San Francisco Bay Area Love and Relationship Coach Michele Fabrega helps her clients find the connection and intimacy they desire in their relationships. Michele became a Love and Relationship Coach in 2012 and has worked with couples and individuals to rekindle or find new love. With a playful and curious approach, Michele helps her clients discover what they need to feel happy and nourished in their relationships and how to communicate that to their partners.
What is your role as a love and relationship coach?
As an ally and a guide, I help an individual or a couple tune in more deeply to what they want, discover what is truly important to them, and then communicate that clearly, honestly, transparently and with love to their partner or potential partner. I also help people listen more deeply and develop their capacity to respond rather than react to what another person is doing or saying, or not doing or saying. Another component is to help people develop their capacity to give and receive love and to learn to love themselves more fully. Sometimes, I’m helping a client turn more attention to themselves and see how they can be happier by tuning into their own aliveness.
Tell us about how you found this career path and why you decided to become a coach?
What really drew me to relationship coaching was the challenges I had in my love relationships. I was unhappy in love during my single years, and although my marriage went well for a while, we had a lot of difficulties during our eighteen-year relationship. I discovered that I was a big part of the problem; this was humbling, fascinating and empowering.
I went through an excavation and self-discovery process that enabled me to feel happier and more comfortable in my own skin and be more authentic with others. In 2010, I began meditating daily and I reconnected with my love of dance. As I developed self-awareness and communication skills, I decided to get certified as a Getting Real Coach and pursue other training so I could support others to have the nourishing relationships they desire. I’m now divorced and happily re-partnered, my former husband is happily remarried and together, we’re co-parenting our teenage daughters. I love helping others find the kind of connection they want or deepen and expand their current relationship.
What dating challenges do you see people experiencing during the pandemic, and how have you been able to help your clients navigate them?
Singles need to adjust how they meet new people, manage getting acquainted with a specific person, and if meeting in person, how both parties can stay healthy. I think the pandemic requires people to communicate more honestly and transparently, facilitating building trust earlier in the dating process. I’m helping people to listen to their intuition and ascertain whether they feel comfortable continuing to meet a dating partner in person. Often, people have trouble setting clear boundaries with others, so this is something we work on. I believe we teach others how we want to be treated, and if someone isn’t honoring our requests, then we need to share our concerns. If they aren’t responsive to us, it’s probably time to move on.
When a couple is having a relationship problem, how do you help them work through their issues?
It comes down to deep listening. I give each of them the uninterrupted space to share what they are feeling and thinking. I help them clarify things. I help them express themselves more skillfully so that their partner can take it in and understand their point of view. As humans, we can be triggered by others and have a strong reaction in the present, yet the reaction is usually due to a similar past hurt. When we learn about our past hurts, we can develop more self-compassion. When we learn about our partner’s past hurts, we can develop our compassion for them. This builds trust, connection, and intimacy. The communication skills I help couples develop become part of their tool kit to navigate future challenges more effectively so that they can be allies rather than adversaries.
Ending a relationship can be an unpleasant experience. How does having a coach help individuals or couples through this trying time?
Ideally, ending a relationship is a mutual decision. Of course, it doesn’t always go this way, yet even if one person initiates the split, it’s beneficial for both to have some closure. For a married couple planning to divorce, any time spent understanding the end of the relationship and communicating clearly and kindly about the issues and how they want to move forward, especially if they have children, is time, attention and money well spent. This will help pave the way for a more harmonious, less litigious, and therefore less expensive divorce as well as improve their future relationships with others. Yes, it is possible to divorce cooperatively and collaboratively.
There is still great value for couples who aren’t married in learning from the relationship, together and separately, to recognize patterns and behaviors they can do differently in their next relationship. Although this is often a time when people want to blame their former partner, one is better off looking at what they can learn for themselves to make this a generative and empowering experience.
How do you use your personal dating experience to help others navigate dating?
I dated for nearly two decades, in my 20s and 30s and then again in my mid-40s to early 50s. A lot of what changed for me is knowing myself better, loving and accepting myself more so I could have an open, positive and curious outlook meeting others. I also became more skillful in my communication, including regulating my emotions. Our attitude, including the way we speak to ourselves, really impacts our experiences with others and how others perceive us.
When I’m working with a client who is single, I’m looking to help them enjoy the process of discovery, both learning about themselves and learning about others. Often, people get discouraged; they feel hurt when someone they like doesn’t feel the same way. I help them navigate the inevitable ups and downs and remind them to embrace their specialness and uniqueness. We also look together at other parts of their life to see if there are changes they need to make so they are happier with themselves.
What do you enjoy most about helping couples become more connected and intimate?
It is deeply rewarding to help a couple reconnect. I like helping couples communicate more deeply so they can truly see and appreciate each other. When people communicate at a deeper level, they can tap into their truth and vulnerability, revealing a preciousness palpable to both partners.
It’s not always easy to notice our blind spots, but as I’m listening to a client, I invite them to look deeper at their beliefs or interpretations of events and experiences. This inquiry encourages them to notice a more fundamental truth that often softens the tension between them and their partner. I worked with a client who was frustrated and angry with his wife for not attending to her medical condition. He nagged her for months about it. I helped him explore why this mattered to him, and he recognized and then shared with his wife his love and concern for her. She was deeply touched and impacted; this made all the difference for them.
What activities bring you and your partner together creating a greater connection between you?
We spend a lot of time talking, sharing and supporting each other through challenges. We make time to just “be” together; we’ll lay down next to each other on the couch, holding each other close, talking if we feel like it, or being in silence together. We’ll watch comedy and come up with some new material to riff on and be playful and silly. We enjoy preparing and eating delicious meals together while listening to music. We meditate together. We take walks nearly every day, often at sunset. We take turns just receiving a sensual massage from the other. On weekend mornings, we linger in bed.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?
This year, we plan to hike in the woods and make a special dinner at home. Dave is a great cook and makes delicious margaritas, too. Of course, we mix in a lot of affection and kissing and make time for other sensual and sexual play!
By Eva Barrows