What Is a Karmic Soulmate—and Can Karmic Relationships Last?
Editor's note: Some of the sources for this story requested their full names be withheld.
Diana met her "karmic soulmate," Mia, when she was 7 but wouldn't know it until 24 years later when they bumped into each other at a kickball game in their Midwestern hometown over the summer.
Over postgame drinks, Diana felt pulled toward Mia as if by a tractor beam and was overcome by the obvious chemistry. It was as if part of Diana's sexuality, spirituality and consciousness was awakened in a way she didn't know existed.
Prior to their reunion, the two had fallen out of touch and never spoke again after Mia switched elementary schools. When they reconnected, Diana learned Mia had been watching her, yearning for her and in love with her for a long time.
"I was shocked when I couldn't get her off my mind the next day, the whole next week, really," recalled Diana, 32, of Los Angeles. "I'd never fallen for a woman before. I'd only dated men, although I suspected I might be pansexual throughout my life. My draw to her was different."
What is a karmic soulmate?
The term "karmic soulmate" dates back to ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. It's described as a spiritual connection to help you break negative cycles from your past lifetime, release karma and allow yourself to grow, according to Sidhharrth S. Kumaar, a numerologist and relationship coach based in Delhi, India.
"Buddhism believes we have been born and reborn, and have karmic ties with everyone," explained Irene Abbou, a trained couples therapist in Los Angeles. "Hinduism believes the purpose of karmic soul connections is to teach us lessons to enable higher spiritual awareness. This is done by experiencing painful relationships. Only then can we reach our highest potential and accept that one can never achieve true happiness through romantic partners."
How do you know you've met your karmic soulmate?
"It's like fireworks exploding the first time you meet them," Kumaar said. "From that very moment, resisting their presence is impossible. You make excuses to stay in their proximity. While the world feels more colorful with them at first, slowly it turns gray. It's almost as if they bring out your worst fears and insecurities and feed on them. You feel insecure, misunderstood, unvalued and not enough. Frustrating, addictive and an emotional roller coaster, these are the raging signs of a karmic relationship."
Charlie experienced these feelings when he was introduced to Rachel by her boyfriend four years ago at a coffee shop.
"The moment Rachel and I made eye contact—in a brief, shining moment—I felt like I was soul-gazing, that our history did not begin at that moment but was a continuation of our many experiences prior," recalled Charlie, 42, of Los Angeles.
Charlie's first instinct was to stay away from Rachel because their connection was so intense yet forbidden since she had a boyfriend. The two ended up having a platonic, working relationship, where Rachel acted as Charlie's dating coach until the attraction was too intense to hide.
"Hugging made us both retreat into a sensual satisfaction, excitement and comfort that rivaled pure sexual intimacy," Charlie remembered. "Physically, our skin was on fire."
A karmic soulmate is usually not your life partner
"A karmic soulmate is not the same as a life partner or a romantic soulmate," said Niki Davis-Fainbloom, M.A., a psychologist based in Brooklyn, New York, and a senior writer at the Practical Psychology website. "While a life partner or romantic soulmate can be a karmic soulmate, the latter refers specifically to a person with whom we have a deep, karmic connection and whose presence in our lives serves a higher purpose."
This was true for Charlie. And Rachel concurred that they had a potent bond, and even told her boyfriend, who encouraged her to explore their connection.
"Over time, I felt like even though I wasn't exactly cheating, the guilt of potentially harming their relationship consumed me," Charlie said. "I decided to go no contact for a while and sort out my feelings. Over a year passed until we saw each other again, at the same coffee shop where we met. We talked for about two hours. Nothing had changed, and we knew our karmic connection was still as strong as it had been."
As of today, Charlie and Rachel are not together. Charlie said he is open to letting Rachel back into his life if they are both single, emotionally available and in a healthy mental place. As for now, Charlie said he feels it's clear he can't build a life with Rachel or complete what was the most connective experience of his life.
The devastating truth about karmic soulmates
Karmic soulmates are essentially the epitome of the old expression, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
"These relationships are turbulent, melancholic and, most often, devastating," Kumaar said. "The sole motto of their presence in your life is for you to release your past karma. Despite knowing the person is ridiculously toxic, you can't get enough of them. There is a kind of magnetic connection with them, full of passion and attraction. They come to teach you a life-altering lesson and leave abruptly."
This is exactly what happened to Diana. After three intense, blissful months filled with magical, never-ending dates and enchanting phone calls, once the relationship became long distance, with Mia in New York and Diana in Los Angeles, Diana felt a shift and Mia's warmth faded.
Mia missed FaceTime dates and eventually stopped texting Diana. The shift was abrupt, shocking and out of character for Mia, to the point that even Diana's therapist suggested she check hospitals to make sure Mia was alive.
"All my friends and family were in disbelief as well," Diana revealed. "We never thought she would do something like this to me. And here I am, over a year later and she still has never reached out or explained. I saw on [Instagram] she's with a new girl now. For this woman who claims to have loved me my whole life to drop me like a hot potato? Whew. It took my soul a while to recover from that whiplash. The pain of her betraying me is something I don't wish on anyone. I cried limp as a rag doll in many loved ones' arms while getting over her."
Can you make a relationship with a karmic soulmate last?
Not every karmic soulmate relationship ends with a breakup, but most experts seem to agree your karmic soulmate is likely not your life partner.
"Karmic soulmate relationships are not immune to challenges and difficulties," Davis-Fainbloom said. "These relationships often involve intense emotional and psychological growth and can bring up unresolved issues and traumas from the past."
Hermione Sihukai was with her karmic soulmate for nine years, but when they met, she thought they'd be together forever. When she was with him, she felt as if no one could harm her, and they knew parts of each other better than anyone else. They got married and had a child, but eventually separated when she realized he didn't align with her soul.
It took her three years after her divorce to fully let go of him as a best friend, confidant and partner.
"I lost myself without giving myself a chance of knowing who I was," said Sihukai, 38, a business mentor in the United Kingdom. "It was draining to relive old experiences. It was challenging to leave when I realized I didn't want the relationship anymore."
You cannot fix or change your karmic soulmate
Since your karmic soulmate connection is potent and addictive, you might try to convince yourself you can make it work. But do karmic relationships come back?
"'I belong with them, I can change them.' These beliefs dominate a karmic relationship," Kumaar said. "Unfortunately, they are doomed to fail. Only when you cut all cords with them is when you can have a healthy relationship with the person that matters the most in your life, yourself."
This is exactly what happened to Rosie, who didn't realize she had met her karmic soulmate until the dust from their breakup settled. Once she was healed, she realized in their yearlong relationship that her ex was never afraid to show her where she needed to grow and taught her a lot about herself. While this unfiltered honesty seemed to be a big factor in their split, Rosie now looks back on her former mate with admiration and respect.
With clarity, Rosie said she discovered she had never healed from her past and brought that pain into their relationship.
"I used [it] as an excuse to act the way I did in our relationship," said Rosie, 28, of Los Angeles. "I didn't know how to deal with the hurt that I was trying to bury and it didn't show on the surface until my karmic soulmate came into my life. We fell in love fast and got deep faster, and it didn't take very long for things that I'd packaged up into a neat, little box to get messily unpackaged in our relationship."
Is the pain of a karmic experience worth the gain?
A year after their breakup, Rosie said her karmic soulmate is no longer in her life, but they do root for each other from afar. Today, Rosie said she is feeling like her best self.
"I'm a completely different person in a lot of very positive ways thanks to that relationship, and I don't think I've ever been happier or more confident in myself or my life ever," Rosie said. "Now I feel excited for [my next relationship] versus feeling desperate or in need of it. If it comes, let it. If it goes, let it."
"I don't believe you can predict or manufacture your karmic soulmate. The universe brings them to you," Charlie said. "But you can decide what to do next after you've met them."
"The healing I did after she left was magical," Diana said. "I invested so much time into caring for myself and it showed. I glowed after all the work I put into myself."
"[Karmic soulmates] bring such a valuable gift, to allow us to see where we hold ourselves back, and they highlight this for us so we can then do the work in releasing that blockage," Sihukai explained.