What Is a Twin Flame (And Can Finding Yours Be Toxic)?

what is a twin flame

Whether you’re looking for the ideal partner or reading up on Greek mythology, you’ve probably come across the term “twin flame.” But what is a twin flame? Is it just another word for soul mate? Not quite. Since the idea of twin flames has both spiritual and real-life relationship implications, we asked a holistic energy healer as well as a clinical psychologist for their working understandings of the term.

What exactly is a twin flame?

Giselle Wasfie, acupuncturist, herbalist, Reiki energy healer and founder of holistic wellness practice REMIX, describes twin flames most succinctly: “The meaning of a twin flame is based upon the idea that an elevated soul spilt in two, and the twin flame is your soul’s other half, like your ‘mirror soul.’” 

But the idea of twin flames can actually go a lot deeper depending on your worldview. For example, different cultures and religions have foundational beliefs in the idea. In the Tantric Union, Shiva and Shakti represent the union of feminine and masculine energy—they are part of the same whole. In Greek mythology, the story goes that as punishment for human ego, Zeus split up the androgynous human being in two. The result? These divided humans would forever seek their other half in order to feel whole. 

What’s the difference between a soul mate and twin flame? 

Soul mates are people with whom you feel a deep bond, Wasfie tells us. In fact, you may go through life and find many soul mates—a colleague, a neighbor, a lover. “But a twin flame,” says Wasfie, “is like a reflection back of yourself, and is an even more intense pull as they are ‘your other half.’” So, finding your twin flame is finding your mirror soul—it’s not just that you two get along well, but you are essentially one.

Is a twin flame pair always one female and one male?

Again, this may depend on your interpretation and beliefs. But most writings on twin flames reference a masculine twin and a feminine twin, but this doesn’t necessarily mean twin flames are divided by sex. “[Twins] can be gay, lesbian and/or hetero and even in a hetero-sexual couple, the man can be the Divine Feminine and the woman can be the Divine Masculine—it all depends on what the higher selves scripted as necessary for their journey home. I have female clients with gay men as a Twin Flame or normally heterosexual women recognizing their twin to be a woman when they have never had feelings for another woman before,” writes Sabriyé Ayana, the woman behind the website The Twin Flame Tribe

What are the benefits of finding your twin flame? 

“Completion, wholeness, learning, growth and feeling like there is someone with whom you can totally be yourself,” Wasfie says. Other mythology or beliefs follow that together with your twin flame, the highest version of yourself can be reached.

Does everyone have a twin flame? 

According to Greek mythology, yes. According Wasfie, “Potentially. You may know you do if you truly and deeply feel like ‘the one’ is waiting for you out there.” And according to Twin Flame Matchmaker (yep, they exist!), Dr. Amanda Noelle, finding your twin flame could be as simple as hiring a “professional love priestess.” In conclusion? It’s really what you believe.

Are twin flames meant to be together? 

Romantically? Not necessarily. Per Wasfie, although there may be intense desire to be together, your twin flame will also deeply challenge you as they act as your mirror image, “They will provide lessons and elevate your soul in a strong, pivotal way. If you make it through the inevitable crisis you’re destined to experience together, the other side is a sense of completion that feels like becoming whole.” But is your marriage destined to fail if you don’t wed your twin flame? Not at all. In fact, your twin flame doesn't have to be romantic—they might wind up being a friend. 

Do you have to be extra spiritual or practice energy work to find your twin flame? 

Most spiritual healers will probably tell you something along the lines of: If you’re not open to finding your twin flame, it will never happen. Wasfie, for example, told us: “If you are meant to meet, you will encounter one another at some point in your life. But if you ‘do the work’ beforehand to prepare to meet this ultimate, intense connection, then you will become more spiritually attuned, and can recognize them by all the similarities you share, by the intense connection, and the draw to be together, among other signs.” By “do the work,” Wasfie means clearing any mental or spiritual blocks or self-limiting beliefs you may cling to that can cause your intuition to be muddled.

How do you know if you found your twin flame? Are there signs to look for? 

Wasfie says to look for things like sharing the same interests, having the same dreams at night, intuitively knowing what the person is thinking, feeling an intense physical pull to be near them (platonically or romantically), and a feeling of being deeply understood by them, among other signs. In other words, it’s kinda like, when you know, you know. 

How do twin flames apply practically to dating or relationships? 

Dr. Alexandra Solomon, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who focuses on family and marriage (and author of Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality & Create the Relationships You Want) and understands twin flames through a psychological lens: “Collectively, we are fascinated by love. We are humbled by its complexity and compelled to try to figure it out.” This is important because we humans, Dr. Solomon explains, are drawn to creating narratives that we hope can help us make sense of the tumultuous, confusing, overwhelming and vulnerable feelings. And nothing stirs up confusion and vulnerability like intimate relationships. “Love evokes tremendous anxiety inside of us,” Dr. Solomon says. “As I fall in love with you, I become anxious about the prospect of losing you. Believing that you are my twin flame may help me feel calmer in the face of that fear because I sense that something bigger than us is buoying us.” If you don’t feel the twin flame vibes, then it’s easier to let go. 

Is this a useful idea to think about twin flames when dating?

The truth? Not really. Dr. Solomon shares, “The twin flame idea can absolutely be a hindrance if you equate twin flame with perfection. Believing that you are ‘meant to be’ with this person can make conflicts, disappointments and misunderstandings all the more painful because your story is that we ‘should’ understand each other easily and completely. “You know you’re getting stuck on the idea of a twin flame when you feel again and again as if nobody quite lives up to your expectations,” warns Dr. Solomon. 

So, assigning too much power to twin flames can actually be toxic?

Yes, exactly. And it can become toxic on a couple of levels—the first being the impossible expectations Dr. Solomon warned us about above. The second is that if one believes they’ve found their twin flame, they won’t leave if the relationship becomes problematic or even abusive. As Ayana writes, “Twin Flame connections are not painful, traumatic or abusive. Please do not use the term Twin Flame to allow someone to hurt you.” There’s also the common misinterpretation of the masculine/feminine dynamic. Some who equate the masculine energy with being cis-male believe—consciously or subconsciously—they are dominant over their female counterpart. But, per Ayana, twin flames are equals, period, end of story.

What is a healthy twin flame perspective?

Even if you believe your love life is written in the stars or pre-ordained, Dr. Solomon’s advice is crucial: “You absolutely get to practice discernment when it comes to love.” Finding your twin flame doesn’t outweigh the elements of healthy intimate relationship, but it should actually elevate those tenants. “The bottom line,” Dr. Solomon expands, “is that we are imperfect humans who have no choice but to love other imperfect humans. Love is about enjoying the smooth, silly and passionate moments and approaching the stressful, sad and frustrating ones with kindness, humility and maturity.” 

So cheers to finding your twin flame, imperfect and all. 

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Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...