Well, here's my guess, based on the names we've seen for such activities so far: A furmate is someone you roll in the furs with. Basically, you meet at an orgy or some similar activity- glance at each other and catch one another's eye- your sexy gazes say "oh yeah- I'm down for that!" And then you retire to engage in said activity. This may only happen once or twice (as with Skywise and Yun's mother). How does this happen? Go ask your father. A lovemate is someone you roll in the furs with on a regular basis. You probably also care about this person in a way that makes them more special to you than just any other elf. Maybe there is love, or maybe just some really strong liking happening- but either way, you love dancing the horizontal tango together. You are probably not exclusive- and/or not fully committed to being in this relationship for life. But for Now, it's good. How does this happen? Fur-mating multiple times until the affection just develops. For more information, go ask your mother. A lifemate is someone you are in it for life with. You might not be exclusive, but you are in it for the long haul (however immortal or near-immortal you both may be)- and have no intention of breaking this up. How does this happen? I think that two elves just decide that's how it's going to be. They either recognize, and it happens naturally- or they choose it. Shuna appears to do it a more traditional, human way- with formal proposals and a ceremony. But the elves, Sun Folk aside, don't really seem to have marriage ceremonies, so I imagine- one elf (let's say Nightfall) asks another elf (let's say Redlance) "Mind if I call you 'lifemate?'" And then that elf (Redlance) says "By Freefoot's fine fanny- let's do it!"