Know Your Role: Laymates, Playmates and Soulmates

September 18, 2014
3 Relationship Types

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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  • Reply Anonymous November 20, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Wow! Written with such wisdom and simplicity. Thank you for writing from the content of your heart and experience. The cost of wasted time can never be regained but with insight you can recognize……strengths and weaknesses.

    • Reply Renita Bryant, Author December 11, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      Thank you for your kind words and also for leaving a comment! Great feedback!

  • Reply 6 Signs You’re Dating a “Playmate” | Renita's Mynd Matters November 12, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    […] If you missed the definition of the Play/Datemate, read HERE. […]

  • Reply Dom Sharee November 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    I truly enjoyed reading this article. When I first read this post on LinkedIn, I figured I would come out and just show support, but instead I was enlighted. You made me re-think a lot of my previous relationships and your article helped me better grasp an understanding of the latest break through I am going through. Your observations are extremely through and on point and I love the names you have given these mates. Definitely will keep this in mind in my future love dealings.

    • Reply Renita Bryant, Author November 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to read and post a comment! You are definitely not alone in needing to assess past relationships. We all should – and some current relationships as well! I’m glad this post was of value to you and I wish you the best!

  • Reply Suzanne Steele November 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Phenomenal writing and insight, thank you for sharing…

    • Reply Renita Bryant, Author November 9, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Thanks for reading the blog and commenting! I appreciate the positive feedback!

  • Reply 6 Signs You’re Dating a Laymate | Renita's Mynd Matters October 22, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    […] If you missed the definition of a Laymate, read HERE.  […]

  • Reply acellnamedscooter October 18, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Interesting observations!
    I believe you can mold a partner into a lay mate or playmate (or even just a friend) – but a soulmate just is.
    Unlike the others, soulmates have no season. It’s like you said, they make you better (and vice versa); they evolve with you.

    • Reply Renita Bryant, Author November 9, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Thanks for your comments! I agree with your assessment of soulmate as well!

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