“Put simply, a karmic relationship could be considered a relationship that engenders a lot of really challenging growth," says women's empowerment coach and astrologer Natalia Benson. This could be encouraging you to think about how you communicate, inner child trauma, or how emotionally mature you really are.
“A karmic relationship engenders a lot of really challenging growth.” —Natalia Benson, women's empowerment coach
Before getting too ahead of ourselves, though, it’s important to note that the term “karmic” doesn’t mean your prior missteps caused you to “deserve” this relationship, says Benson. In this instance, the word functions as “an opportunity to neutralize, heal, or expand” in areas you might not realize could use improvement—which is similar, but not identical to the twin-flame relationship.
- Natalia Benson, astrologer and women’s empowerment coach
Because of the nature of karmic relationships, Benson says people usually feel exhausted when they’re in one. “It feels exhausting because the soul is committed to growth at any cost,” says Benson, adding that a karmic relationship is a type of "soul agreement" to help you grow. (A soul agreement, in spiritual speak, is a contract you made with each other in the spirit realm, before incarnating on Earth.)
Read on to learn seven signs that you might be in a karmic relationship as well as three of Benson’s tips for navigating this type of romantic connection in a healthy way.
7 signs that you might be in a karmic relationship
1. The relationship itself is often challenging
“If you are in a relationship dynamic [that] just feels like there are non-stop problems, communication seems to be an issue, or it just feels like you're not on the same page,” says Benson, "it’s almost a given that you’re in a karmic relationship."
2. You notice a lot of red flags early on
Maybe your partner has to dominate every conversation, or they’ve got a way of slyly making fun of you in front of your friends. Red flags are personal, says Benson—we all have different triggers. But if you find yourself deeply questioning or making excuses for your partner's behavior, it could indicate something more than an insignificant personality quirk.
"When you’re justifying something, you should pay attention to that," says Benson. "A lot of times we see the red flags, but we still go into the relationship, and typically that can be because there’s a lesson that can be learned." For example, the relationship could be teaching you how to speak up for yourself.
3. Your relationship reveals things about yourself you might need to heal
Whether that’s a less-than-ideal personality trait—like a high level of insecurity—or childhood trauma, you can expect a karmic relationship to bring your attention to things you might benefit from working on, says Benson. Ultimately, the point of this type of dynamic is to get you ready for a healthy relationship, whether with the same person or someone new. After all, being open to growth is one of the 12 laws of karma.
4. You don’t feel like you can be authentically yourself
“I'd actually say another sign of a karmic relationship is…you don't feel like you can be completely, authentically you,” says Benson. You might feel like you have to change something about yourself or like there's a part of you that you have to keep hidden from your karmic partner. And that’s because, Benson adds, you probably still have some growth to do.
5. You feel a heavy energy when you're together
Most karmic relationships start out as any relationship may—there's usually a honeymoon phase, where everything feels blissful and fated. But at some point, in this case, the partnership stops being fun and starts feeling like a drag, despite the fact that you still share a super-strong connection. All relationships have rough patches, obviously, but in a karmic relationship, there's a pervasive weight you'll feel in your body, Benson says. "You'll know the difference at a visceral level between something that's just a challenge and something that's karmic."
6. You've got complex emotions about the karmic relationship
Karmic relationships can come with a lot of contradictions. Even though they're tough, you can also feel magnetically drawn to the person and in love with their good qualities, making it hard to just leave. But since it's normal to not love everything about your partner, even in a healthy relationship, how can you know whether karmic roots are at play?
"When something is right for you, it truly feels good—not just the high of romance, but on a really core, visceral level, it feels solid," says Benson. These good vibes transcend, say, the irritation you feel when your plus-one chews with their mouth open.
7. You feel like you can’t get out of that relationship
According to Benson, a person’s soul incarnates to have experiences that help us grow, and relationships are really powerful in that regard, which makes the dynamic difficult to depart. However, if you find that your partner is abusive, a narcissist, or is gaslighting you, Benson urges you to never say that this is karma—and says you have to take care of yourself and figure out how to get out of that cycle. (More on that below.)
3 strategies for navigating a karmic relationship
1. Making the karmic relationship, itself, better
Because karmic relationships are about growth, you need to check in with yourself before you chat with your partner, says Benson. Some questions to ask yourself during your check-in: What do you want? Why do you want to be in that relationship? What are you willing to bring to that relationship? Sitting down and getting clear with yourself first can work wonders when it’s time to communicate with your partner.
Journaling has myriad mental health benefits and is also powerful in making your karmic relationship better because you get those thoughts out of your head and make it a reality by putting the words to the page. “Knowing who you are, where you're at with the relationship, and what you desire from the other person is extremely powerful,” Benson says.
2. Communicating open and honestly
Once you get clear on your wants and needs, it’s time to communicate them to your partner. If you’re still not feeling totally confident in approaching them, Benson suggests considering practicing in the mirror.
“Talk to yourself as if you're talking to your partner and get out the kinks, [and] maybe get out the emotions,” says Benson. “This doesn't mean when you go talk to your partner, you have to be perfect, but it can be clarifying to the relationship.”
If it’s still difficult for the two of you to communicate, finding a relationship therapist or coach can be helpful. However, since not all people have access to these resources, Benson says you might also talk to an unbiased friend and get their advice. An important caveat: This only works if both parties communicate openly and honestly, so if your partner isn’t interested in working things out, it might be time for the relationship to end.
3. Ending a karmic relationship
When you know, you know. And this is also true of having to end a karmic relationship. If the relationship is getting too exhausting or borders on abusive, it’s absolutely time to get yourself out of that situation, says Benson. Of course, that’s way easier said than done. To get to the “done” part, then, Benson encourages folks to internalize the signs that this relationship should end and, from there, getting help.
“There's so many different ways to get help and to find the help that works for you, both emotionally and financially,” says Benson. You could go to a therapist to seek guidance for ending things or, if that’s out of your budget, you could also talk to a friend and get their help. Whatever route you choose, you’ll be alright as long as you trust your intuition.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-899-7323 or thehotline.org.
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