Yes, There's a Difference Between Twin Flames, Soulmates, and Karmic Connections—Here's How to Tell
And no, these relationships are not an excuse to tolerate toxic behavior.
When Megan Fox called Machine Gun Kelly her “twin flame” back in July of this year, she introduced the mainstream media to a romantic term that’s been circling within spiritual communities for years.
“I knew right away that he was what I call a twin flame," Fox said during the couple's first joint interview on Lala Kent and Randall Emmett's podcast, Give Them Lala ... With Randall. "Instead of a soulmate, a twin flame is actually where a soul has ascended into a high enough level that it can be split into two different bodies at the same time. So we're actually two halves of the same soul, I think. And I said that to him almost immediately because I felt it right away."
While twin flames might be a fairly new love label for some, many of us have heard of the term "soulmate"—and, if we’ve been lucky, we've probably even felt that we’ve already met ours.
The idea of meeting that one special person who is divinely meant for us is a compelling one. It evokes a feeling that our relationships are somehow cosmically guided, which, let’s be honest, is pretty damn romantic. However, not all spiritual romantic connections will last forever. There are other connections like karmic connections, which spiritual gurus believe are meant to serve lessons—sometimes harsh ones—for us to learn and grow from.
But between fiery twin flames, stable soulmates, and tough karmic connections, how do you know which is which and if you're in one of these spiritual-like relationships? Read on for more insight below.
What is a twin flame?
“Twin flames are deeply connected at a soul level. It is said they are the same soul, split into two physical bodies,” Danni, also known as the DivineFeminineUK, a twin flame tarot card reader on Instagram, tells HelloGiggles. “Because twins are so closely connected at a soul level, they share the same core frequency and will recognize themselves in one another.”
The romance and passion between twin flames are unlike any connection, including soulmates and karmic connections.
“People definitely marry their soulmate. But it’s a calm, safe feeling of home,” says Mystic Michaela, an aura reader and psychic medium. “Twin flames don’t necessarily feel that. It’s an intense and passionate calling. It makes you feel alive 24/7.”
As to why twin flames feel so intense, Cassady Cayne, a spiritual author, says it’s because they are, “in essence, the closest soulmate connection there is. It's very intense and magnetic—emotionally, sexually, and, above all, energetically. In this universe, everything is energy in motion, including us deep down. That’s why there’s such a magnetic and powerful attraction between twin [flames].”
Also, they’re called twin "flames" for a reason, meaning the connection is pretty hot.
“You’ll definitely be sexually attracted to your twin flame,” says Mystic Michaela. “People ask me if their mother or if their cat is a twin flame, and the answer is no! There is a definite need to join energies when you encounter your twin flame. There are instantaneous passions and flames. You don’t get that with soulmates. It hits you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, all at the same time.”
The spiritual component of a twin flame union is also key, says Danni. “The most significant aspect of the journey is the spiritual awakening that is triggered when you meet your [twin flame],” she says. “Another important aspect is the nonphysical connection that you share with your twin—the telepathy, the signs, and synchronicities, picking up one another's energy. You just don't experience this level of telepathy and energetic connection with anyone else but your twin.”
What isn’t considered a twin flame journey?
“I've heard people claim that the twin flame label excuses toxic behavior. This journey can be intense at times and even painful as you move through cycles of healing and growth, but your true twin will never abuse you or intentionally hurt you,” says Danni. “The essence of this journey is expansion, empowerment, and sovereignty, none of which will be found in an abusive or toxic dynamic.”
Mystic Michaela has also seen those types of toxic relationships being mistaken for twin flames in her readings.
“Someone who ‘love bombs’ you is not your twin flame,” she says. “Love bombing is when someone comes on very strong [in the beginning of the relationship], and they’re so in your space that you don’t have the ability to know what your space is anymore. A twin flame isn’t someone who mentally or verbally or emotionally abuses you. No one is being nasty. But some people get into relationships where they fight a lot and think that’s their twin flame, and [they're] not.”
In fact, Cayne thinks the biggest misunderstanding of twin flame relationships is that it glamorizes a push-and-pull dynamic. “The biggest misconception I see, and it’s super widespread, is the belief that it has to be difficult or full of drama,” she says. “That’s not true at all! It’s such a common belief, and it, unfortunately, tends to attract that exact experience: drama, struggle, and a lot of waiting.”
Another misconception is the over-romanticization of what it means to have a twin flame, says Danni, mistaking it for a fairytale. “While it's true that there is simply no love or connection like the one you share with your twin, the journey hardly ever follows your preconceived idea of how a relationship should unfold," she says.
Mystic Michaela says that while the twin flame connection is “easy” to romanticize because it's very powerful, that doesn't mean that it's necessary to have one. "If you’re looking too hard to have one then you could end up with a narcissist or someone who’s looking to take advantage of you," she explains.
The truth is, says Cayne, a twin flame relationship is meant to be a journey of love. “Difficulties between twins are always due to energy blocks and negativity the two have taken on in their human life. Deep down the connection is all love," she says.
What is a soulmate?
According to Mystic Michaela, what’s most significant about a soulmate is that you can have more than one soulmate in a lifetime. “They can be anything from a lover to a friend to a family member,” she says. “Deep down, a soulmate is a friend. It’s a connection that [feels] comfortable and safe and stable.”
Danni adds that “you might feel like you know a soulmate instantly or feel at home in their presence. Every connection you make in life is about your growth, and the growth that you experience with a soulmate will feel enjoyable, easy, and unproblematic.”
The difference between soulmates and twin flames, says Cayne, is that “soulmates vibrate at a similar frequency to us, deep down, whereas twin flames share an exact, identical core soul frequency. It means the true twin flame connection is incredibly heightened and transformative, even more so than a soulmate connection.”
What is a karmic connection?
“A karmic partner is a soul that you agreed to work within this lifetime—someone who you may have unresolved karma with,” says Danni. “Like soulmates, karmic partners may be romantic, platonic, or familial. Quite often, one or both parents are your karmic partners. Unlike soulmate connections, the growth that you experience with a karmic partner will feel very uncomfortable.”
Cayne says many of us attract a “karmic partner” to showcase the kinds of wounds we need to heal. “They’re often very challenging connections,” she says.
Which is also why karmic connections are often confused with twin flame relationships. “This is because the twin flame healing journey can be quite intense and turbulent, much like [how] it feels with a karmic partner,” says Danni. “The key difference is that a twin flame will trigger a spiritual awakening, and you cannot cut the connection with a twin flame.”
As Mystic Michaela puts it: “A karmic connection doesn’t necessarily stay in your life for a long time. It could be a whirlwind, but it ends. You don’t have a bittersweet aching about it. You learn what you need to learn, and you move on.”
If everyone has a soulmate and most of us have a karmic connection, does everyone have a twin flame?
The simple answer: no.
The more complicated answer? You might have one—just not in this lifetime.
“If you’re on a spiritual journey, you’ll tend to meet yours, as opposed to those who aren’t into spirituality in this lifetime,” says Mystic Michaela. “In other instances, you can have one, but they might not be alive or in this dimension.”
For instance, Mystic Michaela recalled a client who was a happily married woman who would have dreams about someone missing them—but it was someone who she never met. “She ended up having past-life regression, and this same guy would keep showing up. She knew it was her twin flame, but this guy isn’t in this lifetime—he’s on the other side—but he keeps coming into her life energetically," she explains. "She’s totally in love with her husband yet longs for a man who she’s never met. I’ve heard about this happening more than once with other clients.”
While Danni says twin flames are rare, she believes we have more twins on Earth right now than there have ever been before. “It’s because of the importance of their mission and the need for unconditional love on Earth at this time.”
Because, in essence, “The twin flame path is about meeting ourselves and others in love, compassion, and forgiveness. It’s a journey of becoming more whole within and to elevate how we function," says Cayne.
But don't stress if you don't have a twin flame, says Mystic Michaela. “It doesn’t mean you have a less passionate love or that you’re less spiritual. You’re deserving of finding the love that’s right for you. In the end, what’s meant to be yours will be yours," she explains.