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False Soulmate

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"'Follow your heart.' Ha! – Sometimes the heart sends confusing messages. Contemplation, counseling, friends, and readings can help us sort our true convictions from the false ones, though we flat-out disagree with the advice sometimes. Yet even THAT may tell us a lot. We usually need help sorting it out. But there's always a lesson!"
Mary Rose, Beware the False Soulmate (California Psychics Blog)

A False Soulmate is a person who someone has a deep romantic love for, but the relationship is for some reason not meant to be, perhaps because of the love interest not sharing the same feelings, incompatibility, or misjudgment of character. Alternatively, the relationship ends up being a failure or catastrophe because the love interest's personality or behavior has changed in a negative way (e.g. the love interest may be unfaithful, a user, a criminal, mentally unstable, or a drug-addict). This may stem from Puppy Love, or personality traits that the love interest either had or had more of when they were younger. The Serial Romeo is particularly prone to encountering this.

This often overlaps with Romantic False Lead. Compare Love Cannot Overcome, Loving a Shadow, Starcrossed Lovers, Unlucky Childhood Friend and Wrong Guy First (if the character meets their false soulmate before their true soulmate). Compare and contrast with One True Love. If the audience thinks a love interest unintentionally comes off this way, it's likely a case of Designated Love Interest or Strangled by the Red String.

Due to the nature of this trope, there may be unmarked spoilers below.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Exaggerated in The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You. The first chapter establishes that Rentarou confessed to 100 girls by the time he graduated middle school (the first time being when he was 8 months old), and every single one of them rejected him. It's only after his 100th rejection that he learns of his titular destiny.
  • Domestic Girlfriend: After something serious and public happens between Natsuo and Hina, their parents wonder if they are destined to be together, and they made unnecessary trouble when they stopped them from dating because they're step-siblings. Hina's sister, Rui, overhears and begins to get very depressed that Natsuo and Hina might be meant for each other, since Rui and Natsuo are dating. When she tells Natsuo what she's worried about, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he doesn't feel that way about Hina any more.
  • Parasyte: Kana has an unexplained power to locate people infected by parasytes, and the first person she meets with one happens to not only not be corrupted but be introduced to her by his defending someone from bullying. She believes her power to be an innate connection to Shinichi as her soulmate, her Knight in Shining Armor. Her misguided belief is furthered by her being the first person he opens up about The Masquerade to, and his girlfriend can neither sense nor understand The Masquerade. But he explicitly, repeatedly tells her that her power is not a connection specific to him, but to a certain type of dangerous person, and for her own sake, she should flee if she feels it. But then again, he's also a Master of the Mixed Message, by at times being closer and more open to her than he is to his girlfriend, and skipping a date that she overheard him planning in order to meet her. Except because of their arranging to meet, she picks up on a similar signal to his, and meets a parasyte that gives her a fatal wound just as he shows up, dying in his arms.
  • Sacrificial Princess & the King of Beasts: Sariphi for Ilya. They met when they were children, when Ilya's master was visiting the village and Sariphi offered him an ointment for his bruises caused by his Training from Hell. After this, they looked forward to see each other, which happened usually once a year. When he learns that Sariphi had been taken as a sacrifice to the land of the beasts, Ilya doesn't rest until he sneaks into the palace, getting immediately arrested and discovering that Sariphi is fine and has become the king's fiancée. Thinking that the beasts had somehow brainwashed her, he escapes and kidnaps her, refusing to listen to Sariphi's protests. When Leonhart comes after the two, Ilya fights him, determined to show Sariphi how vile the king of beasts was; much for his disappointment, Leo refuses to fight dirty, going as far as allowing Ilya to hurt him, for the young man's frustration. It is only when he sees Sariphi cry and run to Leo's side that Ilya realizes that he's trying to save Sariphi to make it up for his little sister (whom looked like her), whom was devoured by beast bandits in front of him when he was a kid. Leonhart forgives him and Ilya leaves Sariphi and the land of beasts for good, embittered.
  • Most of the first chapter/episode of Yona of the Dawn emphasizes Yona's huge childhood crush on Su-won; even Hak comments that they're perfectly matched for each other. However, Su-won ends up murdering Yona's father and chasing her and Hak from the castle. As such, Yona's idealized image of Su-won shatters and it takes her a while to recover from the heartbreak. As the manga goes on, she slowly and unconsciously falls for Hak, only realizing it until after she's already in love with him.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: The series, being that it originated with a teenage hero, has a problem in that the constant running melodrama that Marvel likes spinning since their adoption of "the illusion of change" corporate mandate makes it difficult for any girl to be Spider-Man's soulmate for long, at least on the part of editors and executives if not necessarily writers and fans:
    • Gwen Stacy was Peter's first real relationship, the first girl he fell in love with, and both Lee and Romita Sr. thought initially that she and Peter would be the Official Couple. But readers never liked the relationship since they her as a bland character and didn't care for the fact that she liked Peter but hated Spider-Man, wrongfully blaming him for her father's death. Even Stan Lee admitted that he saw Gwen as uninteresting. The writer Gerry Conway saw Gwen as a false soulmate but felt it would be interesting to add drama for her to die in a famous storyline that in his view allowed him to satisfy both groups. Gwen fans could see her as Peter's The while those who didn't care for her could happily start rooting for Peter to get with his real soulmate, Mary Jane Watson.
    • Mary Jane Watson is a zig-zagged example. Originally, she was established as a Blind Date Peter's Aunt May had set up with her nephew, who largely avoided her because he didn't like the idea of being such a loser that he needed his aunt to be his wingman. After early hints that Peter was making a mistake skipping on her (namely that Liz and Betty run into her and their thought bubbles confirm she is incredibly pretty), many thought that she was set up as the Last Girl Wins (in a time when Marvel Comics hadn't adopted Comic-Book Time and early readers believed that the story would eventually have an ending) which was buoyed after her iconic appearance. Gerry Conway, who had read the comics since the beginning and who like all readers saw MJ as fitting, set them up as a couple, and he repeatedly stated that MJ and Peter were made for each other. But a perfect relationship had the problem of potentially leading the story to an end, so Marvel has tried to push back even if in practical terms, she is Spider-Man's most common, recurring, iconic love interest and Peter and Mary Jane are the most important relationship the pair ever had.

    Fan Works 
  • Arrow: Rebirth:
    • Oliver starts to suspect that Felicity might be this after realizing that he still loves Laurel. But learning that Felicity intended to secure their relationship by getting rid of Laurel convinces him that he made a massive mistake by marrying her.
    • Quentin also realizes that he and Dinah fall into this after learning that, in the previous timeline, she refused to return to Starling even after Sara came back, making him realize she'd never really wanted to reunite their family at all. This convinces him to finally move on.
  • I Thought I Wanted This: Adora assumed that she and Catra were meant to be together due to a vision given to her by the Heart. Over time, however, she realizes that their relationship is deeply destructive and unhealthy for both of them.
  • Inside Man has Buffy realize that she really doesn't know what kind of person Angel is.
  • Shattered Reflection combines this with Alternate Timelines. In one timeline, Lucina convinced Chrom to marry Arianne rather than Rose, a decision that left him trapped in an ultimately loveless marriage, still pining after Rose. Another timeline's Chrom notes that while he does feel attracted to Arianne, he also feels like meeting her was ultimately a bad thing.
  • In Splint, Ingrid ended up being this for Cadoc. They were married and had a son together, but while Cadoc loved her, he tended to put his duty to Gondor first and spent a lot of time away from home. Ingrid eventually got sick of this and her love for Cadoc faded; not even a year after their divorce, she remarried to Baladnor, whom she seems much happier with, while Cadoc eventually finds love again with Rukhash, who appears to understand him on a more fundamental level than Ingrid did.
  • What It Takes: Felicity Smoak to Oliver Queen. At the start of the story, they're vacationing in Bali and seemingly happier than ever. However, their relationship hits a rough patch after Oliver starts getting homesick, and when he asks her about returning to Starling, she's extremely hostile to the idea, causing an argument. Their relationship gradually deteriorates from that point on with Felicity's continuous refusal to go back and visit their loved ones. And then they're visited by Athena and attacked by H.I.V.E., whereupon he learns that she's been deliberately isolating him from his loved ones, who are in a major crisis and have been all but begging him to come back and help. Oliver immediately calls her out on her actions, but her refusal to accept any blame or to go back and help them with him effectively destroys their relationship and any hope of them getting back together after. Not long after, Oliver returns to Starling and eventually gets back together with Laurel Lance while they're still on the run, and is much happier.

    Films — Animation 
  • Corpse Bride:
  • In Frozen, Anna is convinced Hans is her true love, as she's immediately attracted to him and they appear to have a lot in common, but she's actually rushing into the relationship because she's desperate to be loved by someone and doesn't really know much about him; she agrees to marry him the same day they met without really thinking it through. When others point out why it's a bad idea, however, she insists it's true love. By the third act, Anna seems to be having some doubts about whether Hans is really her true love, but she still goes to him for a true love's kiss when she's cursed. It then turns out that he's a manipulative and calculating sociopath who faked his romance just to gain the throne, taking advantage of her desire to be loved.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: Derek to Susan. He is a vain weatherman who is more interested in furthering his career than in his fiancée's needs, and after Susan spends the first half trying to win her freedom and return to him, he rejects her because he isn't interested in having a wife who overshadows him, in more ways than one.
  • Shrek: Played straight when Princess Fiona believes Shrek is her true love because he rescued her. Cue hysterical laughter from Donkey and Shrek. Shrek solely rescued her for Lord Farquaad so he could get his swamp back. Subverted when Shrek really is her True Love, as evidenced when they kiss and she turns into an ogre.
  • Strange Magic: Roland for Marianne. They're supposed to be getting married at the start, but it's obvious that Roland doesn't much care for Marianne as a person; he's mostly interested in her because she's the crown princess. Marianne then catches him cheating on her before the ceremony and wants nothing more to do with him. She later admits she was taken in by his charms and good looks, and didn't really know him. And then it turns out her true love is the Bog King; this is exemplified in the ending where Roland's attempt to use a love potion on Marianne fails, because her genuine love for the Bog King makes her immune.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In (500) Days of Summer, protagonist Tom convinces himself that the titular Summer is his one true love, but she just doesn't feel the same way. Of note that Summer is not made out to be a bad person for this, but it is Tom who actually has to reflect on his own Dogged Nice Guy tendencies.
  • In Bride Wars, Emma's fiance Fletcher turns out to be her false soulmate. They've been together for at least a decade and are initially happy to be getting married after Fletcher proposes, but the stress of wedding planning, Emma's increasingly hostile rivalry with her best friend Liv, and the previously shy and unassertive Emma becoming more outspoken and impulsive all puts a lot of strain on their relationship. After things reach a head at Emma and Liv's wedding ceremonies, Emma and Fletcher get into an argument in front of the guests, culminating in Emma tearfully realising that her fiance is still in love with the girl she was ten years ago, but that she's just not the same person anymore and they're no longer compatible. They call off the wedding and the ending reveals that Emma is now Happily Married to and having a baby with Liv's brother Nate, who has long had feelings for her.
  • Rachel Dawes for Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Despite them being childhood friends with a mutual attraction, Rachel says she wants to be with Bruce rather than Batman. She initially says she will wait until Gotham City no longer needs Batman, but as time goes on she starts to believe Bruce will never be able to stop being Batman and enters a relationship with Harvey Dent. Bruce is under the impression that she will still choose to be with him, but then she's murdered so it's rendered moot. Prior to her death, she wrote Bruce a letter saying she was in love with Harvey and intended to marry him, while still caring for Bruce more as a friend. Alfred initially kept this from Bruce to spare him further pain, but he eventually tells Bruce the truth when he feels Bruce's grief is consuming him. Bruce ultimately gets a happy ending with Selina Kyle (after a false start with Miranda Tate).
  • Earth Girls Are Easy: Ted to Valerie. Sure, they've been together a long time and are engaged to be married as the film starts, but it turns out "Doctor Love"'s been cheating on her with various nurses for quite a while too. The flashbacks that appear during "The Ground That You Walk On" make clear that her affection for him has always been greater than his for her, and in fact a nuisance to him on more than one occasion. Still, he's so vain that her leaving him for good would be wounding, so he swears up and down that he'll be faithful to her from now on. To make matters worse, even with her awareness of his flaws Valerie does still care about him enough to believe his claims; besides, she doesn't think that an actual "Mr. Right" could exist...and then a periwinkle-blue alien starship pilot who cleans up very nicely into Mr. Fanservice enters the picture...
  • Enchanted: Towards the end, True Love's Kiss indicates that the couples Prince Edward/Giselle and Robert/Nancy aren't meant to be with each other, but that Prince Edward/Nancy and Robert/Giselle are.
  • Forrest Gump: Jenny to Forrest. Eventually subverted when Jenny brings herself to realize that Forrest is the only one who has always been there for her throughout her life, and they get married.
  • La La Land: Though the film follows the passionate romance of Mia and Sebastian throughout the film, they cannot get past their differences and permanently break up at the end of the movie, with Mia shown to be married to another man in the Distant Finale.
  • Legally Blonde: Elle Woods is sure that her college boyfriend Warner is going to propose to her, but he ends up unceremoniously dumping her because he only sees her as a pretty face. Elle spends the better part of the first half of the film working to fit in with his new life at Harvard Law School to win him back, only to realize by the climax that she doesn't need Warner's approval to know that she is smart and worthy of being at a place like Harvard Law.
  • In Maleficent, King Stefan is this to Maleficent. They have a Childhood Friend Romance and on her 16th birthday he gives her what he calls a True Love's Kiss. However, over time his ambition causes him to grow distant and stop visiting her. When he does finally come to see her again, he uses their close relationship to lower her guard, drugs her and cuts off her wings to become king. Maleficent is so devastated by Stefan's betrayal she is convinced that true love doesn't even exist. When she curses his daughter in revenge, she uses true love's kiss as the escape clause precisely for this reason.
  • Solo: Qi'ra proves to be one for Han Solo (which is pretty much a Foregone Conclusion, seeing as Han's Love Interest in the original Star Wars trilogy is Princess Leia). They're very much in love as teenagers on Corellia and share a dream of escaping the planet and travelling the galaxy together. Even after being separated for three years, Han never stopped loving her or trying to find ways to get back to her. By the time they meet again, however, Qi'ra has changed quite a bit and has different priorities, though Han doesn't see it (or refuses to). In the end, Qi'ra abandons Han to pursue a career in the Crimson Dawn; even before that their relationship was on the rocks, as Han initially assumed she was the one who betrayed him to the Big Bad, while she was potentially willing to kill him to save herself. Interestingly, Qi'ra actually shares some traits with Leia, Han's Second Love.
  • Stardust: Victoria to Tristan. She's a spoilt and geniunely stuck-up brat who is sweet to Tristan more out of pity than any strong feelings toward him, even though he wants to propose and spend the rest of his life with her. He later falls for (the "star") Yvaine instead, who actually loves him in return, once he realizes this.
  • Teen Beach Movie: Mack and Brady end up trapped in movie Wet Side Story. By coincidence, Mack is where Lela, the female lead, should be when she met her boyfriend Tanner; and vice-versa with Brady and Tanner. As a result, he and Lela believe wrongly that, respectively, Mack and Brady are their soulmates. The latter two spend the rest of the movie trying to put them back in the right path.
  • Wolf (Mike Nichols): Charlotte Randall to Will Randall. He separates from her after he discovers she's been cheating on him, but before she gets killed by Stewart Swinton, whom she's been having the affairs with.

  • In Blood and Chocolate (1997), Aiden tells Vivian he believes she's his soulmate, because she understands him better than anyone else and never judges him. Vivian starts to wonder if it's true and does think she's in love with Aiden, so she decides to reveal to him that she's a werewolf, believing he will accept her unconditionally. It does not go well. Vivian comes to realize she and Aiden were both in love with their idea of each other and she decides to be with Gabriel, a fellow werewolf who loves all of Vivian and helps her to accept herself.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Tamlin is revealed to be this to Feyre in the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury. Much of the first book is dedicated to developing their romance and by the next book they're getting married, but it soon becomes clear this isn't going to have a fairytale ending. Both of them are traumatized by their experiences Under the Mountain, with Tamlin acting like nothing happened but becoming protective of Feyre to the point of possessiveness, leaving her feeling suffocated and emotionally unsupported. The fact that as his wife she'd clearly do little but give him heirs and stand around looking pretty also gives her serious doubts about marrying Tamlin, right up to the moment she walks down the aisle. Then there's the part where Tamlin locks Feyre in their house even though he knows it's a Trauma Button for her, causing her to have a severe panic attack. It's eventually revealed that Feyre's true love is Rhysand, whom she has a mating bond with and who comparatively treats her better. When Tamlin finds out, he doesn't take it well. At. All.
  • In the Night World book Dark Angel, Angel is revealed to be this to Gillian Lennox. He starts out as the one person who understands Gillian the most and she frequently confides in him, regarding him as being as important to her as David. Angel later claims outright that they're soulmates. However, Gillian gradually becomes alienated from him due to his increasingly disturbing behavior, realizes she doesn't like the person she's becoming under his influence and also comes to realize she doesn't really know much about Angel as a person. It's revealed near the end that David is her real soulmate.
  • In Devil Venerable Also Wants To Know, Baili Qingmiao is devotedly in love with He Wenzhao, her childhood friend and the reincarnation of the deity her past goddess incarnation became karmically connected to, but she slowly realizes over the course of the story that He Wenzhao, while he does love her back to some extent, is a selfish and small-minded person who isn't half as invested in their relationship as she is and will never stop sleeping with other women no matter how much it upsets her and it's far better for her to give up on him for good than to try to cling to their toxic relationship.
  • In the first 8 books of Dragonlance: The New Adventures, it seems like Davyn and Nearra were on their way to becoming an Official Couple, but in the Trinistyr Trilogy they break up, and Davyn starts a relationship with Rina instead.
  • Ayla and Jondalar both have experiences with this in Earth's Children:
    • Ayla is this to Ranec in The Mammoth Hunters. He falls head over heels for her in just a few months and is convinced they are meant to be, going as far as asking her to become his mate, which is equivalent to spouse in modern culture. Ayla ends up moving in with him, considers staying with the Lion Camp instead of following through with her original plan to move in with the Zelandonii and even agrees to marry him...but her heart isn't truly in it. She eventually breaks things off with Ranec and goes back to Jondalar, the man she truly loves (and it's strongly hinted that it's her destiny to be with him and become part of the Zelandonii). Ranec is pretty distraught but he eventually gets over it somewhat and ends up mating his ex Tricie, whom he was intending to marry before he met Ayla.
    • Zelandoni Who is First, formely known as Zolena, was this for Jondalar. Their relationship was never ideal due to her being several years older and his donii-woman – her role was to introduce an adolescent Jondalar to the 'Gift of Pleasure', but nothing more. Having a serious relationship would be considered quite scandalous and could've gotten Zolena in trouble (Jondalar mentions that as the older woman, she would've received more blame). Despite this, Jondalar deeply loved her and was never interested in being with anyone else, while Zolena herself even considered breaking the taboo and mating him. The incident with Madroman, wherein Jondalar beat the crap out of him for publicly revealing their Secret Relationship made Zolena realise it would never work out and she broke things off. Years later, Jondalar meets his Second Love Ayla and while they also face many challenges to their relationship, they're ultimately more compatible and end up Happily Married. Zelandoni herself greatly approves of Ayla and thinks it was destiny she and Jondalar didn't end up together, as otherwise, she would probably not have become Zelandoni Who is First.
  • Edenborn has Deuce, who invokes every trope in the book in his long-distance romance of Penny. He succeeds, but later realizes she's massively unstable and manipulative.
  • The Great Gatsby has one of the more famous examples. Gatsby pines after Daisy for years, and is sure that if he can build a fortune and win her love, they'll live happily ever after. The fact that she's married doesn't dissuade him, and he never seems to notice how shallow, careless and self-involved she is. Things don't work out in the end.
  • Katniss is this for Gale in The Hunger Games trilogy. He's in love with her and believes that they belong together, but while she loves him too in the platonic sense, she never ends up falling in love with him. Any chance of them ever being together is thoroughly destroyed in Mockingjay, after Katniss learns that Gale may have had a hand – wittingly or not – in the death of her beloved sister Prim; she ultimately ends up with Peeta, stating in the epilogue that she feels he is better suited for her than Gale.
  • The Memory Wars has Laura. Nathan spends time in the first book trying to maintain and save their relationship, but it falls apart when she reveals that she is pregnant with his best friend's child.
  • Piece of My Heart:
    • Roseanne says she once believed she and Daniel be together for the rest of their lives, with Daniel also referring to her as "the love of his life", but their romance went horribly wrong after Daniel got into a serious accident that gave him brain damage four years into their marriage (they'd dated in college prior to marrying); the injury drastically altered Daniel's personality, making him aggressive, paranoid, short-tempered and violent towards Roseanne. She still loved the man he used to be, but she was terrified of him of now and realised he wouldn't get better anytime soon, filing for divorce and moving far away with their daughter. Despite her initial guilt, Roseanne has recently started dating another man and believes he could be her second chance at love, while Daniel's worsening psychological problems make him incapable of healthy relationships.
    • Michelle Carpenter believed she and her boyfriend Daniel were in love, despite Daniel being around a decade older and their relationship being just a few months old. Daniel led her on, with he being the one to pursue her and them both making plans for marriage and children when Michelle graduated. However, Michelle realised the truth when she saw Daniel with his wife and daughter, not long after she learned Daniel had gotten her pregnant, and broke off all contact. Daniel's narration confirmed he never truly loved Michelle; he only saw their affair as a fling that went too far, regretted it because it could've ruined his marriage and barely thought about Michelle again after she ended things. Things took an especially dark turn when Michelle informed Daniel she'd been pregnant with his child and given the boy up for adoption, with Daniel murdering her for "stealing" his son from him.
  • In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood is sure that Mr. Willoughby is her One True Love, and is devastated to find out that he is actually engaged to another woman.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • It's indicated the late Lyanna Stark is this to Robert Baratheon, who is in denial. While he undoubtedly loved her a great deal, his view of her and their relationship is very rose-tinted. Robert views Lyanna as the only woman he ever truly wanted and is convinced they would've been happy together, often unfavorably comparing her to his hated wife Cersei. However, Eddard Stark notes that Robert didn't know Lyanna as well as he thought he did. Lyanna also wasn't nearly as keen on their betrothal as Robert was and was doubtful Robert would stop drinking and womanizing after they married. A popular fan theory is that she may even have willingly run off with Rhaegar Targaryen, rather than being kidnapped by him (in the television adaptation this theory is confirmed in Season 7, though it remains to be seen how this plays out in the books).
    • Prince Joffrey is this to Sansa Stark. Dear god. Even before they're betrothed, Sansa is smitten with Joffrey and thinks they'll live happily ever after just like in the songs and stories. She's convinced they're in love and either makes excuses for or is blind to Joffrey's horrid behavior. She even tells Queen Cersei about her father's plan to send her and her sister home so she can stay with Joffrey, leading to Eddard being arrested for treason and his household being massacred (Sansa's only eleven and very naive, so she initially doesn't understand the implications of her actions). It's only when her beloved prince has Eddard beheaded in front of her after he promised to be merciful that Sansa finally realizes how monstrous he is and that he doesn't care about her, even enjoying causing her physical and emotional harm.
    • Asha Greyjoy for Tristifer Botley. They experimented sexually as preteens and ever since Tris has been infatuated with her, convincing himself they're soulmates, and they will marry someday and have babies. He even refused to sleep with anyone else, saving himself for Asha. When they meet again as adults, it's made abundantly clear Asha doesn't feel the same; she doesn't dislike Tris but she saw him as nothing but a childish fling, she definitely hasn't been 'saving herself' for him and if she were to marry anyone it would be Qarl the Maid (only he's too lowborn for her). When Tris finds out she's slept with other men, he's SHOCKED and even asks her if she was forced, to which she assures him that nope, she just wanted to get laid and maybe he should too.
  • Callista and Luke in Star Wars Legends. There's a period where it seems like they're deeply in love and Luke is doing everything he can to help her, but then she decides to leave him to figure out what's going on with her Force connection. Luke moves on, eventually marrying and having a family with Mara Jade.
  • Invoked in Throne of Glass in regards to Lyria and Rowan. In the backstory Rowan was led to believe that Lyria was his soulmate and was left devastated and bitter for centuries after she died, believing he would never again feel that way about anyone. However, he finds himself developing strong affection for Aelin and subsequently learns that she is his true soulmate (she wasn't even born when Rowan and Lyria met). It's revealed that Maeve used magic to trick Rowan into believing Lyria was his mate and later arranged for her to be killed to break him; Maeve used his grief to manipulate him into swearing loyalty to her to give him some sense of purpose again.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Bella Swan turns out to be this for Jacob Black. He falls deeply in love with her, but while Bella does admit to loving Jacob, she states she loves Edward Cullen more. It doesn't help that as a werewolf, Jacob's One True Love is his 'imprint' – when a werewolf 'imprints' on someone, they instantly recognise that person as their soulmate and become devoted to them; this doesn’t seem to be the case with Bella. In fact, Jacob wishes he would imprint so that he'd stop pining for Bella. In the end, it's revealed that Jacob's imprint is in fact Bella and Edward's daughter, Renesmee, and the author even hints that part of the reason Jacob fell in love with Bella in the first place was because he was subconsciously 'waiting' for Renesmee.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock
    • Liz Lemon is sure that Floyd is her One True Love, but the two end up having very different life goals. Floyd wants to move back home to the smaller, cheaper city of Cleveland, where he can be a big fish in a small pond. Liz wants to stay in the fast-paced lifestyle and job she has in New York. Floyd eventually moves back to Cleveland and marries a girl there, which crushes Liz when she finds out.
    • Wesley Snipes (no, not that Wesley Snipes) is sure that he and Liz are "settling soulmates", even though the two can't stand each other. Liz, though, is not ready to give up on the idea of true love just yet. In the last season, she ends up marrying her equally dorky boyfriend Chriss Chross, a much better match for her.
    • Jack is in several serious relationships over the course of the show, and marries twice (both prior to and during the show), but he ends the series single.
    • Kenneth falls in love with Hazel, a fellow page, but the relationship doesn't work out when her Ax-Crazy tendencies get her fired from TGS.
  • Grant Ward is a false soulmate to Skye/Daisy Johnson during the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: he's a HYDRA agent who has been faking almost his entire personality since they met. When she finds out the truth, she's completely repulsed, and events in the second season, namely her shooting him, plus Word of God from the actor indicate that the ship is totally sunk. Ironically, Daisy thought Lincoln Campbell was alive and dating her in the Framework in Season 4. Turns out it was Ward.
  • The premise of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is that Rebecca reshapes her entire life and goals to revolve around winning back her one-time summer camp boyfriend, Josh. Josh, while a bit of a himbo is a well-meaning guy, but he does not reciprocate Rebecca's feelings to nearly the same degree. On her part, Rebecca realizes that her Love Epiphany for Josh is actually more just a way to distract herself from her less pretty, very real problems, including undiagnosed BPD among other things.
  • Peyton for Mac on CSI: NY. They were fairly serious in season 3 and very early in season 4, although Mac still struggled with losing his wife. But she eventually leaves him with a "Dear John" Letter. When she returns for an ep in season 6, she explains that she knew that she couldn't give up her ties to her home and family in London, and didn't want to force him to choose between her and his life in New York. The original plan was to have a Love Triangle with Mac’s friend Audrey, but that ended up an Aborted Arc. Mac ultimately ends the series engaged to his Second Love Christine Whitney, with whom he has a much more natural and compatible relationship.
  • Galavant:
    • Galavant and Madalena. The opening song is about how they are so in love and he will do anything to save her, but she quickly dumps him about five minutes in, choosing fame and fortune instead. But Galavant himself won't realize that Isabella is his true soulmate before the sixth episode.
    • Madalena was maybe this to King Richard, as well, as it turns out that she deceives him and Richard sings "Maybe you're not the worst thing ever" to her right in the episode two. In season two, Richard's actual soulmate turns out to be Roberta.
  • Game of Thrones confirms Lyanna Stark was this to Robert Baratheon. They were set to marry until she was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen and later died. Robert mourns her for the rest of his life and openly states she was "the one thing I ever wanted". No one, not his numerous lovers and not his wife Cersei, could ever replace Lyanna in his affections (which doesn't help his marriage any) and he's convinced he would've been truly happy with her. However, it's implied that Robert over-idealized Lyanna and she didn't love him the same way. It's eventually revealed that Lyanna was actually in love with Rhaegar and she wasn't kidnapped; she willingly eloped with him and bore his child, dying of childbirth complications.
  • The Good Place: In the afterlife, soulmates are paired together. One of the first things that happens is Eleanor explains to her supposed soulmate, Chidi, that she's not supposed to be in the Good Place at all. They spend the rest of the season as platonic friends. Then it turns out they were actually in the Bad Place the whole time; the soulmates were just one of the ways they were being tortured, paired up with people who would annoy them for eternity. The soulmates were switched up in many of the reboots (including one where Eleanor was paired with Tahani), but Chidi and Eleanor did end up in romantic relationships several times. Michael eventually confirms once and for all that soulmates are not real.
  • In The Haunting of Bly Manor, it's revealed that Dani and her fiance Edmund were this to each other. They were childhood friends who got engaged as adults, but while Dani did love Edmund as her best friend, she couldn't return his romantic love because she's a lesbian. She went along with the engagement anyway as she didn't want to hurt Edmund and his family, and thought that eventually she'd start 'feeling the way she was supposed to', but the guilt finally got to her and she confessed everything. Edmund was devastated she'd lied to him, and then he was killed in a traffic accident before they could make amends. It takes Dani half the series to overcome the trauma and get into a relationship with Jamie, who she is happy with for the rest of her life.
  • How I Met Your Mother: The main character Ted's season 3 love interest and fiance Stella. In Robin's own words, Ted was "disappearing into someone else's life". Stella would later apologize to Ted for leaving him on the day of their wedding and explained that while she did love and care for Ted because he helped her believe in romance again, she was always in love with Tony.
  • The Middle:
    • In Season 8, Axl Heck's refusal to give up on his ill-advised relationship with April kept him from being with his real love Lexie Brooks for months.
    • In Season 9, Sue Heck dated the dumb and clumsy Aiden while she and Sean Donahue were too afraid to tell each other how the other felt.
  • Shadow and Bone: Mal and Alina discuss this near the end of the second season. They've shared a strong connection since childhood, with Mal repeatedly stating throughout the series he believes Alina is his "true north" and that he'll always be able to find his way back to her. All of this seems to point to them being each other's true love. However, Mal eventually tells Alina that while he definitely cares for her, he's no longer certain if their connection is based on real feelings or if it was more because he's one of Morozova's legendary amplifiers while Alina is a powerful Grisha, and thus they were supernaturally drawn to each other. Mal decides he needs time apart from Alina to figure out his identity and feelings, telling her that if they do still feel they belong together, it will be by choice rather than Because Destiny Says So.
  • Stefan and Elena from The Vampire Diaries were originally the certain endgame of the show in the first two seasons. There has been a dramatic shift to from Stefan and Elena to Damon and Elena becoming the series's endgame ever since the season 2 finale. Damon and Elena are certainly the fan-preferred ship.
  • Yennefer for Geralt in The Witcher (2019). They fall in love and he's one of the first people in years she feels she can lower her guard around (and vice versa). But then she learns that Geralt's final wish to the djinn in Rinde linked her to him, leaving her visibly disappointed and angry, as she believes her feelings for him are not real and are only caused by magic. Even when Geralt insists that their love is real, Yennefer has doubts and abandons Geralt.

    Video Games 
  • Penelope is revealed to be one of the Gold Digger and Evil All Along variety in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Bentley is convinced that she's a Nice Girl who helped him get over his developing resentment towards Sly. In reality, Penelope is a jealous sociopath who only pretended to love Bentley for his skills so she could make a fortune in weapon designs. Bentley does not take the reveal well, and his attempts to reason with her almost gets him and Sly murdered.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, this is the premise for the "bad" epilogues, and also the "neutral" epilogue with Lily.

    Western Animation