Conscious Relationships

Creativity, existentialism, Psychology, Spirituality

Great relationships uplift and empower you. They’re a place of refuge and nourishment, deep connection and understanding. They make life easier, not harder. 

However relationships are not for the faint-hearted. It requires super-human self-awareness, a willingness to have tough conversations, and a commitment to doing the work.

But the reward is a relationship that meets our most fundamental needs for security, love, and belonging, right up to our life-affirming needs for personal and spiritual development.

A conscious relationship is a relationship that is:

  • created purposefully, 
  • decisively, 
  • with intention. 

It requires:

  •  clarity and choice around how you want your relationship to feel, how you like to love and be loved, and what your boundaries and non-negotiables are. 
  • It is intentionally structured to support those needs and desires.

Relationships are no longer about simply teaming up to meet our basic needs for food, shelter, and security. Modern relationships go beyond biological needs and into the realm of the emotional and spiritual:

As we ask more of our relationships, our rising expectations lead to increased pressure, and create greater levels of dissatisfaction. 

But the relationships that get it right experience more happiness and fulfilment than ever before.

By their very nature, conscious relationships are not prescriptive. You’re not following someone else’s rulebook. You’re writing the rules for yourself.

This means that from the outside, one version of a conscious relationship will look entirely different to another.

Four Important Qualities of Conscious Relationships.

  1. Radical Responsibility
  2. Growth Mindset
  3. Presence & Appreciation
  4. Autonomy


Radical Responsibility

Also known as ‘owning your shit’.

Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:

  • The places where you can do better
  • The relationship skills you need to improve
  • Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.

Radical responsibility also means taking ownership of what you want.

Which is surprisingly difficult.

From the day we’re born we’re subject to the relentless conditioning of society.

This makes it hard to differentiate between what you really want, and what you’re supposed to want.

And even if you can identify what you want, we’re taught to prioritise other people’s needs above our own in order to be a ‘good person’ and a ‘good partner’.

Maintaining the status quo feels like the safer (but exhausting) option.

Yet this is how we ‘lose ourselves’ in relationships – by sacrificing our sense of self for the comfort and security of relationships that ultimately don’t serve us.

Instead, radical responsibility asks that you take a courageous stand for yourself – even in the face of rejection or misunderstanding. That you identify your non-negotiables and prioritise them over comfort, security and acceptance. That you admit to having needs, and take responsibility for what’s truly important to you.

This isn’t demanding your own way or refusing to meet your partner’s needs. It’s not making your partner responsible for meeting your needs either. (Being open to influence and learning how to collaborate are essential aspects of a conscious relationship too.)

But it does mean that you refuse to compromise your standards, long-term happiness, or fulfilment for fear of conflict or rejection.

Your needs, your happiness – your LIFE – are your responsibility. If you don’t prioritise them, no one else will.

  • Know your personal boundaries and needs
  • Validate your own feelings and emotions
  • Maintain your friendships
  • Prioritise YOU time, passion projects and hobbies
  • Be willing to risk rejection for what’s important to you
  • Learn to embrace healthy conflict


Growth Mindset

We rarely come into relationships with the best toolkit for success. As radical responsibility identifies – we each have our triggers, past wounds, and unhelpful ways of dealing with conflict.
But a growth mindset assumes we can learn to do better.
All relationships provide the perfect opportunity for those hidden hurts to arise. (That’s why no one will push your buttons quite like your partner does).
A conscious relationship doesn’t see this as a problem however, it sees this as the point.
In a conscious relationship your baggage is brought to the surface so that you can learn to heal and grow through it. It’s how your relationship helps you become a more loving, compassionate, and courageous version of yourself.
A growth-mindset acknowledges that there’ll be times of challenge and conflict in your relationship – but that’s not a bad thing. Anticipating and encouraging these natural relationship growth stages invites us into higher-order thinking and problem solving. It’s an invitation to collaborate, work as a team, and face these inevitable challenges together.

The problem with a growth mindset however, is that growth can easily become over-emphasised.

Most definitions of conscious relationships focus on ‘prioritising growth above all else’. Welcoming growth and change in relationships is healthy and necessary. Constantly seeking it out is not.

Over-prioritising growth will burn out a relationship just as quickly as avoiding it will. A relationship that is constantly ‘processing’ creates imbalance and unnecessary drama.
Despite the ideology pushed by popular personal development memes, you don’t always have to be pushing the envelope or stretching outside of your comfort zone. In secure, high-functioning relationships the comfort zone is prized and valued.

Connection, fun, intimacy, security, relaxation, healing, bonding – even growth – all occur in the comfort zone.

Yes, facing your fears and challenging yourself is important. And, having a safe, nurturing place to integrate those challenges is just as important.

Ultimately, a conscious relationship doesn’t need to force growth. Life already presents endless opportunities to grow. But by adopting a growth mindset you hold yourself to a higher standard in order to embrace that growth, and to move beyond limiting relationship patterns.


Presence & Appreciation

Also known as ‘owning your shit’.

Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:

  • The places where you can do better
  • The relationship skills you need to improve
  • Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.

Because there’s no toxic behaviour that can’t be unlearnt. No skill that can’t be improved. No challenge that can’t be worked out. So long as you’re willing to hold yourself to a higher standard and do the work.

The problem with this is that our unresolved relationship baggage tends to lurk in our blindspots. Which by its very name makes it hard to see.

Radical responsibility therefore requires some next level self-awareness:

You have to be willing to show up and grow up. To continually develop your emotional intelligence, your communication skills, and your ability to understand and empathise.

Radical responsibility means taking 100% ownership for your 50% of the relationship.