You love them. You hate them. Your heart burns, and your gut churns in their proximity.
Welcome to the world of karmic relationships.
One second, you’re laughing, the next, you’re screaming at each other.
One minute, you embrace, the next, you swear you could kill them.
And yet, despite the ups and downs, you always seem to get pulled back into the sticky honey-like spider web of your relationship with them.
We all experience at least one karmic relationship in life – it’s part of our spiritual calling.
But the question is, how do we know if a certain spiritual relationship is karmic? What’s the purpose of karmic relationships? And is it healthy to stay in one or not?
Table of contents
What is a Karmic Relationship?
Tracing its origins back to ancient Eastern philosophy, a karmic relationship describes a connection between two people that has rekindled in this life from a previous incarnation (i.e., past life).
For whatever reason, the relationship we had in that past incarnation carries “unfinished business” and unresolved issues. Thus, in this lifetime, we’re tasked with clearing that karma for the enrichment and evolution of the Soul.
Another way of putting it is that karmic relationships are bonds created between the Souls of individuals who, before being born into this world, agreed to work their shit out. (Also known as creating a ‘Soul Contract.’)
Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, karmic relationships (at the very least) can be seen as opportunities to learn major life lessons.
And no, karmic relationships don’t just occur between lovers, they’re also found among friends, family members, children, and even colleagues!
Soul Mate Relationships = Karmic Relationships?
You might be wondering at this point whether soul mate relationships are karmic relationships.
My answer is that sometimes they are, but usually they’re not.
Soul mates are people in our lives whom we connect with on a deep level.
A soul mate connection feels gentle yet fierce, deep but easy. (As such, it’s unlikely to be karmic.)
It’s common to confuse karmic relationships with soul mate connections. Sometimes, the two go hand-in-hand. Yet, overall, a soul mate relationship is designed to help us more than harm us.
Again, there’s a fine line between help and harm. Sometimes, for instance, something that harms us can eventually help us, and vice versa.
But generally, it’s easy to tell the difference between soul mate and karmic relationships.
A karmic relationship smells like musky tobacco while a soul mate relationship smells like roses and jasmine or frankincense and myrrh.
So, when it comes to distinguishing between these relationships, it’s helpful to remember that there’s a difference between a karmic lesson and a karmic relationship.
If your relationship is like a non-stop rollercoaster, it’s probably karmic. But if you have arguments and dramas from time to time (what relationship doesn’t?), it’s probably a karmic lesson you’re in the process of learning.
Spiritual Awakening and Karmic Relationships
There is a large glimmering red ruby hidden at the core of karmic relationships. The treasure to be found must be earned, and it can take time, patience, and tremendous humility.
The gift I’m talking about is spiritual evolution (involution) and soulful maturation.
Karmic relationships are the doorway to deeper growth, expansion, and freedom. As irritating and upsetting as they are, they’re an opportunity to return to the Truth of Who We Are.
But this chance to awaken doesn’t come easily. Who said it would?
The nature of life is that there must be friction to grow. A baby chick must peck its way out of the shell. A seedling must push out of the earth. A newborn is squeezed and screamed out of the womb.
We, too, must go through this process of tension and release, death and rebirth.
And yet, despite the blood, sweat, and tears, we eventually realize that our pain never diminished our essence, it forged it. Our egos may be shattered, but our souls can never be touched.
Perhaps that is the biggest spiritual lesson of karmic relationships: they open us to the power of Love through the gateway of letting go.
They remind us of who we truly are.
Read more: Spiritual Awakening: 23 Major Signs and Symptoms »
19 Signs + STAGES You’re in a Karmic Relationship
We’ve all seen karmic relationships play out in literature and mythology before.
Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Catherine and Heathcliff – all of these karmic stories teach us something.
But it can be hard to know whether we’re in a karmic relationship or not. And if so, what to do next.
Here are some helpful signs to look out for written primarily for those in karmic romantic relationships. (But please note that not all karmic relationships are romantic.):
1. Irresistibly drawn to them
The moment you met, you both had an instant connection. It was as if you were magnetized to each other. It all felt so mysterious and predestined. You either hated or loved them at first – there was no middle ground.
2. They’re addictive
As you got to know them, you fell further down the rabbit hole. Something about them was intoxicating – like an addictive mixture of chocolate, wine, and heroin. You just can’t get enough of them. Staying away feels like going through drug withdrawal!
3. Experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions
The more time you spend around them, the more your emotional life is sent into a tailspin. You swing between love, hate, lust, disgust, laughter, and rage. The highs are very high, and the lows are very low.
4. Constant drama
As your emotions bounce up and down, so does the relationship. You both seem to attract or create drama and play unconscious games with each other.
5. Something feels ‘off’
Your gut instincts begin to kick in and a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, or dread sits in the pit of your stomach. Deep down, you can’t shake away the feeling that something is terribly off in your relationship. You try to ignore this feeling, dismissing it as paranoia or silliness.
6. You don’t feel safe
Being authentically vulnerable with them feels scary, genuinely. Can they be trusted with your precious heart? In truth, you don’t know if you can really trust them due to their track record.
When you do open up, they can’t hold space for you. They’re either too wound up in their own problems or they flat-out reject you. In the end, you don’t feel safe enough to be your full self around them.
7. The sex is amazing
Sexually, you have a hot, intense, and wild connection. You’ve never experienced such amazing sex in your life. And yet afterward, something feels lacking. The connection is deliciously carnal but also addictive as it keeps you stuck in the same old place.
8. Repetitive cycles and patterns
The same negative patterns keep popping up no matter how much you think you’ve “worked through” them together. Either they are not holding up their side of the relationship, or you aren’t.
For instance, if one of you has had an affair, chances are that it has happened multiple times, and will continue. Even small irritations keep emerging in increasingly provocative and infuriating ways.
9. Communication issues
Let’s face it, the two of you aren’t the best communicators. There are a lot of unspoken assumptions, prejudice, judgment, and skipping to conclusions quickly. When you’ve tried to communicate openly, it just hasn’t worked the way you intended, no matter how much you try.
10. Anger and rage
At any given time, the two of you are like matches just waiting to be lit. One of you will tend to bottle up that anger (which turns into rage), and the other tends to explode whenever irritations occur. You both have a special way of pushing each other’s buttons.
11. They bring out the worst in you
Your shadow selves (i.e., dark side) relish dancing with each other, and you’re often shocked by their behavior and your own. Sometimes you’re left wondering, “Who am I/who are they really?” Despite the fact that they bring out the worst in you, you can’t imagine life without them. You just don’t want to let go.
12. Energy drain and exhaustion
Being in this relationship is tiring. You feel mentally and emotionally drained around them, but chances are that you blame yourself for these feelings.
The truth is that if you feel perpetually exhausted, the process of letting go has already been initiated. The relationship just isn’t destined to last, and you’ll eventually feel compelled to leave.
13. Your morals and values are tested
You tolerate behavior from them that you would never stand for in another person. Perhaps you enable one of their addictions, or you adopt shady ethics. Whatever the case, your character is being tested.
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What are you willing to put up with? Where do you draw the line? At what point do you say no?
14. Self-sabotage and self-destructiveness
Strangely, it’s as if you’re both drawn to try and sabotage each other’s happiness. It might be a sarcastic, off-handed comment or a full-blown act of malice.
The result is that you often feel like competitors, not a supportive team. There is an underlying darkness to your connection, and one (or both) of you tend to become more self-destructive.
15. One-sided codependency
Deep down, you feel that your happiness depends solely on their happiness. Whatever they say, think, or feel about you is immediately taken as the gospel truth. While you give-give-give, they take-take-take (or vice versa). And ultimately, your entire sense of self-worth is based on the way they behave.
16. Things begin to stagnate
At some point, you feel stuck. Your relationship feels like it’s stranded in a thick pit of tar. You try to take two steps forward but are drawn ten steps back. Anger, bitterness, anxiety, and depression soon follow. You are terrified of leaving this relationship, but it feels dead. You don’t know what to do.
17. Intense desire for answers
Fragile, exhausted, and disconnected, you begin searching for answers. Why does this relationship bring you so much pain? How can you resolve your issues together?
As you begin soul searching, you start evolving. You begin drawing back a sense of self-sovereignty. In many ways, you’re starting to evolve to the next level, yet this means you need to leave them behind. A split between the desire to stay and the desire builds within you.
Read more: Soul Searching: 7 Ways to Uncover Your True Path »
18. Struggle to let go
In all truth, you know that this relationship is unhealthy for you. Yet you can’t release the idea that you’re “destined to be together forever.” And besides, going out on your own feels frightening and overwhelming.
You may decide to leave, but again, you’re drawn back to them! The seductive and toxic cycle continues.
While some people can “cut the cord” and end the soul contract, others keep repeating the holding-on-letting-go cycle many times before emotional liberation.
19. Reconnecting with love and letting go
Eventually, the lessons have been learned. The karma has been cleared. Through the power of love, forgiveness, and a solid dose of boundary-setting, you are able to surrender and let go of your karmic relationship. This process might happen in your lifetime or in a future one, depending on how much inner work occurs.
Should You Stay?
My response is that it depends.
Firstly, is it a karmic relationship, or is it some other kind of relationship with karmic lessons?
As I wrote previously in this article, if your relationship is like a non-stop rollercoaster, it’s probably karmic.
But if you have arguments and dramas from time to time (what relationship doesn’t?), it’s probably a karmic lesson you’re in the process of learning.
Secondly, nothing is black and white. Not all karmic relationships are destined to end – but most are.
Is the other person doing the work? Are they committed to growth and change? If so, cautiously proceed. It might be worth staying.
If the other person isn’t growing or evolving or committed to change, it’s better to end that relationship.
How to Let Go of a Karmic Relationship
Here’s some guidance:
- Reach out to others for mental, emotional, and spiritual support – we are biologically programmed to seek comfort in the presence of others, so try to call in (or build) a support network
- Decide how you will say goodbye – what’s the healthiest and swiftest way of bidding them farewell?
- Practice self-love and forgiveness – this will enable you to love and forgive them
- Be thankful and resolute – reflect on what you’re grateful for learning and be solid in your conviction to leave
- Listen to some healing meditations for spiritual nourishment
- Some guided breathwork might help you to release the ‘karmic cords’ that connect the two of you
- Actively practice letting go and letting be
- Do some deep listening and let yourself feel your feelings
- Begin to build the foundation of your new life
And remember to be gentle with yourself and be proud of how far you’ve come!
Karmic relationships can happen between us and partners, parents, children, friends, or anyone, in fact, who is part of our life.
These relationships offer tremendous illumination and the opportunity for spiritual evolution. But growing the Soul is often an arduous and perilous adventure.
And yet, like many things in life, karmic relationships are both tragic and beautiful pointers to our True Essence that flourishes through the power of love.
I hope this guidance has helped you. Please feel welcome to share how your karmic relationship has ultimately enriched your life.