They may live in different parts of the world. Or maybe they will choose alternating lifetimes to appear in the Physical plane. But they can never be separated in the world of the Spirit. Perhaps they will meet during a lifetime. When they do, they know it instantly.
Twin flames are not the same as soul mates. Soul mates meet in a lifetime to complete something that was left undone in a past life. They always meet for the purpose of spiritual expansion and growth, or to complete a learning experience, or to complete the circle of love.
I have seen this in families, where there is a deep soul connection between a mother or a father and certain children. These children have recirculated into their parents’ lives. In some cases the love is so deep, they re-emerge to experience it once again, but in a new way.
Karmic Counterparts can meet to complete a relationship that was not resolved in a previous existence. Sometimes these kinds of soul mate relationships are difficult but very rewarding. They are two distinct souls living in the Super-Soul of the cosmos. Yet they are eternally connected and may re-emerge in different lifetimes together.
Twin flames are soul mates AND the same person (yet split into two bodies, like cosmic twins). Both Soul Mates and twin flames have this in common: It is a spiritual union, and as such, it is eternal. So there is never any permanent separation. It is a bond based in infinity.