When I talk about conscious relationship, I am quick to point out the eight essential elements that are at its core. The interplay among these elements informs several different aspects of relationship, from the deep structures to the daily landscape. While no one of these elements is more important than any other, the emphasis or de-emphasis on each contribute to the relationship’s uniqueness and balance. For the moment, let’s take a look at three of these essentials: the social, the emotional, and the spiritual.
Each of us has a set of assumptions, expectations, and ideas about the way the world works that serve as a lens for how we see things; this is our worldview. The social aspect of relationship is, in part, the place where two partners’ individual worldviews intersect. The word ‘partner’ is important here because one of the keys to conscious relationship is partnership. More to the point, your perfect partner is the best friend you sleep with.
This social element often gets lost in the haze of romantic love. Relationships built on a strong social foundation, including things like clear communication, mutual respect, cooperation, and transparency, are more likely to weather the rough patches. When that social grounding is fragile to begin with, those rough patches can end up feeling more like shaky ground.
Closely tied to the social dimension is the emotional. The two most important features distinguishing the emotional element are availability and investment. Emotional availability is probably the more significant of the two because it reveals the balance between the needs of each partner and the availability of the other to meet those needs. With this in mind, the extent of perceived availability on the part of each partner can also be seen as a barometer of investment. Investment, in turn, impacts emotional intimacy, creating a cycle of investment, intimacy and availability that is the engine of the relationship.
These two aspects of relationship, along with their various facets of intersecting worldviews, investment, availability, and intimacy all hinge on two things: self-awareness and other-awareness. When we are self-aware, we have access to a certain degree of introspection. This allows us to ask ourselves not only what am I doing, but why am I doing? When we are other-aware, it provides us with a perspective on our partner’s feelings and emotions, creating a container of empathy. Self-awareness, other-awareness, and empathy are at the heart of the spiritual aspect of relationship.
Spirituality in relationship can be characterized as religious, higher states of consciousness, or both. In any case, what we are talking about is a higher level of relationship that comes out of a more deeply rooted connection. The depth of that connection is driven by the depth of each partner’s self-awareness, and how that is then brought to bear in the day-to-day of the relationship. As each partner’s introspective self-awareness deepens, it feeds his or her level of emotional intelligence, strengthening the framework of social connection. This energetic cycle provides the overall fabric of the relationship with strength, durability, and flexibility.