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A New Model for Relating — the third of three arti­cles describ­ing my book, The. Best. Relationship. Ever.


In This Moment

As I promised, here’s the last of 3 articles that are sample chapters from my relationships book, The. Best. Relationship. Ever. Enjoy!

If you’re look­ing for a part­ner that “fits you,” you owe it to your­self to read my re-issued book. Find Your Perfect Partner It’s avail­able as a Kindle book here, for $2.99 US. Two of my other books, This Endless Moment and Half Asleep in the Buddha Hall, are also avail­able as Kindle books, same price. Those two are also avail­able from Amazon as paper­backs.

The easi­est way to check out all of the books is to go to our publish­ing site, The Phoenix Centre Press.


Chapter Three: A New Model for Relating

Here’s a sample of another chapter of The. Best. Relationship. Ever.

In order to have The. Best. Relationship. Ever., you must change your way of 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

  • 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!


Make Contact!

 

So, how does this week’s arti­cle sit with you? What ques­tions do you have? Leave a comment or ques­tion!

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