By Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D. & Michelle Murrain, Ph.D.
Courtesy of GLAPN
“Are you interested in a conscious approach to lesbian dating and relationships?”
I asked that question over and over to the thousands of lesbians and queer women streaming by the Conscious Girlfriend booth at a recent Pride event.
A few said, “No!” and quickly walked on.
A few said, “Yes, absolutely. I try to do that already.”
But the majority said, “I don’t know. What exactly does that mean?”
As lesbian dating and relationship coaches and the founder of Conscious Girlfriend (www.consciousgirlfriend.com), we aim to support all lesbians and queer women: those who say “Yes,” those who say “I don’t know,” and even those who are tempted to just walk away.
If you’re already committed to conscious relationships, our work will help you apply the learning you’ve done elsewhere, as well as give you some powerful new lesbian-centric tools. Our framework is compatible with Buddhist practice, Non-Violent Communication, Landmark, 12-step work, therapy, and most other forms of healing and consciousness work, and it will help you integrate that work more fully in your dating and relationship life.
For many of us, intimate relationships are the final frontier. A lot of women have great lives in other ways, yet still struggle with old patterns in the dating and relationship arena. This was true for Michelle and me for a long time, too. (But now we have an amazing, deep, richly fulfilling long-term relationship and marriage.)
So if you don’t yet have the kind of relationship you long for, our most important message to you is: that can change! And the power to change it is in your hands.
If you’re not sure what a conscious approach to lesbian dating and love means, we’d love to introduce you to a step-by-step path to dating wisely and creating the kind of relationship you truly want. We call it “The 12-Week Roadmap to Conscious Lesbian Dating and Lasting Love.” Along the way, you’ll learn many skills and ways of being that will enhance all your other relationships, too, including your relationship with yourself.
Becoming what we call a “conscious girlfriend” will take some learning and effort on your part. It’s not magic, and it’s not instant. But it also doesn’t have to be all that hard.
In fact, if you add up the number of weeks, months or years you’ve already spent either unhappily single, getting over a breakup, or struggling with a painful relationship, you’ll probably see that the Conscious Girlfriend approach is actually far easier than what you’ve already been doing – and also brings you far more happiness in return for your effort.
Although dismantling old patterns and learning new skills can feel intimidating at first, you are definitely capable of it. We have tools to walk you through the process. And the rewards are well worth it!
Now, if you’re in the third category – someone whose immediate response to the question, “Are you interested in a conscious approach to lesbian dating and relationships?” would be to say “No,” and keep walking – I’m especially glad you’re reading this.
Since we started Conscious Girlfriend, we’ve spoken with many lesbians and queer women who have been so hurt and disillusioned by relationships that they’ve given up on love. They’ve concluded that lasting, happy relationships must just be a myth – or at the very least, must be possible only for other, luckier women.
When you’ve repeatedly tried to do something and it hasn’t worked, it does make sense to stop. As Albert Einstein said, the definition is insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
But rather than giving up on love altogether, another sane alternative is to get some education and training, so that you can acquire whatever skills you’re missing.
After all, you’d probably do that in any other area of your life. For instance, if you wanted to build a house, or learn to bake bread, or get good at doing the Argentine tango, you might take a class, watch some videos, find a mentor or teacher, or at least read a book.
Many things worth doing are hard to figure out on your own, yet completely learnable when you get the right guidance and support.
The truth is, if you don’t have the right skills, the house you build won’t be a good shelter, the bread you bake won’t rise, and your dance steps will be clumsy. Similarly, without the right skills, your relationships might feel good at first, but they’re likely to fall apart or cause pain within a few months or years.
But once you do have the right skills, relationships get much easier. In fact, having a happy, healthy, lasting relationship doesn’t have to be hard.
There are two reasons why most relationships are hard (and aren’t ultimately happy, healthy or lasting): 1) You’re not with the right person, and/or 2) You’re not yet the right person yourself. In other words, you don’t know how to fully hold onto yourself within a relationship, communicate and navigate differences in healthy ways, and build trust and intimacy.
But both of these problems are solvable. You can learn how to find and choose the right partner, and you can learn how to be the right partner, too.
Becoming A Conscious Girlfriend
In order to find and choose the right partner, and to be the right partner yourself, you need to become what we call a “conscious girlfriend.” This means becoming more conscious of all the many choices you make both in the dating process, and when you’re actually in an intimate relationship.
When you’re not conscious of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you end up operating on default or automatic pilot. This leads to doing things in ways that really don’t fit who you are or what you want, sometimes without even realizing it. You may be living out the script of your parents’ relationship, repeating your own patterns over and over, or doing what your partners want (or what you think they want – even while they’re trying to do what they think you want!)
You might be choosing women whom you have to take care of – and then feeling frustrated that you’re always taking care of them. (I used to do that.)
You might be trying to take care of your partners, or giving yourself up, in ways that don’t even feel good to the other person. (I used to do that, too!)
You might be stuffing your feelings – or blowing up at your partner – because you don’t know how to communicate your emotions and needs in healthy ways. Or you might be spending hours in exhausting, draining “processing” that never seems to get you anywhere. (We understand that pattern. One of Ruth’s ex-partners dubbed me “the processing queen…”)
You might be blaming her for whatever doesn’t feel good between you, or blaming yourself, or both, rather than taking responsibility for your needs and working constructively to get them met.
Most of the couples we coach have been doing one or more of these things – so both partners end up feeling hurt, frustrated, angry and exhausted, and neither one is getting what she wants. And many of the single women we coach have emerged from relationships with these kinds of dynamics, and feel wary of trying again.
The good news is that once you bring full awareness to the process of dating and love, you can learn to make the choices that truly serve your happiness and well-being.
What do we mean when we say “the right partner?” What factors make someone the right partner for you – or the wrong one?
And what’s really involved in healthy communication? What does it take to build trust, connection and intimacy, not just in the “honeymoon phase,” but over the course of years and even decades – so that rather than getting stale, love can keep on growing stronger?
How is it possible for two different people, with different needs and preferences, to both get what they want?
Why do so many women try so hard to make love work, yet end up hurting each other? And what’s the alternative?
We cover all of this and much more in the 12-Week Roadmap, an online group learning experience that includes written and audio lessons, group coaching calls, one-on-one coaching, a buddy system, a private Facebook group, and more. And we also cover as much of it as we can in the free resources available on our website, www.consciousgirlfriend.com.
But what we can tell you right now is that lasting, happy, healthy lesbian love is not a myth or an impossible dream. It’s realistic and achievable. It just takes learning how! Please visit www.consciousgirlfriend.com and join our community to learn more.
We’ll also be doing workshops in Portland October 30-November1! Get more info and sign up at www.consciousgirlfriend.com/portland.
Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D. is the author of eight books, including Conscious Lesbian Dating & Love. A writer, teacher and healer for over 30 years, she is a core faculty member at Ashland University. Michelle Murrain, Ph.D. holds degrees in Neuroscience and Theology, and has had a Buddhist meditation practice since 1990. She taught at Hampshire College for ten years, and has studied relationship coaching with Gay & Katie Hendricks, authors of Conscious Loving. Life partners since 2006, Ruth & Michelle live in Sonoma County, California. Since founding Conscious Girlfriend, they’ve helped thousands of lesbians and queer women learn to date wisely and love well! Visit them at www.consciousgirlfriend.com.