Are you truly willing to be awake in your relationship?
A lot of people like to pay lip service to the idea of being in a ‘conscious relationship’… but when push comes to shove, they aren’t interested in truly doing their work.
It’s easy to hide behind the guise of being woke as fuck, but walking the walk is a whole other ballgame.
First off, if you’re new to this whole concept of being awake in your relationship, let me break it down for you.
Relationships aren’t meant to make you happy. They’re meant to wake you up.
If you expect your relationship to make you happy as a person, that’s also known as codependency and you’re eventually headed for a rude awakening. If you base your life’s fulfillment on a person (or money, or fame, or your achievements) when that isn’t complemented with you honouring your core values, then the gig will eventually be up and you’ll realize that you need something deeper to sustain you.
An intimate relationship with someone who is a good fit for you is like nature’s most effective form of therapy (that results in healing and spiritual growth).
Sure, on the surface, you are lovers. But deep down, you are also each others enemies. Enemies to each others egos. Enemies to each other’s desire to play small in the world. Enemies to the parts that want to self-sabotage. Enemies to the parts of each other that can be nasty, self-rejecting, and inconsiderate.
To explain the gap between going through the motions in your love life and being awake in your love life, here are some examples of what each modus operandi looks like.
Being asleep/unconscious in your relationship:
– Telling your partner that they make you feel a certain way (making someone else responsible for your emotional state)
– Disowning your power/anger/sadness/any emotion, and having your partner act it out on your behalf for the both of you (aka displacement)
– Being unwilling to look into why you feel jealous/sad/angry/resentful and going through the motions as if nothing is wrong for you
– Covertly trying to manipulate your partner into meeting your needs without you ever naming them
– Listening to your partner and always believing their words at face value when they are upset
– Being quick to take things personally and make everything about you
– Saying yes when you really mean no
– Becoming grumpy/grouchy/childish when your partner says no
– Seeing yourself as a victim in your relationship who is the one who tries really hard but always gets the short end of the stick
– Seeing yourself as the only one who truly invests any real love or energy into your partnership
– Expecting that your partner owes you sex just because they’re in a relationship with you
– Pretending that you’re content with your sex life when you aren’t
Being awake/conscious in your relationship:
– Asking for your needs to be met, by naming them directly and being unattached to the outcome
– Nudging into your partner’s resistance when they tell you they’re fine when you can tell that they’re hurting
– Becoming curious when you feel a challenging emotion (sadness, jealousy, anger, etc.) and having a desire to discover the real root issue of what is coming up for you
– Naming your emotional and sexual needs with clarity
– Making sex, and you and your partner’s pleasure, a priority
– Understanding that both you and your partner are each other’s best bullshit detectors and that you should use each other as such (to reality-test fears and assumptions you both will sometimes carry)
– Being willing to get some of your social and emotional needs met outside of your intimate relationship (i.e. having friends and hobbies/not expecting that one person should meet all of your needs flawlessly)
– Being willing to take full responsibility for your part in miscommunications that lead into arguments
– Saying yes when you want to, and saying no when you want to
– Being fully ready and willing to honour your partner’s no whenever you receive it, and not make it mean anything about you
– Staying in your centre, while also loving your partner with the full breadth and depth of your heart
If you notice yourself more in the second list, congratulations! You’re doing great. Keep up the good work. You can probably just stop reading this article now.
If you see yourself more in the former list, have no fear. It’s never too late to start being more mindful in your relationships.
Being conscious, or awake, in your relationship really comes down to being: responsible for your mind, and intentional in how you love.
a) Being responsible for your mind
Being willing to be truly responsible for your mind is what really separates the people who want to be seen as doing the work to people who actually lean into their work.
It’s easy to project our shit on to our partner and make them the problem. What takes courage and real self-awareness is to constantly check in with where our relationship to ourselves (and to our lives) needs tending to, and to take responsibility for what we discover.
b) Being intentional in how you love
It’s easy to put in no effort, watch a relationship deteriorate, and then blame the divorce rate, or the ‘seven year itch’, or smart phones, or whatever lazy cop out of an excuse the advertising giants are pumping out to the masses.
What takes real conscious work is putting in effort every day to love them like they’ve never been loved before, and to simultaneously work towards being completely unguarded in the receiving of that same level of love from them.
If you want to slide the fader into the more conscious side of the spectrum, here are some things you can do starting today.
1. Become aware of, and be willing to verbalize, your relationship needs
What are the most significant needs you have that you predominantly (or exclusively) want to have met in your intimate relationship?
Perhaps you care a lot about playfulness. Or deep, stimulating conversation. Or extended lovemaking.
Whatever they are, you must first come to know yourself well enough to be aware of these needs, and then have the courage to explicitly name them to your partner.
If blurting your needs out at random times is too much for you, have a structured empty-the-bucket clearing exercise where you both respond to the question, “What else can I do for you to help you feel more loved?”, for 5-10 minutes straight. When the first partner is finished, the other person goes, until you both feel complete.
2. Be willing to tell the full truth
An intimate relationship only has the opportunity to thrive if both parties are willing to be honest.
And not just be honest when it’s easy, but also be honest when it’s most difficult to do so.
Now, obviously honesty has to be balanced with a sense of compassion. You don’t want to spit harsh truths when your covert intention is to hurt your partner. But the societal default is for people to be too passive and half-hearted when it comes to relationship communication.
Intent matters. You can say “I love you” or “I’ll never leave you” with a malicious, manipulative intent. And you can also say “You’ve been gaining weight lately” or “I don’t feel connected to you lately” from a place of love and tenderness.
But if you and/or your partner are constantly biting your tongue and letting your quiet resentments build, your connection won’t have a snowballs chance in hell of surviving long term.
If something gathers enough steam in your mind that it starts to create a small divide between you and your partner, then it is worth talking about. And talking about fully, honestly, and with your heart open.
3. Put in a genuine and consistent effort
“It ain’t a thing. Love is a verb.”
– John Mayer
An intimate relationship is like a garden that you and your partner water, landscape, and put energy into.
If you both consistently put energy into your garden, then it will grow beautiful flowers that you can admire, and fruits and vegetables that you can receive sustenance from.
But if you both take energy from the garden without ever adding to it, then eventually the garden will become depleted and barren.
“It just wasn’t the right garden for me. I want a garden that doesn’t need any watering and that I can marvel at and pull energy from all day, every day”, says the perpetual victim… continuing the search out there for a garden that requires no maintenance or effort.
An intimate relationship (like a well maintained garden) throws off many gifts. It can give you nourishment in the most challenging phases of your life. But it requires energy from you.
In any partnership there are three entities: you, me, and the relationship.
In a co-dependent bond, the people involved see only the relationship.
In a partnership of intimacy averse avoidants, it’s hard for them to see anything but ‘you and me.’
But a true, healthy partnership contains all three elements at all times.
You know where you end. You know where they begin. And you are both aware of, and actively tending to, the garden that you both invest energy into.
This is the same with all major elements of a life. Your health requires constant effort. So does your business/your career. So do your friendships. So does raising children.
Anything worth having in life is worth fighting for, and worth investing energy into.
Even if all you do to incorporate this point is, once per quarter, you explicitly ask your partner, “What can I do to love you better?”, and then truly listen (and act on what they tell you), you will already be leagues ahead of 99% of people.
So that’s it (for this article)…
– Be willing to verbalize your specific needs
– Be willing to tell the full truth, even when it’s difficult to do so
– Put in a genuine and consistent effort
Do those three things with the most honest effort and consistency you can muster, and you should be just fine.
Dedicated to your success,
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