Life partner: what it is and why it’s different to a soulmate

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What is a life partner?

A life partner is defined as a romantic partner for life. This can be same-sex or opposite-sex, married or without marriage, and monogamous or polyamorous.

A life partner has traditionally been seen as someone who you share your romantic life with.

You date, maybe get married, move in together, have children if you decide to follow that path, and grow old together.

But the more open we become about love and the more we accept a plethora of relationship types, the more it seems logical to include friendships and close connections in this definition as well.

After all, some people never meet the love of their life in the traditional sense, but they have that one special person whom they share everything but a bed with.

Shouldn’t that count for something? We think so.

Here is our new-age definition of life partnership for the new millennium. Keep in mind that this just our opinion and it may be different for others.

1) Significant Other

We’ll start with the traditional definition of a life partner.

It’s no secret that we all seek love and safety from one another, but even the traditional definition of life partner has moved away from heterosexual relationships to include every human being on earth, regardless of their gender, sexuality, or fluidity.

We all just want to be loved. It’s great to see that so many people are embracing this new way of loving one another and while there are still struggles for some, the idea that a life partner can be anyone is really starting to stick.

According to Minda Zetlin in INC magazine, the best choices for a life partner have two specific traits:

“But studies consistently show that the best choices for a life partner are people who display two very specific traits: conscientiousness and self-control.”

2) Mentor

Moving away from romantic love, we’re focusing on a different kind of life partner and starting the conversation around the fact that your life partner doesn’t have to be just one person.

You can have many people in your life that play important roles in your development and growth.

For instance, you may have an intellectual life partner that you share many moments with and challenge one another, such as in a mentor and mentee relationship.

You don’t need this person to love you romantically, but you do need their help, guidance, and reassurance in the world related to your goals and aspirations.

The reason it’s important to consider multiple life partners for different needs is because we can’t expect one single person to be all of these things to us.

That’s what causes romantic love to fall apart.

3) Collaborator

Another example of an untraditional life partnership is a collaborator. This is a creative relationship that fuels your creativity and perspective in the world.

This person might be a coworker or friend, or someone that you don’t actually know in real life but admire from afar, such as an inspirational author or an important person in your community.

When we limit our definition of life partner to romantic love, we lose out on the chance to allow others to influence us and help us see the world in a different way.

We may love these people, but in a way that has nothing to do with romantic love. They help us show up in the world as the people we want to be and for that, we are thankful.

4) Confidante

Finally, another kind of life partner that we may cherish and hold near to us is a confidante. This is typically a close friend or relative.

The person we share everything with – and yes, the person you share everything with might not be your romantic partner.

That’s okay. We all get things we need from different people in our lives. We need friends and confidantes; otherwise, who would we complain about our romantic partners to?

Every human has a purpose, but we often look outside of ourselves for that purpose.

When we start to look at one another and our connection to one another we see that we mean many things to many people. It’s easy to define ourselves as husbands, wives, romantic partners, spouses, or friends even, but when you look below the surface of these relationships, you see that each role we play is different depending on the person we are with.

Don’t limit your definitions of love to the person you share your bed with. There’s plenty of life love to go around and we can all offer something unique and different in this world.

Expanding your definition of life partner makes you feel more welcomed and accepted in your own world, and that’s a beautiful thing.

The Difference Between a Soul Mate and Life Partner

The term soulmate is often interchanged with the term, life partner.

It’s a common misconception that we have accepted as a society and it’s time to rethink our definitions of these terms so that we can see just how fulfilling and meaningful our relationships really are to us.

When we lump soul mate and life partner into the same basket, we miss out on opportunities to expand our minds with different people and to experience life in new ways.

When we pin the responsibilities of a soul mate and life partner on one person, we end up disappointed.

That’s just simply too much for one person to bear. Let us clarify a new definition of each for you and show you that it’s okay to have both a soul mate and a life partner that are not the same person.

1) Soul Mates Come and Go

While you might be inclined to believe that your soul mate will be with you until the end of time, the more popularized version of this definition is that soul mates come and go as you need them.

You feel so strongly connected to them that you cannot imagine your life without them, but the truth is that they are there to help you learn a lesson in life so you can be better for it.

It’s heartbreaking to lose a soul mate, but this person doesn’t have to be a romantic lover. In fact, you’ll often think your life partner is your soul mate, but you’ll be disappointed by that belief.

Soul mates are friends, family, and confidantes that lead you into a direction in your life that you need to go. They are not forever and you can have more than one.

2) Life Partners Come in All Shapes and Sizes

While soul mates come in and out of your life, life partners come into your life and stay there for eternity.

It’s important to point out, however, that your life partner may not be a romantic partner either, but they will have a great impact on the direction and influence of your life because you will love and admire them in a different way than you do your romantic partner.

Pining all of that on a romantic partner causes rifts between you. Your romantic partner has no other job but to love you.

Your life partner can inspire you, challenge you, help you learn lessons and grow as a person. Your romantic partner loves you unconditionally and won’t try to get you to level up.

3) Soul Mates Connect with You in a Different Way

Even if you aren’t romantically linked to a soul mate that comes into your life, you are going to feel an incredible attraction to their energy and mind.

You’ll want to spend a lot of time with them and you might confuse this attraction as romantic love, but it’s not, or at least, it doesn’t have to be.

Soul mates are meant to bring you to new places in your life and you’ll feel such a connection to them that you’ll think you’ve known them your entire life.

You are both on the same wavelength and that makes it easy to fall in love with these people. Pay attention to why you believe they have come into your life and look for the signs and lessons they are leaving for you to grow and change.

4) Life Partners Need to Learn About You

One of the biggest differences between a life partner and a soul mate is that the moment you meet your soul mate you feel instantly connected to them and you don’t need words to describe how you are feeling.

They can read you in a different way than other people can.

When you meet a life partner, you have to get to know one another and don’t connect as immediately on a deeper level.

You might not always agree on things and don’t see eye-to-eye in the world, but you know there is a purpose and a role for you both in that kind of relationship.

Final thoughts

It’s a unique situation when you are in love with either of these kinds of partners, but remember that there is a difference.

They are subtle differences, but they are important to keep in mind so you don’t get confused about what kind of relationship you have.

Soul mates come and go and life partners stick around for the long-haul.

Neither of them needs to be romantic partners, although they typically do turn into some kind of romantic love or longing for the person who meets them because they offer such a strong and safe connection.

Getting to know your life partner is part of the fun, but when you are struck by the energy of your soul mate, you’ll wonder what you ever did without them.

Having a lot in common with someone doesn’t make them your soul mate. Both your life partner and soul mate come into your life to make it better.

They change you in some way. You’ll feel like you have been rocked to your core and you won’t know why.

Be careful, though, a jolt of energy like that makes you rethink your entire life, including any existing romantic love you might already have. Proceed with caution.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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