Deciding the baseline for creating an elegant relationship starts with knowing yourself and then stating your choice. Here’s an example of how to do that, using the Communication Model as a basis.
Over the years, I’ve posted multiple riffs on Communicating, and How to Use the Communication Model
and I usually point the The Haven Communication Model as a very reliable tool. For what, you ask?
Starting, developing, and maintaining a deep and intimate relationship.
I’m labouring over a relationships book—we’ll see “if and when.” I redesigned the Haven version of the chart a bit, (it’s above, albeit a bit covered by the title text…) as my belief is that the “Action” component is more important than all of the other elements combined. Or put another way, the other elements inform our choice of action.
The Background of this Post
Recently a client sent me the text of the profile she had created for LavaLife (a dating portal.) I was so impressed with it that I printed it out and read it to Dar and our client. I teared up half-way through, as the words and intention of this piece was something I found stunning.
I am going to drop in the occasional comment below (in blue) but this document stand on its own. Remember, the author is using (is taking Action) this statement to “pre-qualify” people she might be interested in getting to know.
Because this form of Communication is the most important factor for her, (after “single, heterosexual, male” — which is her dating starting point.) Stating this at the outset is much more helpful than “just picking anybody” (the norm in dating) and then “trying to fix them.”
See my e‑book, “Getting EXACTLY the Relationship You Want” for the system the author used to figure all this out.
Friendship, open communication, and then?
Open, honest, and vulnerable communication anyone…after we get to know each other a bit? Buzzwords, I know, so here’s an example of how the communication model I use breaks down.
I see you look at another woman and “feel” jealous. [The author put “feel” in quotes because she knows that jealousy is not a feeling; it’s an interpretation. Most people might not (yet) think this way, so she’s being kind.] This is how I would deal with it based on the model.
Sensory input (from the 5 senses) – I see your eyes looking in the direction of a woman
Feelings (body sensations not emotion) – surge of energy up from stomach with a simultaneous “sinking” sensation, heat across the back of my neck, in my cheeks, tension in my shoulders [In the Model, feelings are always just this: “What I feel in my body.”]
Perception (includes words that describe emotion and the storyline that’s going on) – [Here, she, describes what she is saying to herself internally, based NOT upon the behaviour of her partner, but solely upon the stories she’s inventing. The only part that has anything at all to do with her partner is that he is looking at another woman. Everything else is going on inside the author, (feelings, interpretations, etc. is just the author, inventing stuff!]
“I’m making myself jealous. He’s looking at that woman.” (I don’t really know if you are until I ask you. You’re eyes may be on her but you could be thinking about that itch on your butt). “She has a great body, better than mine; he thinks she’s more attractive than me. I don’t measure up.” I “feel” insignificant and so on, whatever happens to be going on.
Now you may well be devouring that woman with your eyes and thinking about all the naughty things you’d do if you got your hot little hands on her, but that’s not really the point. The point is that I choose that story when I have those body sensations. I have the body sensations and they may be quite strong and I get an “urge” to do something with that. If I don’t have awareness of what story I’m spinning, then I would react out of that “urge”. Classic behaviours would be to accuse you of not loving me, blame you for being just like your cheating father, start a fight, break out into tears and/or insist that you stop, which would make me a hypocrite because I enjoy looking around just as much as you do, maybe even a little more 😉
NOW at this point, with awareness, I am able to tell you about the game I’m playing with myself, and the story, and choose what I want to do with the body sensations. So I would say something like, “I’m noticing that I feel (all body sensations listed above) and I’m choosing to make myself jealous (and the other items listed above). I know, I know. It doesn’t just roll off the tongue does it? This way of speaking requires me to pay attention and not just react. Also, I’m not trying to make the feelings go away, or pretend they’re not there either.
Intention occurs when I continue to pay attention to those body sensations and I figure out what I want in that moment and what I intend to do. I might want a hug or maybe I want to pound the crap out of some pillows, or cry while you hold me or don’t hold me or lament about how my body keeps changing on me. Hey, you age or you die, right?
So I may say, “I want to cry right now and I’m going to cry for five minutes” and the Action part of the model happens when I actually do it.
I know, I know. How the heck do I know how long I’m going to cry? I don’t really, but if I am still crying after 5 minutes, I can decide if I want to keep going. If I’ve allowed the emotion to take it’s course, it probably won’t even last the whole five minutes. I’m trying to allow what’s there to be there without suppression and without fuelling it to keep it going longer than it needs to. Have you ever been crying or experiencing strong emotion, you go to take a breath for the next round and then you feel it lift and it’s just gone?
The whole point is that it isn’t real, it’s a story that grew out of body sensations. So even if you comfort me in whatever way I ask, it’s just about tuning into what’s happening in my body, not drawing you into the game. In fact, I want you to be able to differentiate your own experience from mine because it’s likely that sometimes I might try to draw you in. What can I say? I’m learning as I go!.
You don’t have to “feel” guilty, sad, wrong etc. unless that’s where you choose to go based on your own stuff. However, my goal is to not feed off each other that way. It creates stuckness.
So the intimate communication occurs in acknowledging, accepting, and revealing experiences for the sake of revelation, to show you who I am in this moment.
Many of you may be reading this and thinking, ‘No way, not for me’. I’m surprised you read this far. Thanks and I wish you all the best in your search. Others may be thinking, ‘Wow, it would be awesome to have someone to teach me how to do this.’ Think again. I am open to learning together, but you must be committed to your own growth and development, so you are either doing this already with or without an “official” model or currently use a similar type of self responsible communication.
Also, it’s easy enough for me to write about this and harder for me to do in the moment, with all those chemicals screaming “just let him have it.” So that’s why I also want you to be capable of this on your own. I’m plenty busy doing my own work.
A similar sense of humour and intellect are also baseline for me. I want to laugh my a** off with you. I’m intelligent, compassionate and caring but my humour is un-pc (more Louie CK rather than Russell Peters), a bit sarcastic and sometimes quite juvenile. Step Brothers anyone? I can’t explain why but the bunk bed scene makes me laugh every time. You can see the gag coming from a mile away…there really is no accounting for taste. Oh, did I mention I swear. Hope you have strong ears.
If you’re like minded (you don’t have to like Step Brothers. In fact, it would make more sense to me if you don’t), send me a smile. I’d like to start with friendship and compatibility and then we can decide if we want to throw anything else into the mix.
OK, so, that’s why I teared up.
This is one of the most self-responsible statements of being “in process” I’ve ever seen. The whole “You do your work, I do mine, and we share the results” is key to elegant relating, and totally mirrors what Dar and I understand works for us, and has for 28 years. It’s what we teach, it’s what we live.
Anyway, this needs no further explanation.
For homework, even if you are in a relationship, think about writing your own “Statement of Relating.” Post what you come up with on the blog.