This season of The Bachelor was like one long yawn stretched out over 10 weeks. The bright spots included watching Bekah M. rolling up in a cherry red 1968 Mustang, watching Becca K. fall in love with Arie, and — um — that was it? Arie returned Becca's feelings, proposed to her with a massive Neil Lane rock, and then soon broke off the engagement to return to the runner-up, Lauren B. It was massively heartbreaking. So why did Arie break up with Becca when the chemistry was so obviously there from the beginning?
From the start of the season, Arie and Becca seemed like an easy, natural fit. He slung his arm around her shoulder when she lounged against him; their conversations were filled with genuine laughter; and their faces light up when they see each other, according to a body language expert. Arie rewarded her with the season's first one-on-one date, which was an elaborate, Pretty Woman-style fantasy, culminating in celebrity stylist and designer Rachel Zoe lavishing Becca with a gorgeous gown, jewelry, and pair of Christian Louboutin pumps. Later in the season, they shared a second one-on-one date in Tuscany, and Arie traveled to Becca's hometown of Prior Lake, Minnesota, to spend time with her family. When their relationship progressed to the fantasy suite in Peru, Arie incredulously told the camera that he almost wanted to propose to Becca right there in the sand dunes.
He didn't, though — he waited until the traditional moment in Bachelor courtship, during the final episode of the show. But then, after the season wrapped, he broke off his engagement with Becca to return to Lauren.
By contrast, his relationship with Lauren feels markedly less comfortable than the one he has with Becca. They don't appear to have much to say to each other; he often repeats how attractive he finds her, while she tells him she has a hard time opening up to people or expressing her feelings.
I called matchmaker Kailen Rosenberg, who serves as Oprah's Love Ambassador on Lovetown, U.S.A., is the author of Real Love, Right Now, and is the founder of The Lodge Social Club. When I bring up Arie's jump from Becca to Lauren, her cringe is audible. "Wrong move!" she exclaims. "The reason he proposed to Becca to begin with is because the physical chemistry was there on a comforting, healthy, genuine, soulful level."
Rosenberg explains that serious relationships typically fall into two categories: soulmates and lifemates. While you might think of a soulmate as the person you're destined to be with, she uses the term differently. According to Rosenberg, your soulmate is the person that makes you feel electric inside: You love each other, even when you fight; you learn from and teach other; you're intensely attracted to each other, but that attraction might not necessarily be lifelong. In other words, you're still getting your sh*t together, and that soulmate is along for the ride. As you grow up and (hopefully) evolve, you're in a healthier, more stable place to settle down for life. The person you meet at that stage is your lifemate — the person you can marry, build a life with, and grow old with. Rosenberg believes that Lauren is Arie's soulmate and that Becca is his lifemate. But ultimately, he didn't choose to stay with Becca.
"There's a wound somewhere in his past that Lauren tapped into," Rosenberg theorizes. "He believes the only way he can heal that wound is to be a savior to Lauren, so he can help her through that tough time she's having with exposing herself and trusting him. He wants to help her evolve, but he's actually helping himself out on a subconscious level."
That's not to say that Arie's making the wrong choice by going back to Lauren, or that their relationship can't work. Anything is possible when it comes to love! "It’s not that his relationship with Lauren can’t work, but it’s tough," Rosenberg says, citing that soulmate marriages often end in conflict.
Despite that, Rosenberg says, Arie made the right choice by honoring that little voice in the back of his head saying that he shouldn't stay with Becca. "Flip-flopping is your soul speaking to you and saying that the decision you’re making isn’t solid," she says. "It either isn’t right or you need more time to process it."
Regardless of whether or not you happen to be competing on a reality show to find the love of your life in an ultra-compressed timeline, it's useful to recognize the signs of a soulmate versus a lifemate.
If you're with your lifemate — the person you could spend the rest of your life with in a happy, healthy partnership — Rosenberg notes that your relationship will feel comfortable, calm, easy, energetic, inspiring, and respectful, and that your values and life goals will be in alignment. If the relationship regularly has beautiful highs followed by immediate lows filled with stress, anxiety, and confusion, those are signs that you're possibly with a short-lived soulmate instead.
"Your inner voice tells you the truth about everyone," Rosenberg says. "If it confuses you, you need to sit alone by yourself without other influences, listen to what is says, and honor it."