with additions by MJ Kelly and Flavia Medrut

Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt instantly drawn to them or like you’ve known this person before? Did you click right off the bat and immediately establish an intense connection?

Have you been seeing the number 11:11 sequence at every turn?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may be experiencing a twin flame relationship.

But, what is a twin flame, anyway?

Simply put, your twin flame is your mirror.

It seems that once you’ve reached a certain level of consciousness in life, your soul splits in two, before settling into your physical self.

Basically, this means that two of you are wandering planet Earth. The other you is your twin flame and when you cross paths, you immediately feel as if you’re whole again.

As your mirror, they reflect back to you your weaknesses but also your greatest strengths. Essentially, their presence usually brings on a lot of personal growth and transformation.

The twin flame meaning can only be understood after entering the doors of spiritual awakening. There is a place where relationships and personal (and spiritual) growth collide. It is a place where all of you exists, unmasked and exposed, and it craves connection like a caterpillar seeking out the perfect branch to build a cocoon.

But this caterpillar doesn’t hope to hide from the exposure. It’s designed to shed its skin — and everything inessential with it — to become something new. Something without the trappings of distortion, lies, misconception, ego, and ignorance that can fly more freely and peacefully.

Relationships can offer incredible, radical personal growth as powerful as any spiritual practice. And there’s no better example of this than in a twin flame relationship.

A twin flame relationship is when two people are perfect matches as a result of shared pain or another difficulty. The important part is in the dynamic between the two people, though, and it’s where the difference between a twin flame and a life partner (or soulmate) really exists.

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life? They are there to strengthen each other and to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.

– George Eliot

Here are 3 subtle differences between a twin flame and a life partner.

1. A twin flame relationship isn’t about love – life partners are based on it

These 5 Things Are What Keep Couples Connected and Strong

A life partner is someone you have true love for. You know you’ve found your life partner when you’ve identified a real, unconditional love for another and they have expressed (and showed) it towards you. It’s all about love.

But a twin flame isn’t about love — it’s about truth. Twin flames can often cause radical personal awakenings for one another because they can see straight through to one another.

They’re a perfect match, most specifically with regards to the internal challenges they face, so meeting one another head-on is like being able to face yourself and work through your internal issues.

According to Dr. Lisa Vallejos:

The real purpose of Twin Flame is not about great sex, emotional highs and an epic love story — it’s to wake you up, shake you up and call you higher. It is a gift presented by the Divine — one you can only grasp fully when you’ve released all the smaller things you’ve been clinging to for so long that no longer serve you.

In this way, while a life partner is about cultivating a deep connection through love, a twin flame is about cultivating a deep connection through shared pain, understanding, and the growth that comes from that. It’s really about cutting away the layers of noise to get to the truth of your life and all things as a whole.

For that reason…

2. Your twin flame is supposed to cause you pain – a life partner isn’t (but probably will)

Relationships are tough. That’s just the way it is.

Even two people who are made for one another, life partners through-and-through, often cause each other quite a bit of pain along the journey of their relationship. It’s inevitable when two people seek to come together in such an intimate fashion that conflict would arise.

However, a twin flame is, to some degree, supposed to cause us pain. Without any pain inflicted, we’re probably not going through any real transformation.

It’s in the very definition of intense personal growth that one must experience great pain to realize a great transformation. The pain experienced in a typical relationship with a life partner can and often does help us grow, but it’s more about learning to work together between one another and live with one another.

Whereas with the twin flame, it’s about unearthing dirt from one another so that it can be cleansed — but it hurts like hell to raise that dirt before the cleansing.

3. A life partner is someone you want to spend your life with, a twin flame is someone you want to get away from