Can we be in a long-term relationship and stay committed to reinvention? If so, can we do it alongside our partner? Yes and YES—here are 12 ways to start.
*For the optimal reading experience and to allow to words to penetrate, Dr. Rachel recommends listening to this musical accompaniment while reading.
As human beings, we are primed for growth.
Expansion is a sign of health and reinvention allows for the movement of energy to feel optimally well. Stagnant energy often leads to feeling stuck in ourselves, our lives, and in our relationships. Growth is good and we should all be striving toward evolving in ourselves every day.
Growth is something we can rely on experiencing through mindfulness and awareness practice, but at what cost? Personal evolution is freeing and critical, but not always easy and often impacts our experiences in relationships. When we change within, things outside of us change too. Personal enhancement means an unraveling of what was. Often times it’s a paradigm shift and though there are many powerfully delightful elements that it inhabits, it can also feel unsettling and destabilizing. This can feel scary, which is why so many people stay stuck and small, fearful of change despite its ultimate glory. Growth is augmentation, and that takes work, effort, and skill to navigate.
When you’re doing it alongside someone else, even more is required to negotiate.
What does it mean to be in a long-term partnership and to grow together alongside one another? How can you assure your growth process is aligned with that of your partner’s? And what do you do if you realize it isn’t?
One of the most exciting things about growth is that it offers a reinvention of your sense of self.
Being conscious of who you are and how you can continue to expand is thrilling in its foundation and invigorating in its application. Discovering new parts of yourself, challenging yourself to expand beyond what had previously felt limiting, and exploring novel places and activities invigorates the spirit—even better when you can share this type of elevation alongside your most beloved friend and lover.
We all want to be able to grow in ways that are meaningful and fulfilling with whoever it is we’ve chosen to settle down with. At the very least, we need to be understood and seen by our partner and given whatever space we need to pursue our change process. It raises the questions, does settling down with one person over the long-term mean stagnation? How can you be sure that change will be something that deepens and enriches the relationship instead of causing it to rift and tear?
Settling down with one person has the potential to create even more opportunity to expand and explore because so often in our intimate relationships we are confronted with the parts of ourselves that require the growth we most need. Our partners serve as mirrors to our parts that need nurturance, development, and continued healing.
For congruent growth between you and your partner, I recommend the following 12 steps. These suggestions will ensure a reinvention that feels both fun and alive:
- Invite each other in on the change process and what it means for you individually and as a unit. Do this through communication, daily check-ins, joining each other’s activities and also giving space for autonomy.
- Switch up the paradigm. Get out of the familiar routine, explore a new town, or take a new class together. Welcome surprises.
- Write down your intentions for your own growth and how you desire to amplify the relationship. Express how each of you can support each other in that place.
- Stay fluent in communication about what your needs are and how they’ve changed.
- Commit to touching base about this reliably.
- Maintain curiosity. Don’t expect that you know who your partner is or what they’re feeling. You and your partner are always growing and expanding through your mindfulness practice, and staying curious and compassionate will help foster safety as the relationship evolves. It’ll also contribute to a feeling of excitement that this person you love so much is still new to you. There’s always more to learn and aspects of their spirit to get to know and understand.
- Foster flexibility in the relationship: be willing to experiment with rules and roles.
- Switch it up, allow for the movement, and take responsibility for your own experience of growth. Routine can help contain but it can also contribute to a rut in romance, so be willing to explore, adventure, give space, and stay open.
- Don’t expect more from your partner than you expect from yourself. Meet each other as fully evolved humans who can match each other’s needs and energy. Stay committed to your alignment and be willing to go with the flow when things feel off.
- Don’t catastrophize the ebbs. In long-term partnership, there are going to be challenges, conflicts, and lows. If you’re sure this is your life’s partner, don’t let the ebbs mean more than they do. It may be a sign the relationship is ready for the next phase of its development. There will likely be work to do there so allow yourself to stay conscious of what comes up around it. Awareness of the ebbs is what matters. Worrying about its meaning is less productive and likely not to be supportive of what the relationship is most in need of during those times.
- Remind yourself what’s personal and what isn’t, and stay connected to the preceding recommendations to ensure safety between you both.
- Get support outside of the relationship. Your partnership is a big, important, primary part of your life and there can be a lot of pressure put on that—especially during the times when it’s in its phase of reinvention. Does it warrant your time, attention, focus, presence, and energy? Of course! That said, you also need a reprieve. Time away from it with others who can act as a sounding board. Relying heavily and solely on your partner to offer you everything you desire is problematic and faulty in its foundation, so make sure you’re connected to people, places, and experiences that enliven you outside of the relationship. The best gift you can give to your partner and your relationship is your own fulfillment, sense of meaning, and happiness in and of yourself.
Even if times feel trying, the very fact that your relationship is in a state of reinvention and expansion is a sign of its health and vitality! Although it may not always feel easy, recognize that this is a profound opportunity to cultivate more mindfulness, honor your own process and that of your partner’s, and let the dance deepen your bond.
Trust you can and will grow alongside one another together, then do whatever it takes to live aligned with that belief, desire, and value.