A New Model for Relating

A new mod­el for relat­ing — In order to have a bet­ter rela­tion­ship, you have to change how you are doing things. You need a new mod­el for relat­ing. So, here it is!

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Want to have the best rela­tion­ship ever?

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The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.

Note: If your present rela­tion­ship needs work, well… check out The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever. It’s my rela­tion­ships book… you’ll find all the help you need!

In order to have The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever., you must have a new mod­el for relat­ing. This requires rig­or­ous self-explo­ration, and open­ness, hon­esty, and curiosity.

Most­ly, because we’re lazy, we tend to repeat what doesn’t work. Or, we try out a tech­nique for a bit, and when there’s a bump in the road, we pull out old, non-func­tion­al ways of relating.

We get stuck in a rut, and blame the rut

Failed relat­ing fol­lows a pat­tern — the same one Sam and Sal­ly fol­lowed. There are not many vari­a­tions on this theme — get into a pri­ma­ry rela­tion­ship at a young age, floun­der about, get lousy results, end the rela­tion­ship, and then, do it again!

We do this in oth­er areas of our lives as well — for exam­ple, in aca­d­e­m­ic fields we don’t like. We don’t take the time to learn a new way — we just repeat what doesn’t work, and whine about our lousy results.

Here’s an exam­ple: I’m not so good at alge­bra. I got through it in High School and Uni­ver­si­ty, but nev­er real­ly fig­ured it out. I did enough to pass. I mem­o­rized a few pat­terns, and stud­ied old tests, and learned what I call “brute force” alge­bra. I have a few rules in my head, but absolute­ly no understanding.

Because I like to tor­ture myself, when Dar­bel­la (who is great at math) taught alge­bra to her 8th grade Math stu­dents, I’d occa­sion­al­ly try one of the more com­pli­cat­ed problems.

I’d just loop end­less­ly, try­ing to “sim­pli­fy the equa­tion.” Then I’d spend a bit of time mov­ing things from one side of the = sign to the other.

I did what I always do with alge­bra prob­lems. I guess, I try a few things I’ve tried before, and I hope that I will luck into an answer. Believe me, it is not a pret­ty sight.

Dar, on the oth­er hand, just looks at the prob­lem, applies log­i­cal and ele­gant steps, and solves it quick­ly. She can do this (and make it look sim­ple!) because she ‘gets’ what under­lies algebra.

Here’s how this applies to relationships

I don’t ‘get’ alge­bra, and I am unwill­ing to expend the effort to learn.

This is how most peo­ple deal with relat­ing. They learn a few ‘rules’ in ado­les­cence, typ­i­cal­ly from oth­er igno­rant peo­ple. Once they estab­lish a pat­tern of behav­iour, they apply the tech­niques out of blind habit and Ego, and think that, this time, they’ll get the ‘right’ answer.

They lack understanding, and may even be unaware how little they know about relating

Now, some­times, rarely, this “brute force, uncon­scious” approach does work, giv­ing one false hope. As I said, I passed alge­bra. I just nev­er got good at it, or under­stood it. For me, to this day, alge­bra is a misery.

Act­ing from “unaware­ness” is lim­it­ing, dis­re­spect­ful and leads back to the “I’m right and you need to see things my way.”

It’s a rule: if all I do is what I always do, plus cross my fin­gers, most­ly, all I’ll get is lousy results. If I want to suc­ceed, I must first deeply under­stand, and then apply, ele­gant solutions.

The crux of Elegant, Intimate Relating — a new model for relating

  • The ele­gant part is this: an ele­gant rela­tion­ship is both dynam­ic and flex­i­ble. There’s a flow — an ease. While there are dif­fer­ent roles to explore, noth­ing is rigid, and every­thing is available.
  • The inti­mate part is this: every­thing is out in the open, revealed, and hon­est­ly dis­cussed. It is all about truth­ful­ness, a relax­ation of bound­aries, and clear focus.
  • Ele­gant, Inti­mate Relat­ing is dynam­ic: while the method­ol­o­gy of relat­ing stays the same, there is accep­tance that “life” is con­stant­ly in flux. Emo­tions arise, and shift, and change. Roles shift, depend­ing on the needs and desires of the part­ners. Noth­ing is graven in stone.
  • Both part­ners are open and vul­ner­a­ble: every­thing is accept­ed as real, and all feel­ings are ful­ly felt and shared, with­out judge­ment, with­out try­ing to get your part­ner to behave some oth­er way.
  • Ele­gant, Inti­mate Relat­ing is Respect­ful: it’s rec­og­niz­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the worth of your part­ner. It is impos­si­ble to respect some­one for what he or she is going to do or be, some­day, if all is well and “the creek don’t rise.” Respect is acknowl­edg­ing the present worth of anoth­er per­son. There­fore, I can only “rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate” some­one right now.
  • Ele­gant, Inti­mate Relat­ing Requires Patience: it’s know­ing that all I can do right now is what I can do right now. Patience is the abil­i­ty to be present with things, sit­u­a­tions, and peo­ple — while ful­ly grasp­ing that every­one and every­thing is in flux. “Things are as they are, until they aren’t.”

Every­thing is com­plete at every stage, while at the same time is mov­ing with time toward a state of ‘more com­plete.’ This is a dif­fi­cult concept.

Think about build­ing a bridge. At every stage, each step — say, set­ting the pylons into the riv­er — is ‘com­plete’ as it pro­gress­es. When they are dig­ging the hole, that’s it — they are dig­ging. Then, mix­ing con­crete. Then, pour­ing con­crete. Each step is, in its moment, a whole. In terms of each step’s ‘bridge-ness,’ it is also part of that process.

Thus, how it is right now is what to focus on — not how you wish it was, nor about how it used to be. Ele­gant, Inti­mate Relat­ing is about liv­ing ful­ly in the present moment.

Elegant, Intimate Relating is All about Intent

Ele­gant relat­ing requires find­ing new ways of see­ing and pro­cess­ing what is happening.

This is best accom­plished by hav­ing a clue as to what I am try­ing to accom­plish (my Intent,) all the time. Oth­er­wise I will find that I am going off half-cocked.

So, if my goal is to relate with hon­esty and inti­ma­cy, any behav­iour that does not facil­i­tate this goal must be stopped as it emerges.

Exam­ple: Abso­lutist phras­ing (“You are [always, nev­er, every time, right wrong, etc.] doing…”) leads to fight­ing about whether the absolute is ‘true.’ It’s also lim­it­ing, dis­re­spect­ful, and leads back to “I’m right and you need to see things my way.”

Once I know this, I can stop myself from mak­ing absolute state­ments, and say instead, “I’m notic­ing [what­ev­er] and I won­der what’s going on for you.”

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tors will ask their part­ner, “What was your intent in ask­ing me that?” It’s also a legit­i­mate ques­tion for you to ask your­self. Just don’t stop too soon. Because intent is often not what you first think it is

Intent has to be expressed with total hon­esty. Hid­ing your inten­tions leads down a path we’d best avoid.

We’ll be flesh­ing out these con­cepts in the Tools Sec­tion, but I trust you’re get­ting an inkling about how dif­fer­ent The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever. is from a ‘nor­mal’ rela­tion­ship. We’re going to con­tin­ue to flesh out the con­cepts — next up — let’s talk about Dialogue.

The key to elegant relating is dialogue

Ongo­ing dia­logue is a hard choice, and is select­ed by per­haps 5% of cou­ples. Open, hon­est, vul­ner­a­ble dia­logue leads to a sense of alive­ness, vibra­tion and vibran­cy, and ener­gized liv­ing. Its char­ac­ter­is­tics are curios­i­ty, pas­sion, integri­ty, and co-creativity.

Wise souls take conflict personally

In oth­er words, they exam­ine them­selves — to their per­son­al par­tic­i­pa­tion — rather than plac­ing blame. The wise soul looks at his behav­iour — what­ev­er isn’t work­ing — and choos­es to do some­thing different.

Let­ting go of the need to be right is a vital part of ele­gant liv­ing, and essen­tial for Ele­gant, Inti­mate Relating.

Under­stand­ing that dif­fer­ences are dif­fer­ences of opin­ion, not fact, is the mark of the begin­ning of matu­ri­ty. Let­ting go of the need to be right allows me to become curi­ous about who my part­ner is, and how he / she oper­ates — dif­fer­ent­ly than I do, yet nev­er wrong.

A bit about fighting

I nev­er want to fight with my part­ner again!” is unrea­son­able. A fight, in a sense, is end­ing up on the oth­er side of an issue you and your part­ner are pas­sion­ate about. Pas­sion is good!

Things go off the rails when either or both par­ties are nei­ther aware nor present.

Here’s the story of all ‘bad’ fights

Per­son A notices some­thing. It could be a “thing,” or behav­iour. Let’s say it’s an unwashed cof­fee cup.

The cof­fee cup has no mean­ing — it’s neutral.

1st fork in the road:

Per­son A could say, “There’s an unwashed cof­fee cup. I’ll wash it.” No fight.

Or, Per­son A could say, “Geez, you for­got to wash the cup! You’re a lousy house­keep­er, and besides, you do that to annoy me!” Hand grenade.

The first response is “what I am notic­ing.” The sec­ond response is: “I have a belief that my part­ner dis­re­spects me, and this is anoth­er example.”

Per­son B now has the ball.

Per­son B might bite. “Up yours. I’m not the only one around here with hands, you know. Besides, I pick up for you all the time, and don’t bitch about it. I’m sick of your atti­tude.” Per­son B lobs the hand grenade back.

Or, Per­son B could say, “I notice you seem to be upset­ting your­self, and I’m curi­ous as to your inten­tion.” Attempt to neu­tral­ize, and enter dialogue.

There is always a choice!

The rest of this book is about learn­ing to pay atten­tion to our process, how we upset our­selves, and how we talk. Fights start because both par­ties get caught up in prov­ing the oth­er per­son is either wrong, an ass, or both. Fights are short-cir­cuit­ed when one of the par­ties choos­es to stop the dra­ma, and becomes curious.

This is done through dialogue

We’re alive, I believe, to learn who we are — to expand and deep­en our self-knowl­edge. We must do this in dia­logue, because we are so good at self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tion — oth­er­wise known as lying to our­selves. With­out dia­logue, we con­tin­ue to make our crap­py lives a mis­ery — all the while focussing on what the oth­er per­son (or the sit­u­a­tion) is ‘doing’ to us.

Elegant dialogue has several characteristics

Read more in the book!

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