuously because they’re both committed to keeping the fire lit throughout their time together.”
Has it been years since you connected with a friend from elementary school, but when you do, you just click? “A soul partner is that person who you haven’t seen in years, and when you reunite, feel like time and separation have no bearing on the depth of the connection,” explains Dr. Tobin.
You know you’ve met a karmic soulmate when you’re in sync about common purposes. “You’re both here together to make a difference in the world, and your skills complement one another—you’re ideal partners to fulfill a shared mission.” This kind of relationship doesn’t require love or intimacy and instead relies on putting your best selves forward to achieve something that matters.
This is the yin to your yang, the peanut butter to your jelly—you get it. “Friends are an essential part of our lifetime journey, and those of the soulmate type help us laugh when we’re in pain, nurture us when we’re suffering, flow with us when we’re riding high, challenge us to be real, love us with our warts, and never abandon us in anger. And we do the same with them.”
You know you’ve found a kindred soulmate when you pretty much agree on all of the small and big stuff. “You love the same things; laugh at the same jokes; agree and disagree with love and affection; compete with gusto but without bitterness or jealousy. These people share the same journey toward truth and love,” Dr. Tobin says.
This is an interesting type of soulmate because it’s when two people are bound by a common commitment to speak the truth, be emotionally open with one another, own up to deceits, and be authentic. A soul contract might look like a married couple, where one spouse cheated, but they stay together, not for the kids or appearances but because there’s a deep law of attraction within pulling them together for their lifetime. Ready to Tie the Knot? 5 Reasons to Get Married
Signs You’ve Found Your Soulmate
The signs you’ve met your soulmate are kind of infinite and can overlap with the different kinds of soulmates you encounter in your lifetime. Dr. Tobin believes an important truth about relationships is that you have to create love and nurture soulmate connections. “Love isn’t delivered to us because we believe we deserve it. We must work at being loving and then we’ll receive love in return.”
They Give You a Sense of Calm and Storm
He also says that a sense of both calm and storm is an indicator light. “Sometimes a soulmate is here to shake us out of complacency, to challenge us to think and to act differently, to grow beyond our comfort zones. This is never smooth and peaceful. Yet with that same soulmate, there are and will be moments of exquisite connection, serenity, and harmony.”
You Feel One Another’s Pain
Another sign you’ve met your match is the way you react to their pain. “It’s hard to imagine soulmates who don’t bleed with one another, who don’t feel one another’s pain, who are absent of empathy and compassion,” Dr. Tobin says.
As a final note, “Soulmates may be like two strands of spaghetti entangled in such a way that they don’t know where one begins and the other ends,” says Dr. Tobin. And at the same time, some soulmate relationships serve their purpose and expire. The good news is, the consensus is, we’ll all experience a soulmate connection at some point in our life.