A Twin Flame Is Actually *Not* The Same Thing as a Soul Mate—Here’s How To Spot Both


I’ve been hearing a lot about the concept of twin flames lately, but much discussion seems to center on twin flames and soul mates being one and the same. As it turns out, that’s not the case at all. “A twin flame comes into your life when you are ready for self-mastery,” says Dr. Harmony, an intuitive energy healer and author of Twin Flame Codebreaker. “They are present to bring soul growth and personal transformation.” Sure, that might sound something like a soul mate, but to be sure, these fated connections are necessarily your star-crossed love, or destined kindred spirit in life.

Below, Dr. Harmony and life coach Shannon Kaiser, author of the forthcoming Return to You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace, break down what a twin flame really is, and how you might distinguish one from a potential soul mate, no matter when and how they enter your life.

What exactly is a twin flame?

“Your twin flame is a fragment of you,” says Dr. Harmony. In spiritual terms, you can picture their soul as a different incarnation of your own. “This kind of relationship is meant to bring your soul and this other soul into oneness or wholeness,” says Kaiser.

Because they are so fundamentally similar to you, a twin flame operates almost like a spiritual mirror, reflecting back to you both your strengths and your weaknesses, struggles, or past traumas. “Specifically, they will help you awaken to suppressed sides of yourself that you have not been willing to face,” says Dr. Harmony. “The connection opens you up to being raw, honest, and vulnerable.”

“Typically, a twin flame will reopen unhealed wounds, causing emotional pain that could leave you feeling distraught—but all with the higher purpose of helping you fully see, feel, heal, and learn to love yourself.” —Dr. Harmony, intuitive energy healer

As a result, the experience of meeting your twin flame can actually invoke some inner chaos or turmoil. “Typically, they will reopen unhealed wounds, causing emotional pain that could leave you feeling distraught—but all with the higher purpose of helping you fully see, feel, heal, and learn to love yourself,” says Dr. Harmony. Essentially, with these types of connections, a breakdown could come before a breakthrough (you’ve been warned).

While you’re on that journey, though, a relationship (platonic or romantic) with a twin flame could have a certain push-pull energy to it. Perhaps you meet someone and have a whirlwind romance for a few months, and then break things off abruptly, only to wind up back together years later because of a twist of fate; or, maybe you spend a flight chatting with a stranger, and it inspires a massive change of heart and a new life direction.

In any case, there’s a clear feeling of your life having been turned upside down by meeting this person, says Kaiser. In other words, their entrance into your world creates a clear before and after.

3 signs you’ve found your twin flame

A twin flame typically enters your life for the first time when you have some emotional growing to do, prompting what Kaiser calls “a crash course in spiritual advancement.” As a result, there’s not really much value in searching for this person; either, they’ll find you—or, as Kaiser notes, you may not actually have a twin flame. “If that’s the case, you’re certainly not incomplete without one,” she says. “A twin-flame relationship is just one path of many to support spiritual awareness and alignment.”

That said, there are a few questions you can ask yourself, should you suspect your twin flame has found you (or, in a roundabout way, you’ve found them):

  1. Do you feel an immediate bond? You’ll know when you’ve found your twin flame thanks to an instantaneous energetic bond, says Dr. Harmony. Often, you can feel the bond more than you can explain or understand it, she adds. Meeting them could leave you reeling while asking yourself, ‘Who is this person?’ and ‘What is this connection?’
  2. Does this person feel like home? Consider who pops into your mind when you think about someone who feels like home—someone who instinctively understands you without you ever really needing to explain yourself.
  3. Does this person challenge you? If you’re currently on the outs with someone, that doesn’t mean they’re not your twin flame. That’s because a twin flame can simultaneously bring out the best and the worst of you. So, reconnecting might require shedding the layers of your shadow self that represent negative qualities no longer serving you.

Although you may be able to mentally and emotionally commit to the idea that your twin flame is out there despite them not currently being in your life, this also isn’t about putting your life on hold to wait for them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Often, whenever a person remains focused on their inner work and finds personal security is when they unite or reunite with their other spiritual half later in life, says Kaiser.

How this type of kindred spirit differs from a soul mate

All this talk about destined connection might conjure the idea of a soul mate. But in actuality, a soul-mate relationship has a few key distinctions from that of a twin flame.

For starters, while it’s possible to have a number of soul mates (both romantic and platonic), spiritual mentors like Dr. Harmony and Kaiser contend you can only have one twin flame. And while that person is like your other half, or a part of your soul reincarnated into a different person’s body, a soul mate is a separate soul that has a deep connection to yours, says Kaiser: “Soul mates are two souls that made an agreement before entering this life to meet up in some way.”

While a soul mate is certainly someone who’s on a similar life path to your own and with whom you feel like you can be 100-percent yourself, they likely won’t call you out, challenge you, or push you to grow in the ways that a twin flame typically does, according to Dr. Harmony. “It’s easier to fall in love with a soul mate and tougher to break ties with them,” she says. “You may even find yourself in a codependent relationship with a soul mate.”

Not so with a twin flame. “The initial contact with them can feel similar to a soul-mate connection, but the intensity is much greater because they represent your strongest mirrored reflection,” Dr. Harmony says. “Your twin flame ‘shows up’ to help you find your true self and align with your life purpose.”

Because that’s no easy feat, uniting and interacting with your twin flame often has that push-pull dynamic noted above. “You come together, then pull apart to release abandonment wounds and karma, and let go of old patterns, subconscious programming, and limiting belief systems that no longer support the best version of yourself,” Dr. Harmony says. “The intense experience creates new awareness that requires you and your twin flame to change your current life circumstances in order to eventually reunite again.”

If you feel a destiny-worthy connection to someone with whom you’ve always have bad timing, they’re more likely your twin flame than your soul mate.

But since finding this person isn’t meant to glorify the on-again, off-again relationship trope, let’s frame this in a different context: If you feel a destiny-worthy connection to someone with whom you’ve always have bad timing, they’re more likely your twin flame than your soul mate.

What it’s like to be in romantic relationship with your twin flame

Whereas a romantic relationship with a soul mate tends to have an air of calmness and support, a twin-flame romance often feels more supercharged and profound, says Kaiser. There’s an intensity to the relationship that can “ignite your inner fire and give you a desire to experience more passion and fulfillment in all areas of life,” says Dr. Harmony.

If that sounds a little wild or turbulent, it’s because it certainly can be. “Twin-flame relationships can lead to wholeness and help you feel more seen and understood—but only if both people have done their soul’s work,” says Kaiser. “If one or both people are not ready or willing to grow, the romance can be dramatic, or even toxic.”

As a result, most twin-flame romances have greatest success later in life, when both people are secure within themselves and committed to wholeness, says Kaiser. This is especially important to note if you still feel connected to someone in your past with whom you have a similar background; your shared experiences are meaningful and could form the foundation for your growth together at a future point in time.

Because of the powerful ebbs and flows of any romantic twin-flame relationship, Dr. Harmony describes it as two people not only working together, but dancing together in rhythm. And just like any duet, it tends to work best if each person has learned to dance solo first.

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