A Mate is the name given to the individual with whom a special and very rare bond is shared, the Mating Bond. It is similar to the real-world idea of "soulmates", but much, much stronger.
The mating bond is described to appear as a link between the minds of the two Fae represented by different structures such as a bridge or string.
Members of the Fae species are able to sense their mates, but only if the other side is Fae. If their mate is mortal, then this sense will be dulled. Cassian suspected Nesta Archeron was his mate since she was still human.
A mating bond can reveal itself at different times depending on the couple. For some, it snaps into place right when the pair meet (ex. Elain Archeron and Lucien Vanserra), but for others, it can be years before the bond is discovered (ex. Viviane and Kallias).
When the mating bond is accepted it is higher than the bond between a regular married couple and is considered very sacred.
When the mating bond snaps into place between a male and female, the female must offer the male food so they can be mated. Once a female has done this, she has accepted the mating bond. This can be done in a public mating ceremony or privately where only the couple is present and the female offers the male food, like Rhysand and Feyre Archeron did.
In a public mating ceremony, the mates swear their vows in front of a priestess and offer each other food. Then their friends and family bind their hands together with a length of black ribbon that remains until the mating is consummated.
Once the mating bond is accepted, the couple falls into a state called "The Frenzy" that can last from a few days to several weeks.
It goes back to the beasts that the Fae once were, and is probably about ensuring that the male impregnates the female.
Some couples do not leave the house for a week. Males get so volatile that it can be dangerous for them to be in public. Males of reason and education have been known to shatter a room and attack other males, only because a male looked too long in the direction of his mate, too soon after their mating.
Rhysand and Feyre spend a day locked in a cabin after their mating and once they leave and return to civilization, Cassian seeks a way to enrage Rhys into fighting him and shaking off the feeling of constant volatility.
The mating does not guarantee the couple will be happy and in love forever. In fact, there are multiple cases of unhappily mated couples like Rhysand's mother and father or Tamlin's parents. This happens because the general idea of the mating bond is that both individuals are complete equals, but not necessarily romantically matched. With mating bonds concerning a male and female, the bond is also based on which pairing would create the strongest offspring.
It is possible for same-sex couples to be mates, but alternate ceremonies for traditions such as the offering of food are unknown (it can be assumed, however, that simply one or both members offer the other food, regardless of gender).
A mating bond can also be rejected. If a male is rejected by a female, the loss of his mate has the capability to drive him into madness.
If the bond snaps between two individuals and one is already married, the situation must be treated very delicately. The males will always feel an intrinsic sense of entitlement to their mate and could go as far as to waging a duel or even war against their chosen lover. In the Autumn Court specifically, a male can invoke the Blood Duel.
If one of the mated pair dies, the loss is unbearable for the other as it feels like they have lost a part of their soul. Many Fae often decide they don't wish to live without their mate.
- Rhysand and Feyre Archeron
- Cassian and Nesta Archeron (soon to be mated)
- Lucien Vanserra and Elain Archeron (have not mated)
- Kallias and Viviane
- Rhysand's father and mother
- Drakon and Miryam
- Tamlin's father and mother
- Alis's sister and brother-in-law
- Not very often does a Fae have a mortal mate, and it is unknown if a faerie and a mortal can be mated.
- Mates can feel the other's emotions through the bond. It's unclear if every mated pair can mentally communicate or only daemati have this ability.
- On one occasion when Tamlin is in the rose garden of his manor with Feyre he tells her that it had been planted by his father for his mother after their mating.