Let’s get some basic terminology down:
A soul mate is a person who is aligned to your soul and can change or influence your soul in some way or another. After that lesson has happened, separation usually happens.
A life partner is a friend or companion who you can lean on and are secure in. You can trust them through life. Feelings of love and respect are mutual and you’re both in sync with the needs and wants of the other person.
How do these differences manifest?
In soul mates, there is a deep, spiritual connection. It feels like you’ve known them for a long time. In a life partnership, you’re attracted to one another and their values resonate with you.
Soul mates often have deja vu type moments, where in a life partnership, you simply enjoy each other, your differences and similarities alike.
Soul mates are able to get in the mind of their partner and understand what they’re thinking. Life partners are less psychic and more along the lines of best friends.
Soul mates often realize that their relationship may not last forever, or even for very long, but they know that the love is there and they are comfortable with the impermanence. Life partners often want to cement their relationship by beginning a family or getting married in an attempt to make it more permanent.