Conscious relationships: not a numbers gameFri 27th August 2021
Many people think about non-monogamy or poly in terms of numbers: numbers of partners, play friends, lovers. This can be a helpful rule of thumb but it can also get in the way of seeing the truth of people’s life, especially when there’s still so much social, and internalised, shame and stigma around sex, desire and relationships.
In thinking about this, it seemed helpful to highlight what conscious relationships are. There’s also this great piece on the crappy ways in which people use ideas of non-monogamy.
Conscious relationships are all about:-
agreeing the boundaries and nature of all our connections, e.g. what do we like to do together, how often/where and, also, what feelings do we have for each other: is it affection, friendship, love, family/kin feelings? Are they growing, shifting or lessening?
discussing those boundaries and connections with those that are affected by them
being honest about emotional capacity / time and energy
prioritising our own feelings and needs (self-determination is very different to selfishness)
being aware of attachment behaviours and how they affect our actions (such as: people pleasing, avoidance, anxious attachment) – building new connections of any sort very slowly helps with this!
acting based on core values. Mine are honesty, authenticity, respect and kindness. I gave a TEDx talk on this idea, that’s here.
at the centre of conscious relationships is the idea of change. Many people enter open or non-monogamous relationships thinking that that means relationships can last for forever. And they might! But, our feelings and needs change and that’s okay too. Being present to our relationships in the now is all that ever matters.
I like to think about relationships, of all kind, in terms of activities shared and where our feelings are in the now. So, you might have a lover who you’re seeing less of now than you were but who is still your favourite person to catch movies with, a friend who is your emotional rock, a sibling who is your work mentor, a play partner who also shares your love of books/anime/pick a hobby 🙂
What does thinking about your relationships in this way bring up for you?