The Relationship Ferris Wheel Part 1: Building the Foundation

Alright, now you have your pen and your paper (and maybe the printout) and you’re all set to create your own Relationship Ferris wheel. Just so you’re aware, this exercise is going to “build” the structure all the way from basic foundations out through the supports and finally into fun little swinging seats of direct action at the edges.

But first, we have to start. We have to build the base of our Ferris wheel, and like any good foundation, it’s built out of only the finest materials.

What are those materials? That’s something that only you can answer, my friend. We’re building the Ferris Wheel of Intimate Relationships, right? So tell me: what do you think are the important parts of an intimate relationship?

Parts is Parts

If you’re like most people, you’re going to come up with some pretty generalized concepts:

“Trust”

“Communication.”

“Loyalty.”

“Sex.”

“Love.” 

There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s true that these are important things in a lot of intimate relationships.But if stop with these big generic concepts, you’re kind of cheating yourself of the process. For each of those big-idea words, let me ask you a follow-up question:

What does that look like to you?

When you say “trust”, is that I trust my partner to come home to me every night, or I trust my partner to serve on the board of my LLC, or I trust my partner to care for my puppy when I’m on vacation? Those are all different kinds of trust. Imagine a situation – or three – which illustrates what you meant when you put “TRUST” in the big rhombus-looking shape at the base of the template. Feel free to illustrate it with a little picture if that’s easier – as long as you know what it means, that’s fine (if you end up showing this to someone else, like, say, a potential intimate partner, you can always explain the picture and they’ll think you’re extra cool because artsy). 

Do that for each of the big-idea words, and don’t let yourself be limited by reality. Remember, we’re building this foundation out of nothing but the best materials, and that means that you put in not what you think is fair, or realistic, or achievable – you build that base out of what you really want.

If any of the words give you trouble when you try to illustrate them in the framework of an intimate relationship, it’s possible you – like a zillion other people – got caught up in some kind of Disney buzzword bingo when it comes to relationships. We’re told, over and over again, what it is that “proves” love and intimacy: She won’t respect you if you don’t make this much money, He will think you’re a slut if you wear jeans that tight, Remember, nothing says I love you like a diamond from Our Jewelry Emporium.

Give yourself a little time to think about those words that you’re having difficulty with, trying out different ideas of how to explain what they mean to you when it comes to your Ideal Intimate Relationship. But if you can’t think of anything…go ahead and take it out. Cross it off. Remove it, because this is your intimate relationship and nobody gets to tell you what needs to be there.

Now, Go Wild

Ok, now that you’ve gotten the hang of those five-dollar words and how they manifest in your Ultimate Relationship of Beautiful Intimacy, let go of the big concepts and get selfish. Get silly. Think of things that aren’t in the big self-help books but that are what you really, truly want when you think of an intimate relationship. 

Example? In the movie Truly, Madly, Deeply Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson have a lovely bit where they play and sing the song The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore together. It’s a silly little bonding moment, it doesn’t embody any of those big five-dollar words (unless you included play in your list, and yeah, you probably should have, that’s ok, there’s time). Admittedly, it’s a fictional story – but that particular moment in the film (nope, it’s not on YouTube, you’ll have to watch the movie) absolutely speaks about intimacy

And maybe “my partner needs to be able to sing harmonies on cheesy love songs” is something that has always been what you secretly wanted in your ideal intimate relationship. Or climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Or must accept that the eleventh doctor is always the best, even if I haven’t seen the most recent incarnations. Again, there is nothing too silly or petty or unrealistic. Put in your ultimate dreams, your absolutely most-secret never-admitted fantasies and such.

Remember, no one else has to ever see this document.

You’ve got a week. Use the template, and come back to it every once in a while, looking at what you’ve written, adding things in as they occur to you (don’t take things out unless, as noted above, they feel more like you should want that concept rather than authentically wanting it). 

Build your foundation strong. It’s a great way to get back in touch with that inner romantic, the one you were before reality came crushing in.

I’m not saying you’re not still romantic. You devil (wink). But it helps sometimes to go back to the days of dreaming and wishing, and it’s going to be a great basis for the next step: the Core. 

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