Living by Design or Default: Dating, Sexuality, and Relationships

Today we launch the Conscious Living Series composed of visually enjoyable, to the point, life-altering booklets. The first three booklets, Conscious Choices (A Woman-Affirming Guide to Dating), Conscious Sexuality, Conscious Relationship ($6 each, $15 for all three) were inspired by my own experience of waking up and by hundreds of conversations and vulnerable experiences shared in women’s circles over the past 25 years. The stories that motivated me to complete the first three booklets express truths rarely acknowledged even in women’s groups.

Some of us don’t have the words to express our experiences. Others of us have been conditioned to accept the way things are without questioning. When we feel uncomfortable we are much more likely to conclude that something is wrong with us, and to either ignore our discomfort or pursue remedies for our perceived flaws.

I met Sally in the dorm at a retreat center. The conversation turned to sexuality. She shocked us by the following expression of her frustration: “Iʼm 26 and I’ve already figured out that most men will do anything to be sure their sexual needs are met. The vagina is what they want. I’ve yet to experience a date where the man doesnʼt at some point start the predictable moves toward ‘getting some.’ Itʼs frustrating.” As we shared with her, in a way she wished her mother had been able or willing to do, she was encouraged to remain loyal to herself, regardless, and said, “Through this conversation, I now know that men do exist who’ve moved beyond the “getting some” stage, and I’ll only date them.” She woke up to her own responsibility to know what she wants and to let go of what doesn’t work for her!

Forty-something Jennifer chimed in, “As I look back Iʼm ashamed of how many times I faked orgasm with male partners. Most of them had no idea how to satisfy me, so I put up with them pushing me around like a piece of furniture to set up the perfect setting for their release. I never once told the truth. So they believed they were perfect lovers because I enabled them to think that.” Through our informal circle sharing, she too became aware of her responsibility to tell the truth about her experience and to make clear to partners which sexual style worked for her. She announced, “No more fake orgasms!”

Fifty-something Celine shared her experience in a circle of women, “I left a relationship because I finally realized that the man I was dating only wanted sex. He kept a lid on his frustration and anger when I asked to be held or told him that I was too tired for sex—until one day, when he could no longer hide his obsession. When I asked him for some affection, he became angry, jumped out of bed, and slammed the door on his way out. I was petrified. I broke up with him that week.” She was encourage by the honest sharing and now knows she’s not alone.

Married Celeste opened up about a situation faced by many women, yet rarely spoken aloud: “My husband went into moods almost weekly. He became distant and irritable. This was very painful. I asked him if his moods were related to the frequency of our sexual intercourse. He told me that he expected regular sex from his partners. His expectation shut me down. We saw a counselor who challenged my husband to manage his own emotions and needs, and stop looking to me for release. When I read about the difference between process and destination oriented sexual styles, I felt encouraged. I’m not frigid. I’m not crazy. Now we must decide if the differences in our sexual styles mean the end of our marriage. Taking responsibility for what I want and need is serious business!”

Louis and Monica attended the “Adam & Eve Make Peace” workshop for couples. They shared their inspiring experience as the reason they wanted to practice the “Making Peace” Intimacy Practices offered in the workshop and in the Conscious Relationship booklet: “How sad that the title Men are From Mars. Women are From Venus assumes that so much distance exists between men and women. We thought something was wrong with us because distance is not our experience. We share many of the same feelings and responses to life. Growing up, we thought this closeness could only be experienced with friends of the same gender. Yet weʼve always been each otherʼs best friend.”

These women and couples, and our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces were in my mind and heart as I prepared the first three booklets in the Conscious Living series. Sexual intimacy is not the focus of these booklets, yet it is boldly addressed. I emphasize it here in this blog because so little is written to support women, of whatever age or relationship-status, to sort through their sexual attitudes and responses. The resources contained within the booklets to evaluate dates, trust our own wisdom, reclaim our own sexuality, and co-create peace-full relationships are deeply life-affirming, positive, and wise.

The word conscious means: known to oneself, awake to one’s own existence, aware of what one is doing, and aware of one’s sensations, thoughts, reactions, and surroundings. The first three booklets invite you to live a conscious, mindful life in the area of relationships—pursuing them, evaluating them, and maintaining them. If we don’t consciously design our lives, by default we will automatically fall into the patterns and habits shaped by our socialization.

Twenty-six year old Sally wished her mother had listened to her dating experiences and frustrations, and then been able to share the wisdom she heard that night at the retreat center. She told us that she doubted whether her mother had ever explored her own sexuality. She felt her mom and dad were going through the motions because so much had been unspoken, unaddressed between them through the years.

Inspired by Sally’s longing, share these three booklets with your daughters, nieces, and friends, and yes, even with your mother. If you’re not quite sure what to say to them about sexual intimacy, healthy dating, conscious relationships, read the booklets, and then give them to your loved ones. With your purchase of one booklet, you can give another copy away. With you purchase of all three, you can give one of each away! Purchase all three booklets here for $15.

Conscious Choices: A Woman-Affirming Guide to Dating

Description: Receive support to stay awake and aware during the dating experience, trusting what you see and sense, and making wise choices. Includes the “The Twenty Promises” for women of all ages and important reflections to consider after each date. Imagine a woman who is awake and aware. A woman who pays attention, trusts what she sees and senses, and makes good choices. Who remains loyal to herself no matter what. Imagine yourself as this woman.

Excerpt: “During the first month of getting to know a new friend or potential lover, reflect on each encounter in your journal. Rather than guessing what he or she may be feeling or thinking, notice your own feelings and responses. After each encounter, ask yourself:
1. “How did I feel in his/her presence?” Underline or highlight the words that best describe your feelings. (List in booklet)
2. “What part of my body felt energized during the encounter?” My mind expanded. • My heart opened. • My genitals tingled.
3. “What part of my body felt depleted during the encounter? My stomach tightened. • My ears felt assaulted. • My shoulders hurt.
“From a place of fullness, we look, sense, and determine what works for us and what doesnʼt. Our choices are wiser today because we trust what we see and sense. We trust our own “deeper wisdom.” We choose graceful relationships that deepen in satisfaction without depleting us. We choose friends and partners willing to develop the necessary relationship skills to navigate lifeʼs challenges. We choose friends and partners who take responsibility for their own emotional, spiritual, and practical needs, and have a fantastic circle of support and maintain it.”

Purchase “Conscious Choices: A Woman-Affirming Guide to Dating” Here

 Conscious Sexuality: Reclaiming our Birthright

Description: Receive inspiration to embrace your own erotic energy and sexual style. Includes the popular “Know Your Sexual Style” inventory and “The Smile of Love” chakra meditation. Imagine a woman who embraces her sexuality as her own. A woman who delights in pleasuring herself. Who experiences her erotic feelings and sensations without shame or guilt, and expresses them with courage and self-respect. Imagine yourself as this woman.

Excerpt: “It may take years, but eventually we find our way into a therapistʼs office with our current partner or into a womenʼs circle with our disappointment, questioning the sexual script weʼd taken for granted. Awakened from our trance by divorce, memory, or the recognition that weʼd been faking pleasure for decades, we acknowledge that the traditional script doesnʼt serve us, that thereʼs got to be more to it than 4-6 seconds of pleasure, and then sleep. Weʼre encouraged to take responsibility for our truth, and slowly we come home to our own sexuality. Without shame, we bring a process-oriented understanding of sexuality to our partnerships. This understanding moves us beyond the performance orientation of the culture. It includes the expression of the full range of feelings that accompany every intimate relationship, feelings of warmth and caring, anger and passion, tenderness and support.”

Purchase Conscious Sexuality Here for $6

Conscious Relationship: Adam & Eve Make Peace

Description: Learn the yoga of love by practicing the “Making Peace Intimacy Practices” based on the popular “Imagine Lovers” poem. Cultivate presence, gratitude, and peace within your relationship. Imagine lovers who share a practice of presence and reflection. Who stay awake to the essence of their love. Gratitude for All That Is fills their shared experience.

Excerpt: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to deepen your intimacy by developing new habits of togetherness, by turning toward each other regularly to practice the “Making Peace Intimacy Practices” for couples. The ultimate salvation of the world depends upon developing a new kind of balance in which women and men come together to offer their combined strength, wisdom, and compassion in service of humankind. As couples find their way to a sacred meeting place beyond right and wrong, blaming and shaming, one-up and one-down, the world becomes a safer, saner place for all of us. Join us in making the world a saner, more peaceful place for all of us by including seven “Making Peace” Intimacy Practices in your shared life. Consider them your Yoga of Love.”

Purchase Conscious Relationship Here for $6

Patricia Lynn Reilly is the founder of Imagine a Woman International and BAB Coaching and Publication Services. If you’re inspired to take the next step with your book project, visit If you’re ready to author your own life, business, ministry, or self-understanding, visit for inspiration, opportunities, and support. If you would like to become certified to facilitate our 6 woman-affirming experiences, visit here for certification details.

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