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Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies meet each other.” ~ Paul Coelho

Most of us have met many different soulmates in our lifetime. All of them are deeply meaningful, intensely connective and profoundly impactful on our lives.

Some soulmates stay around forever and some leave more quickly than we want them to. What some of us have a difficult time with is feeling that deep, soulful connection with another and then having to go through the process of accepting that their purpose in our lives has been served and it’s time to let them go.

Not all soulmates are made of the feel good “we fell in love the moment our eyes met and are going to love each other till the end of time” kind. There are many other types of soulmates, ones who come in solely for the purpose of teaching us something, some to break apart our life and redirect us to somewhere different and some who pass us for the briefest of moments, yet tug on our hearts as if we’ve known them a lifetime.

These are some of the soulmates I’ve encountered in mine (except the last one), all of them captivating, memorable and absolutely necessary to my soul’s growth:

1) Friendship Soulmate

Sometimes we meet a person and just click from the moment we lay eyes on each other. It’s as if we’ve known them our entire life, even if we’ve only known them a few minutes.

You tell each other everything. You could talk to this person for hours on end and never get bored. You share everything about yourself and they don’t judge you. These types of soulmates actually know you better than you know yourself, which is why they are extremely important in your life. They “get you” in ways nobody else does and help you navigate your way through all of life’s trials and triumphs.

The friendship soulmate is a gift and one you should treasure your entire life. Because they are here to stay.

2) The Wrecking Ball Soulmate

“Soulmates aren’t the ones who make you happiest, no. They’re instead the ones who make you feel the most. Burning edges and scars and stars. Old pains and pangs, captivation and beauty. Strain and shadows and worry and yearning. Sweetness and madness and dreamlike surrender. They hurl you into the abyss. They taste like hope.” ~ Victoria Erickson

This soulmate is not somebody that comes into our life peacefully. They enter in to shake things up. They challenge us and make us question everything we thought we knew about life. There is a clear “before them” and “after them” distinction when we look back on our lives and realize that we are now a completely different person than the day we met them.

This type of soulmate can come in many forms but it’s normally a romantic relationship that leaves us feeling as if we’ve been swept up like a tornado, taken for the ride of our life, and then dumped from the sky with no warning in an exhausted, tailspun heap.

Despite feeling like we don’t know what the hell happened since the ride was so fun when it first started, the beauty of this type of soulmate is that like a tornado hitting and leaving mass wreckage behind, we’re forced to rebuild from the ground up and can now make our new home (US) anything we want.

And most people rebuild something completely different and way more beautiful than what existed before.

3) The Lover/Affair Soulmate

These people don’t stay in our lives forever, but they come in as a lover and typically take on the form of a really beautiful relationship for a period of time. They might be our first love, an affair we had while being with someone else, or simply a lover who we had a no-strings-attached unconventional relationship with.

These soulmates are meant to be in our lives for a certain period of time to teach us about ourselves and other important lessons that will be poignant and meaningful down the road. Typically these types of relationships don’t start off with that “instant connection, butterflies in the stomach” feeling that we think we should feel with a potential partner, but over time it builds and the relationship turns into something serious and meaningful.

Soulmates like this often stay on good terms and become friends after their relationship ends, both realizing and acknowledging how much the other person taught them. Therefore that “soul connection” lasts a lifetime even though the romantic love portion of the dynamic fades.

4) Complete Stranger Soulmate

This is always a very brief encounter with somebody you don’t know. It might be the person you sat next to on a flight for a few hours, someone you meet and spend time with one evening at a party, or as brief as a stranger whose eyes yours meet on the street and you exchange just a few words with.

Typically the feeling is, “Oh! I recognize you!” Almost as if you’ve seen them before and are remembering them but can’t place where. If you believe in past lives, it’s typically because you are recognizing them as someone who truly is from your past.

The exchange is brief but intimate. They normally say something that you need to hear in that moment, validate something that you’ve been feeling or push you in a direction you need to go but are afraid. You know in the depths of your soul the encounter meant something even though you never see them again.

5) Divine Love Soulmate:

“You felt familiar the moment I met you. A lovely sort of déjà vu. When we spoke or laughed or danced I became overwhelmed by the powerful sensation that I had been here before. And when we kissed I felt the energies of a thousand lives on our lips, like our souls had known each other all along.” ~ Beau Taplin

This is the soulmate that every one of us desires to have. And if we’re lucky enough, we will meet them and live out the rest of our days on this earth together.

They encompass all of the above… the familiarity, the feeling of having known them for an entire lifetime moments after meeting them, the intense bond and connection that never goes away, the deep friendship, and the extraordinary, enchanted, deep-seated love.

May all of us have the good fortune of coming together with this person at some point in our lives. (I’m still waiting)!

“When you meet one of your soulmates, whether it be for five minutes, five  hours, five months, five years or a lifetime, let the connection be what it is. This way, if it stays or if it leaves, you will be softer from having been loved this authentically. Let them be who and what they are meant to be.” ~ From the website “I love my LSI”

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Originally appeared on elephantjournal.com