Those who have read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë will know that there are people whom you love and then there are people whom you love. They have no trouble understanding what a soulmate is and what a life partner is. You love them equally, but somehow you just know whom you click with on a sublime level. To those confused, keep this handy guide close in case you suspect your soulmate lurking around the corner.
Difference Between Soulmate and Life Partner
A soulmate would click with you so well that you won't even remember the first time you met them, because there were fireworks between you, not mere sparks. The spark with the life partner will slowly kindle into a fire if you give yourself room to do so. A sense of déjà vu pervades every passionate moment spent with your soulmate, but the life partner is reserved for constant, steady exploration.
Definition of the Relationship
Your soulmate could be anyone. Mom, friend, brother, aunt, or random stranger. It will be someone or anyone who 'gets' you. Your relationship with them could be, but does not have to be of a romantic nature, because they are not concerned with that at all. If there is a connection on the spiritual level, all else is left behind, and you just enjoy the time spent together.
Your life partner, on the other hand, will be someone you spend your life in a romantically linked relationship. There is a physical component to the relationship, and your life partner can be only one at a time, whereas soulmates could be simultaneously present at the same time, and more than one can exist.
The mental storm your soulmate will possibly bring will leave you drained, yet your heart will ask for more. As your life goes upside down, you will realize that your hair is metaphorically unkempt, but you just want to keep questioning yourself and everything around you until you find the answers, because your soulmate taught you that life is unpredictable and it will toss you around.
The life partner will be a more supportive version of this soulmate, who will try to calm the stormy seas in your mind and make them stable and sunny. There will be no turmoil when dealing with your partner, because you will revel in who you are. You need to do so in order to be with someone for so long. And they will love you for it, and you, them.
The relationship with the soulmate is pursued so much in the present, that neither of you will ever care about the future. That does not mean you are fickle. It just means that it consumes everything within it, including the future. The focus is more on self-exploration in chaos, and not on societal conformity. You may or may not marry your soulmate. You may never even see them again.
Your life partner will be the epitome of stability. You will plan babies for the future, all because you are eager to go through things together, not merely teach each other survival tactics and total annihilation. The life partner is for those who want normal. There will be a big attempt from both sides to work together for a long time, in order to get through life together as each other's support system.
A lot of people would agree that the reason a soulmate comes to you is to be so like you that (s)he acts as a mirror to teach you your flaws. The soulmate will show you yourself at your darkest times and shout, scream, and claw at you to see yourself because they reflect you. They will make you feel more open than you have ever felt and you will transcend your own awareness of yourself.
Your life partner will be insistent that they go through with you, and accept and support you constantly, without questioning, or maybe by politely pointing out your flaws. Whether you want to change will be up to you, but your life partner did not come to specifically teach. (S)he just came to live out your trials with you as your companion and friend. You will have the benefits of mutual understanding and respect that encourages you to live life to the best of your abilities.
A life partner would possibly take a milder viewpoint and try their best to protect you from the harm the world or you might do to yourself. They learn to respect your boundaries and to adjust, and you try to do the same with them. There is a selfish motive in the life partner, for if he does not protect you, (s)he loses you and cannot have you beside them on their respective journey of life. The soulmate would not greatly fear losing you.
The soulmate's impact will change you with the experience, and not accept you for yourself, because they believe in a better version of you. The life partner will already believe he has found the best version of you that you can become, and the emphasis of this relationship is to not change, or to change as little as possible.
Resonation of Values
Values are our internal thought systems with regard to the practical human world. Since the life partner is the one who will accompany you in your journey, it will be your life partner with whom your habits, values, morals and outlook towards life will need to match.
The soulmate need not bother to have the same values, since it is the conflict (s)he provides that is essential for your cultivation, because it is your very values, thought systems and personality the soulmate will choose to change for the better. You cannot live all your life with someone who clashes with you constantly.
You can't choose soulmates but you can choose to walk away from them. This is because there are such intimate understandings at the spiritual level, that once they have accomplished what they were destined to do, they can leave you, and so can you. The love and connection will still exist, but beyond a point, you may start hating them for making you love them. This is not true for all soulmates. The destiny to meet is present, but the choice is whether to leave or not.
Due to the superior stability, one might not wish to leave a life partner, even if it is just for practical reasons. Of course, there is a choice for you whether you want to select this life partner in the first place, but when certain things get adjusted or click later on in your relationship, you can see for yourself that though leaving is a choice, it is only at the material level you might choose to stay.
They can be the Same Person
Despite every distinction there may be between a soulmate and a life partner, sometimes they can be the same person for those lucky few. That isn't to say they will throw you in turmoil, but you know that the passion, compassion, love, fireworks, respect and exploration is all present in the same person in balanced amounts. They will be able to bring about a better you without throwing you into internal conflict. Here, your life partner is your soulmate.
You know that there is no given formula that tells you what to do in life. There is no rule whether you should live with a soulmate, life partner, both, or none, because it all depends on your ability to recognize a person for what they are, and your willingness to reciprocate what is given to you. There is no way to say how you will react if you do run into someone you recognize as a partner or mate. Just be careful to take care of yourself in the process, and not be absorbed by the search. It will come to you when it does.