The 4 Qualities Of A Conscious Relationship, From A Marriage Therapist
Why do people struggle so hard to make relationships work?
Part of the reason is because we're entering into relationships for the wrong reasons. People find themselves unsatisfied in love because they lack a true purpose for being in it. The antidote? Moving toward what I like to call conscious relationships.
What is a conscious relationship?
A conscious relationship is a romantic relationship in which both partners feel committed to a sense of purpose, and that purpose is growth. Individual growth. Shared growth as a couple. Collective growth that makes the world a better place.
As of now, most people get into relationships to satisfy their own personal needs. This might work for a few years, but eventually the relationship fails us, and we end up unsatisfied as a result.
But when two people come together with the intention of growth, the relationship strives towards something much greater than gratification. The partnership becomes a journey of evolution, and the two individuals have an opportunity to expand more than they could alone. Deep satisfaction and long-term fulfillment arise as a result.
Qualities of a conscious relationship.
If you’re someone who feels called to take your experience of romantic love to the next level, below are four qualities that characterize what being a conscious couple is all about.
The conscious couple is not attached to the outcome of the relationship — growth comes first.
Not being attached to the outcome of the relationship does not mean you don’t care what happens. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t have fantasies about how the relationship will turn out.
What it means is, you’re more committed to the experience of growth than you are to making the relationship “work.”
The reality is, we’re here to grow. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When growth stops, we automatically feel like something’s gone wrong in the relationship. Because it has. Without growth, we aren’t fulfilling our soul’s purpose.
Unfortunately, relationships today tend to stifle growth more than enhance it. This is one of the main reasons we’re failing at romantic love.
We want our partners to act in a certain way, we repress ourselves to please to others, and soon enough, we feel small, oppressed, and puzzled about who we’ve become. This, inevitably, makes the relationship feel like a cage that we want to break out of. But the unfortunate truth is: we’ve caged ourselves.
The conscious couple values growth more than anything else because they know this is the secret to keeping the relationship alive. Even though growth is scary (because it takes us into the unknown), the couple is willing to strive towards expansion, even at the risk of outgrowing the relationship. Because of this, the relationship maintains a natural feeling of aliveness, and love between the couple does, too.
Each person in the relationship is committed to owning their shit.
Conscious couples know that we all have wounds from the past, and they understand that these wounds will inevitably be triggered, especially in a relationship. In other words, they expect to feel abandoned, trapped, rejected, overlooked, and any other shitty feeling that arises when we bond closely with another person.
Most of us still believe that relationships should only feel good, and when bad feelings surface, something has gone terribly wrong. What we fail to see in this situation is that these shitty feelings stem from our own faulty patterning! These issues are not caused by our partners; they’re caused by our own attachment issues.
The conscious couple is willing to look at their past and current issues in relationships because they know that by facing these beliefs systems, they can evolve into a new relationship reality. Dysfunctional patterns will dissolve, but only when we take responsibility for them, first.
All feelings are welcome, and no internal process is condemned.
In a conscious relationship, there’s room to feel anything. Not only that, there’s room to express those feelings and fantasies to your partner. This is edgy territory… it’s not easy to do. But it’s also one of the most healing things we can experience in a partnership
It’s rare to be completely honest about who you are, and to stretch yourself to let your partner do the same. You may not like what you hear; in fact, it may trigger the hell out of you. But you’re willing to be triggered if it means your partner can be authentic.
Like I already said, we’re used to molding and changing ourselves to please people we love because we don’t want them to stop loving us! This stifles the love out of our connections.
The only option is radical honesty: revealing parts of ourselves that are hard to share, and letting our partners do the same. This leads to feeling known, seen and truly understood — a combination that will automatically enhance your love.
The relationship is a place to practice love.
Love, ultimately, is a practice. A practice of acceptance, being present, forgiveness, and stretching your heart into vulnerable territories.
Sometimes we treat love like it’s a destination. We want that peak feeling all the time, and when it’s not there, we’re not satisfied with what the relationship has become. In my mind, this is missing the whole point of love.
Love is a journey and an exploration. It’s showing up for all varied nuances of your relationship and asking yourself, What would love do here? The answer will be different every time, and because of this, you’ll get to grow in ways you never have before.
The conscious couple is fiercely committed to being the embodiment of love. And through their devotion and practice, love shows up in their lives and relationship in ways they would’ve never imagined before.
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Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to relationships. She has worked with thousands of clients on improving their relationships with others and themselves, and she's also the instructor of the popular mindbodygreen courses How To Become The Most Attractive Version Of Yourself and How To Attract A Partner.