Do we form ‘soul ties’ with our sexual partners?

The internet is rife with sex misinformation – and our F***ing Nonsense series is here to bring you the real facts. Next up, what the hell is a soul tie?

A colorful background with red text saying F*** nonsense
A colorful background with red text saying F*** nonsense

The internet is rife with sex misinformation – and our F***ing Nonsense series is here to bring you the real facts. Next up, what the hell is a soul tie?

By Beth Ashley14 Mar 2024
2 mins read time
2 mins read time

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the last few years, you might have (unfortunately) come across the concept of soul ties. With 437.4 million views on the #soulties tag on TikTok, the idea has swiftly been gaining traction online.

Depending on where you read about soul ties, several definitions apply. Some say a soul tie is formed when an ex sexual partner has such a significant impact on you, that you feel deeply connected to them forever – even after you've broken up. Others refer to them as an inexplicably deep connection with a stranger who will teach you some kind of lesson (very ambiguous, we know). These are said to be future partners – soul ties in the making.

But the fundamental meaning of soul ties, regardless of the definition you've heard, is that two individuals share spiritual and emotional energy, and that it’s most likely to occur during intercourse. This results in the so-called ‘soul tie’.

A lot of the content on soul ties populating the internet are rife with misinformation. Many of the TikToks, for instance, revolve around advising people to be more selective about their sexual partners, claiming the body is forever impacted by sex. Which is, let’s face it, untrue.

Some even use this idea to sell products that ‘reverse the effects’ of a soul tie, such as cleansing balms, sage, and steaming devices. Others suggest prayer, abstinence, and even fasting are a way to break the bond.

It might seem kinda romantic to think about irreversible, spiritual exchanges during sex, but it's a scary concept to anyone who just wants to have some casual fun without punishment. And that’s… exactly why it exists in the first place.

The soul ties phenomenon stems from purity culture, which began as a Christian subculture in the ‘90s but has since spread throughout society, and is based on the notion that virginity is, well, everything. It relies on the idea that not having sex is deserving of respect and anyone who doesn’t make every effort to maintain their virginity for as long as possible should be subjected to severe judgement, and even scrutiny and condemnation.

Virginity is merely a social construct in the first place. There’s no physiological difference between someone who has had sex and someone who hasn’t. Telling people that virginity exists at all is misinformation that can affect people – mainly women – negatively, whether that’s sexually, culturally, psychologically and even economically.

These ideas have trickled down through sex education classes, adverts and celebrity culture (remember The Jonas Brothers wearing purity rings and Britney Spears being forced to lie about being a virgin for the press?) For centuries, people were taught to believe that to be a virgin is morally better – and in some places, still are, even if they aren’t personally religious.

The concept of soul ties was merely created to keep this obsession with virginity going, to encourage people to wait as long as possible to have sex using shame-based methods. The message purity culture wants you to take home is that sex tethers you to your partners, opening you up to spiritual chaos, so you’re better off avoiding sex until you’re in love, or married. So the very idea of soul ties is a scaremongering tactic, repackaged as a cute TikTok trend.

If you happen to have had sex before marriage, or had sex with lots of people, don’t panic. Soul ties have no scientific basis whatsoever. In fact, some people don't believe in the existence of a soul at all, but if you do: no, having sex doesn't fuse you to someone else. And as for what happens when you have sex with multiple people… that would be nothing at all. You just have sex with multiple people.

As long as you’re practising safe (and consensual) sex, then that’s all that matters – you can have sex with as many or as few people as you like. And unless there are other factors involved, you really don’t need to worry about your life being destroyed by sex or an ex-partner haunting you like a poltergeist.

Read all of the pieces in our F***ing Nonsense series here