Conscious relationships: the 4 key aspects

Different ways to develop the habits of conscious relationships
Credit: Julian Myles

Being engaged in a conscious relationships means that your relationship contains specific elements and motivations. Now, there are a lot of good reasons to be in a partnership. I love that my partner Angela will make silly faces at me whenever I ask and that there are always cuddles available.

However there is a distinction between partnerships that are just relationships, and ones that are conscious relationships.

Being in a conscious relationship has nothing to do with your paradigm (monogmous, poly, relationship anarchist, etc). It has nothing to do with whether you raise kids together or not.

The essence of a conscious relationship is threefold:

The relationship serves your personal evolution.

The relationship serves your partner’s personal evolution.

You both honor the truthful evolution of the relationship itself.

To understand this more specifically, below are the 4 indicators of a conscious relationship, and how to practice each aspect.

The 4 aspects of conscious relationships

1. In conscious relationships, you recognize that your relationship is your most potent portal into healing and self-knowledge

To consciously relate is to recognize that a relationship is more than just a person who you love (though that is valid in itself), it is a space that draws out all of your deepest psychological patterns, and an opportunity to heal them. 

When you open your heart to another person, trust them fully, and hide nothing, you are inviting out your trauma, your trust issues, and your insecurities. And with the love and support of your partner, you can shine a healing light on all these wounds.

In this way, conflict isn’t a bad thing to be avoided. It can be a playground for growth, relating, and healing.

How to practice this:

The next time you or your partner gets triggered, or you get in a conflict with each other see if you can switch from the paradigm of “let’s get through this as soon as possible” to “what is in here for us to learn about ourselves and to heal?” 

Just this mindset shift will open the doors to new possibility.

2. A conscious relationship prioritizes honesty above all else.

To be in a conscious relationship is to always tell the truth about everything

If you feel scared at how much your heart is opening to your partner, tell them. 

If you notice that you have doubts about the relationship, tell your partner.

If the way your partner washes the dishes annoys (or endears!) you, tell them.

When you prioritize honesty above all else, you will get to the truth of your relationship.

As a result, you can allow for each other to evolve most truthfully and the relationship to evolve most truthfully. 

If right off the bat you have imagined your entire future with your partner – from number of kids to color of picket fence – take a pause. There’s nothing wrong with having a vision for your future together. But if you try to cram your partner into your mold of how life should look, then you are not allowing the true form of the relationship to emerge as it wants to.

How to practice

Ask yourself “what have I hidden from my partner?” See what happens if you share it with them


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3. In conscious relationships you recognize that relationship is a practice

To be conscious in relationship means you are constantly in practice of how to love more deeply, open your heart wider, communicate more clearly, and listen more empathetically.

It’s important to remember that In relationship, just like in life, you’ll never finally get “there.” There is no “there” to get to. You’re in relationship with your partner right now. So enjoy it right now, and bask in its perfection. 

Keeping this in mind, you can practice without being an insatiable hungry-ghost. There are no limits to how deep you can go with your partner. How well you can know each other. How magical your physical connection can be. 

If your relationship is on cruise control for too long, it’ll start to stagnate. Relationship is like water. Moving water is healthy water, stagnated water creates cesspools.

How to practice

Check out Video 5 of this series for ideas and examples on how to practice in a relationship.

4. Conscious relationships are interdependent. Not independent. Not codependent

If a relationship is too independent, it means that both partners avoid leaning on each other, opening up, asking for support, and allowing themself to be impacted by each other. This type of  distancing is usually fear-driven. This is not a form of conscious relationship, because it’s really the act of avoiding relationship.

If the relationship is codependent, it means that each partner is dependent on the other person for their sense of self-worth. This is unideal, because it disempowers each person.

Years ago I spent a lot of time crafting a beautiful hand-written card for my former partner. When I gave it to her, she liked it, but it didn’t seem to be the top highlight of her week. As a result I felt insulted. My self worth was hinged on her feeling good because of me. 

Codependent relationships contain implicit contracts. Such as: if I do something nice for you, you’ll become happier, and my worth will increase. Or, you need me to provide for you, and your need for me is what gives me self worth.

An interdependent relationship means that both partners are willing to be vulnerable, and get their needs met by each other. However, neither partner needs the other one for their own sense of self-worth. 

In interdependent relationships, boundaries are celebrated. If your partner needs alone time, or doesn’t want to engage sexually right now, it means they are empowering themself. And it means you can respect both your partner and their boundaries without feeling like your worth is being attacked because of their self-reliance.

How to practice

If you feel like your relationship is too independent, see if you can ask your partner for help in ways you normally wouldn’t.
“Can you help me talk through this challenge?”
“Can you help me make my lunch for tomorrow?”

Let yourselves lean on each other.

If you feel like your relationship is too codependent, practice what it’s like to be kind to your partner regardless of their reaction. Cook them dinner, and just notice your internal reaction to however they react.

Make your relationship more conscious

See if you can use these tips to bring more consciousness to your own relationship. Remember, there is no ceiling!

And it’s important to note that partnerships go through many phases. In some phases your partner will be your main source of growth in your life. But in other phases they may be a place for support, love, fun, or escape from the jungle of life. Relationship is many things – a growth portal being just one.

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