If you don’t know my history, I’ve pretty much always been in unhealthy trauma-bonded relationships.
Now, for a long time, I didn’t actually realize that was what it was. That’s actually why I got into this work in the first place.
If you haven’t heard my story, go listen to the first episode of my podcast, because it really dives into my story and explains what got me here. But essentially, my current relationship is really the first conscious relationship that I’ve ever been in.
Every relationship along the way has been better, but not quite there. And this new relationship with my partner Drew, it could not be more different. In 2020, I wrote my manifesto of everything that I wanted in a partner, and I’m literally in that exact relationship now, which is so, so, so cool.
I’ve learned so much since beginning this relationship almost a year ago, and I want to share some of those lessons with you. So strap yourself in, grab yourself a cup of tea, and get ready to soak up these lessons.
The first point I want to make is this: when you want to lean out, lean in.
There are going to be a million fucking times when it will be easier for you to go into your reactivity patterns. It’s easier for you to become defensive. It’s easier for you to not say that thing. It’s easier for you to avoid difficult conversations. It’s easier for you to brush it aside and pretend it’s not actually a big deal.
So when you’re wanting to lean out, lean in instead. Have a conversation, talk about it, and if you are in a relationship where you don’t feel safe enough to be vulnerable that way, then why the fuck are you in that relationship?
If you don’t feel safe to have those kinds of conversations, you may want to reevaluate why you’re in that relationship in the first place.
Even in my relationship now, things have come up for both of us because that’s normal. That’s part of relating; your partner is going to reflect parts of yourself that you may have kept buried for a really long time, and it’s going to trigger reactions in you that you might not have been expecting.
So many people think that the work happens before you meet your partner. And yes, there is work to be done, but the work doesn’t really start until you’re in the relationship, because those wounds were created in relationships. These wounds were created in relationships, and they need to be healed in relationship with other people.
But if you keep fucking leaning out every time there’s conflict, or you have a need that you want to be met that you never actually bring up, you’re just going to get more of the same.
Conscious relationships actually require you to lean in. They require you to do something different than you normally do. So it’s all well and good that you want a conscious relationship, that’s beautiful, but are you prepared for the responsibility of having a conscious relationship?
Second lesson from being in a conscious relationship: your needs are your responsibility, not your partner’s.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask your partner for anything. Many times, when you lean into this idea through personal development, it can turn into a situation where you think that if you have any needs for connection, intimacy, attention, love, admiration, etcetera, you should be able to meet those needs within yourself.
There is some truth to that; in a conscious relationship, you cannot be reliant on other people, but there’s also an element of knowing that your partner is there to help meet your needs.
Of course you have needs for attention and connection and validation and to be seen, to be heard, to be loved. And if you’re not feeling that from your partner, there’s a fucking issue.
As far as what this balance looks like in a conscious relationship, I remember having a conversation with Drew where he said, “We’re not responsible for each other’s needs, but we’re responsible to the relationship.” And I just thought that was such a beautiful way that he framed that, because it’s true. I’m not ultimately responsible for his needs, but I’m responsible to this relationship, and because I love him, I care about his needs and want to meet his needs to the best of my abilities.
But the thing about your needs being your responsibility is that you need to be able to ask for your needs. Because if you’re playing in the frequency of waiting on them to read your mind, you’re playing in a very immature, childlike state.
I used to play in that frequency, and I never got my needs met. Whose fault was that? Mine. I wasn’t asking directly for my needs to be met. I wasn’t saying, “Hey, this is what I would love. This is what I desire.” If you want your needs met, that requires you to be a big girl and say what you want, say what you need, and ultimately be okay if they can’t meet that need, depending on what it is.
If you’re both fighting for the victim position, your relationship will never last. If you are in a disagreement with your partner and you’re both stuck in your egos and you can’t take a timeout, you’re not going to go anywhere. You’ll stay at that impasse until one of you gives up the victim position, and honestly…you’re probably not going to. You’re going around in fucking circles and you’re both just trying to be self-righteous and not actually getting yourself in a state of curiosity.
If you want to create connection, you need to be in a state of curiosity about what was actually going on for the other person, not just you. Be willing to lay down the victim position to find out what’s happening in your partner’s head, and you might actually make progress.
Next conscious relationship lesson: if you aren’t doing shadow work, a conscious relationship truly isn’t possible.
If both of you are not aware of your ego, projections, triggers, your shadows, your concept of self, etcetera, a conscious relationship is not possible. How the fuck are you going to have a conscious relationship if you have next to no self-awareness, or your partner has next to no self-awareness?
If you don’t know this, my partner Drew is also a coach, so to us, getting into this relationship was a wake-up call for us both. We were requiring a lot more from each other than either of us had given or received in a relationship before, and it just completely shifted everything for us. Our relationship is on a whole different level because we’re able to consistently meet each other in the depths of self-development and evolution.
The next conscious relationship lesson I have for you: people-pleasing has zero place in a conscious relationship.
No matter what, in my conscious relationship, I will always speak my truth. I will ask for permission first before sharing it, or I will share it when I’m asked for my opinion on something, and I will deliver it with grace and tact and empathy, but I don’t dilute my truth just so it lands really nicely for him.
I make sure I’m conscious of how he may receive information and how he likes to have truths delivered. And I’m also very conscious about not emasculating him; not because of male fragility or anything like that, but because I care about him. I care about his heart. But I’m also committed to growth.
He does the same thing with me, too; if he sees me acting out of integrity, he’s going to fucking call me on it, and that is invaluable to me in a relationship. I want that in a relationship. That’s what makes our relationship so right, because he’s not afraid to say, “Hey, I think this is a blind spot for you. What I’m seeing does not fit what you say you value.” And then I clean it up, because he’s usually right.
I’ve been in relationships with people-pleasers and didn’t trust them at all, because I can only trust your “yes” as far as I can trust your “no.” So if you’re never saying no to me, then every time you say yes, I think you’re blowing smoke up my ass. Whereas with Drew, in our conscious relationship, we both have very strong boundaries around our time, our energy, and our emotions, so when we are saying yes, it’s never coming from a place of self-sacrifice; it’s coming from a place of generosity.
Next, building a conscious relationship requires a certain level of intentionality.
It is very easy to become complacent in any relationship. If you’re in a relationship, it requires you to show the fuck up, and I think so many relationships die because they stop putting in any fucking effort because they’re just so used to that Groundhog Day effect where everything is exactly the same every day. You end up getting used to sitting on the couch, getting Uber Eats, and watching fucking Netflix every night.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We love to do that. But we’re also intentional about switching it up every now and again to reconnect and prioritize intimacy.
So you need to put some fucking effort into your relationship. That doesn’t mean you carry the whole fucking relationship; your partner is also responsible to put effort into the relationship.
People like to say a relationship has to be 50/50…that’s not right. It has to be 100/100. You don’t put in 50% effort, period.
Next, there’s a difference between listening to someone and hearing them.
It’s really easy to listen. But if the other person was to ask, “What did I just say?” Could you repeat it to them? Because you actually have to hear them when they’re confronting you with something. You can’t be in your head thinking about your rebuttal and that’s it.
Hear them. Be there for them. Be empathetic. Put your shit aside. You’ll have your turn, but first, make sure you actually hear them, because that’s our basic core need. We want to be seen, we want to be heard. So it’s really important that you’re not just listening, but you’re actually hearing someone.
I cannot highlight this lesson enough: you need to have a relationship check-in at some point. Drew and I do a monthly relationship check-in, and it is an absolute non-negotiable for us. It’s hugely valuable to have a space where we can ask certain questions. It’s been an absolute fucking game-changer, because we don’t just talk about what isn’t working, but also what is working.
I hope you’re taking notes on these lessons, because truly, they are fucking invaluable. And if you’re curious about how a relationship check-in works, good news…you can experience it in real time in March when you purchase access to Relationship Revival, a 2-day workshop all about our monthly relationship check-in!
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”