You might remember the time when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their conscious uncoupling - I know you remember because people lost their shit about the language that was used to say they were breaking up. But here’s the thing - whether you’re consciously coupling or consciously uncoupling, neither is just being in or breaking up from a relationship. The one determining factor that sets it all apart is intentionality - that is, after all, what makes it a conscious act.
Okay, well I don’t see any difference.
I know. It’s hard. It seems so inconsequential, but it’s actually a really big deal. Most people - and don’t hate me for speaking truth here, I’m guilty of being “most people” myself - most people do not enter into conscious relationships. Most people meet someone, spend some time with them, and decide if they like them enough to continue spending time with them or not. They are, in essence spending all of their time together measuring compatibility (to include sexual compatibility), but compatibility isn’t what makes a relationship conscious. You can be quite compatible with another person and not enter into a conscious relationship. As I said, a conscious relationship requires intention and it requires an already conscious relationship with yourself first.
Before you can even begin thinking about what a conscious partnership can look like, you have to have a firm knowledge of who you are, which means - you have to be doing the work! Knowing yourself means knowing your outer and inner self (light and shadow), processing any past traumas, knowing your attachment stance, and having a clear vision. I know, it’s a lot, but it is required or else you find yourself in patterns - the very patterns that you’re probably trying to get away from! And, no - these things aren’t something you figure out once and then you just go on living them and knowing them; you’re a human being, there will be evolution, but the point is that you are doing the work, and you are owning all of your parts. Through your own work, you’ll find that having a partner who isn’t also doing their work simply won’t work for you. Not only will you begin to attract people who are of the same mindset, because energy attracts energy, but you will find it intolerable to accept someone who refuses to participate in personal development - and that’s okay. In fact, I would argue, that’s the whole point!
When you’re ready to move on from your foundation to establishing the components that are valuable to you in a relationship, you can begin considering what’s most valuable in a partner as well. And it probably goes without saying here, but I’m obviously not going to be talking about superficial non-negotiables, but character traits and personal values that are in alignment with your own.
Here’s an example of how this falls out for me, in brief:
The relationship I have with myself is grounded in unconditional love, emotional security, and play. What this looks like is: I eliminate negative self-talk 100%, even as a “joke.” I don’t speak negatively about my body, my mood, changing my mind, my likes, my dislikes, my dreams, my living situation, my current relationships, my circumstances, etc. Yes, there are days that I’m unhappy about something, and I process those thoughts, but I don’t create negative spirals that push me further from the truth and deeper into resentment. I allow when tears need to fall. I allow feeling whatever I need to feel, without judgment. I honor the part of me that needs to express those emotions at the time in which they need to be expressed. I play. I go outside. I laugh. I act silly, especially with people who act silly with me. I try not to take myself too seriously. I snuggle my cats. I set the tone for what is allowed, I hold the boundary for what is acceptable, and I don’t hold on to what doesn’t serve me (including people).
My partner is comfortable with discomfort. He is open to personal development, to exploring his shadow, to healing the parts of his past that influence his present (as that’s exactly what I am also doing). He is kind and generous with his love. He is gentle and compassionate. He is able to laugh at himself and play because he has a good relationship with his inner child. He is comfortable in his individuality and independence and feels as though a partnership is an enhancement on an already full life, not a piece to completing him. He knows how to set and hold healthy boundaries. He knows his attachment stance and how it affects his relationships with himself and others. He knows his purpose (or is remembering it) and lives his life in accordance with it. His emotional intelligence is higher than average. He knows how to claim me.
Our vision for a conscious relationship looks like two people who know how to support each other without losing themselves. We know that a relationship ebbs and flows and that we will each have days when one of us will need more than the other, and that’s okay. We have a shared purpose (this is high on the list of non-negotiables). We feel safe with each other, warm, nurturing, and strong in our foundation. We have implicit trust in each other and when that trust is ruptured even a little bit, we both know how to look within first to determine if it’s a case of an attribution error, and then we repair. We can grow together, playfully, and deepen our love through action and connection. We love. Hard. We ask for help and more importantly, we accept help from each other. We honor each other’s shadow - we honor all of each other’s parts.
That sounds like a lot of work.
It is - but you get what you pay for and we make payments in energy every day. That might sound really shitty - and the truth is, you don’t have to do any of this work. You can continue doing what you’re doing. For me, doing what I was doing wasn’t working. Doing what I was doing kept me in a loop of emotionally unavailable men who refused to do their own work and wanted everything to be “easy.” I used to say that I don’t have a type because none of my exes looked or acted anything alike - and then it hit me - they were all insecurely attached individuals who believed that their ideal partner is someone just like them and when they meet them, everything will just fall into place and the relationship won’t require any work. They also all started with very little effort, no boundaries, and because I was too insecurely attached to believe that I deserved more. So if you’ve been in a cycle of terrible relationships, where you too are realizing that it’s been because you have settled and you want better - Friend, I think you’re going to have to do some work.
Listen, I want all of us to be in partnerships that are meaningful and supportive, and full of love. Real true love. Not romanticized, grand gesture, fake Hollywood love, but raw, real, in-your-face emotion - because that shit is amazing! Also, I’m not saying that entering into conscious relationships means finding “the one” because it doesn’t. In fact, I think the time has passed to put away this notion of finding "the one." To expect two people to grow together in perfect harmony over months, years, decades is unrealistic and rooted very much in attachment -- not love. A conscious partnership is about two people who treat their relationship with each other with intention. It's about two people who choose to learn, choose to work, choose to hold space, choose to grow - individually first, and then together. A conscious partnership is also about two people who choose to be honest and choose to be fair and choose to end things when it's the right thing to do, which brings us back to where this started: Chris and Gwenyth's conscious uncoupling. I believe when we act with intention, we manage the emotions of those actions better, so even though breaking up is hard no matter what, when you consciously uncouple, you’ll grieve differently and so will they.
When all is said and done, making yourself “the one” first will set the foundation for what comes next, and I implore you to set as solid a foundation as possible. Until Next Time,