We’re stronger together, but only because of who we are apart.
Our society is changing; hell, if we’re honest, it already has. We’re not partnering up and getting married because we don’t want to be alone, or because we need someone to financially care for us. We’re choosing people to be in a relationship with who truly challenge us and help us become our best possible selves.
Because a relationship is the best vehicle for self-growth.
It seems that we spend so much time discussing how we need to love ourselves before we love another (insert eye roll) and how we need to remain unattached to practically everything, that we forget that only in relationships do we get triggered in the very way that we need to encourage us to grow to the next level of our lives.
We are born living and loving at a basic level. As young adults learning about love and relationships, things felt simple. We chose people who were friends with our friends, who were cute, and who were good kissers—or was that only me? We entered relationships because they posed a certain level of convenience, not because they brought out the best in us.
But as we grow, we begin to need more from our partners than simply to check off the boxes that other people told us were important, and so begins our journey through the different levels of love and of knowing ourselves. Perhaps some of us love at one level our entire lives, but I’ve found that many of us long for a conscious relationship—one of the highest levels of love—so that we can use it to further our own growth.
It seems that in traditional relationships, in which the sole purpose is marriage and children, we are often schooled to let the “me” dissolve into the “we,” where we are no longer an individual but rather half of another entity. This sort of thinking is destructive because it encourages us to believe that what the team wants is always more important than our own individual needs.
Then there is the romantic relationship in which we take the drastic stance of not needing anyone—after all, we are often told that non-attachment is the key to a healthy relationship. This sort of thinking can be just as destructive as its opposite, because within it we operate under the false belief that we can actually get through life without needing anyone else.
When working with clients, I often jokingly say that none of us are born and dropped off into the wilderness to then care for and live by ourselves. Instead, our entire social system is based on the idea that relationships fuel our personal and professional development. We foster relationships with co-workers, family members, and friends because we all need one another—so why are we so scared to say that we need our lover?
The most crucial aspect of a conscious relationship is maintaining the “me” while admitting that we need the “we.” This means that while we don’t merge our names together or become one entity, we consider ourselves a team and make the team’s needs as important as our own.
That said, when it comes to moments of growth or transformation, those in conscious relationships recognize that individual needs have to come before team needs. This means that sometimes we will have to let our partner go off on their own to battle their own demons or unfinished story lines. It might mean that we bless them with time and space so that they can sort through the chaos of their own thoughts, knowing that their behavior isn’t a personal reflection on us, but rather something they need to experience on their journey.
By practicing this, not only are we able to maintain our own sense of self within a relationship, but the “we”—the team—is stronger because of it. A conscious relationship isn’t about two halves; instead, it’s about taking who we are separately, our whole flawed, beautiful self, and coming together with someone who complements what we lack.
None of us are meant to do life alone. None of us are meant to be everything and do everything. Healthy relationships are about letting down our walls and seeing how well our crazy can dance with another’s, and what it feels like to truly let someone in who not only lets us be ourselves, but also knows where to pick up when we leave off.
During this practice, our individual growth becomes essential for the relationship to flourish. We’re no longer with someone just to say we have a date for Friday night. Instead, we’re choosing to be in partnership with someone who can elevate us to a level where we recognize that our romantic relationship will only be as enriching as the relationship we have with ourselves. Developing a conscious relationship is less about some New Age theory and more about us realizing that we don’t have to give up who we are in order to be loved.
Everything in life is a practice, especially how we choose to love and understand within a conscious relationship, because we’ll never be perfect at it. None of us will ever reach an end point where we can no longer improve. The idea with this practice is to be real about where we are today and hopeful about where we want to be tomorrow.
And above all, it’s about realizing that the person we’re with should want the best for us. Not their idea of the best, but what truly nourishes our souls.
In conscious relationships, where both people are secure within themselves, there is no goal to the union other than to simply support one another because we know that we are only as strong as our greatest weakness.
It’s about loving one another for who we truly are, but also understanding how that unrestricted support can actually make us more of who we are.
And that is the best part about becoming a healthy “me” within a conscious “we.”
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman