Laymates, Playmates and Soulmates

"You can't make your laymate/playmate your soulmate" - Aunt Jackie

“You can’t make your playmate your soulmate” – Aunt Jackie

I’ve known my share of ups and downs in relationships. Over the years, I’ve spent many a waking hour trying to dissect what went right and what went very wrong. I’ve also engaged in exhaustive conversations with girlfriends and guy friends about the growing pains of finding, loving, and leaving Mr and Mrs. Wrong. Throughout the conversations, one trend was quite evident – it’s difficult to recognize the role someone’s playing in your life until far too late. We usually meet someone, date for a brief or extended period of time (which could include marriage), and then after the relationship has run its proverbial course, we reflect on it to discover the warnings we discarded and the fatal flaws we dismissed.

More recently, I’ve pondered this dilemma and decided to take a more proactive approach. Instead of defining someone’s role AFTER the damage has been done, let’s better examine the possible categories and decide if we even want/need that role filled in our lives in the first place. Based on a snapshot of the dating world, here are the three categories I’ve seen as the most prevalent. To note, a person can be one of the three to you today and something completely different to someone else in the future. Once a laymate, not always a laymate!


With this type of person, there are no boundaries and no complicated rules. They fulfill a basic human need, similar to those at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. In business, this person would have a high ROI (return on investment) as they have low cost, require minimal effort/maintenance, and offer a consistent payout. Sometimes we wrongly get comfortable with Laymates and allow the physical satisfaction they offer to steer us in an unproductive direction. If you allow them, Laymates will lay around your life long after a respectable expiration date. Don’t be someone that tries to elevate the Laymate to a higher position solely based on the payout only to be disappointed and confused in the end.  Laymates were once notorious for lying, tending to opt for omissions of the truth. However, in recent years, Laymates of both sexes have become comfortable stating their intentions at the beginning. They will define you as a casual date and state their ideal scenario as having “no strings or expectations.” If they can treat you of little value, they will, but they’ll commit to someone for which they are better aligned and once they believe it’s “time” for them to stop laying around. Laymates aren’t horrible people and if we did more soul searching we would recognize them and put them in the proverbial box best suited for their role in our lives. However, when we define them too late, we are more likely to be left feeling used, depleted, and frustrated.


It’s easy to get comfortable with this person because there is a superficial rightness about them. The resume’ checks out, you have similar interests, went to the same school, and have several mutual friends. They provide the physical needs from the Laymate, you go out publicly without hesitation, and they’ve met most of your friends and family so one is easily convinced the Play(Date)mate is the best of both worlds. However, this thinking has created far too many broken hearts and hollow commitments. In the hierarchy, Play(Date)mates would be the next level up as they appear to provide degrees of safety, stability, and a sense of belonging. You’ll find yourself saying those magical 3 words (I love you) even when actions contradict the sentiment. That’s largely because it’s comfortable and familiar. We typically end up in “situationships” with this category of individuals. They aren’t able to offer any long term potential in our lives but we struggle for reasons of why they should be removed. Because of the external appeal of the Play(Date)mate, and don’t forget people’s constant input that ‘you two make a great couple’, we try to elevate this person to a position only reserved for the deserving. Their Playmate nature will be a misuse of your heart while their  Datemate tendencies are a misuse of your time. While dating a Play(Date)mate, you’ll feel confused, frustrated, and usually stressed out over the possibilities or potential. You’ll find yourself constantly trying to fix something because again – there is a superficial rightness about this connection.


This person doesn’t just accept you but enhances you. Soulmates support, stabilize, and strengthen. They come with purpose that far exceeds the physical and transcends the emotional. These connections are rooted in respect, consideration, trust, and friendship. Love is born out of those aspects and this partner doesn’t rush to love. A soulmate appreciates your vulnerability for the gift it is and doesn’t ask you to become anything or anyone other than who you are destined to be. Soulmates are willing to sacrifice and fight for you even when it means revealing their heart. I’m not saying soulmates don’t have their own complexity and confusion but it tends to be selfless. They remind us that love, by definition, isn’t supposed to hurt. When connecting with this person, you are more likely to achieve your BEST self. They are willing to be a mirror, revealing your flaws but only in an effort to help you evolve. They are loyal to your vision and your purpose. Soulmates recognize something deeper and greater in the other person and they would never want to harm or diminish it.

So tell me, are you dating a laymate, playmate, or your soulmate? How did you recognize the difference? Post your comments!


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