I’m doing a presentation at PauseFest 2019, which talks about the foundations for creating intimacy, and why designing for intimacy is important, and is likely to become more important in the future. I use my relationship with partner, Bob, as an example of creating intimacy over distance. This blog post explains the way we create intimacy in our relationship.
I’ve been in a long-distance relationship Bob for 3 years.
To compensate for being apart, we’ve created a way of communicating that keeps us deeply connected. Our process evolved through trial and error, based on a communication framework we learnt in a kink class.
Each time we head into a new context, (e.g. from work to weekend or moving to a new country or crazy work/travel period) we make time to have a detailed conversation, where we explore what’s happening, what it means, what we need and how to support each other. Instead of using this approach all the time (like we do), you could use it for a specific event or period, like a holiday, or the Christmas season.
Our process is this:
We set aside about an hour, and minimise the likelihood of interruptions.
We run through the questions below, asking each other the one question at a time, alternating. eg. I ask Bob “What are the main themes?” - he answers and then he asks me the same question.
The trick is to ask the question, and then hold space for the other person to explore and reflect.
By holding space - I mean:
listen with the pure intention of hearing and understanding your partner’s perspective;
be truly present (no phone, interruptions, distractions);
listening without judgement, without making assumptions;
if you observe emotion in your partner gently ask about it; e.g How do you feel about that?
if you are unclear, ask clarifying questions; e.g. what do you mean when you say weird?
beware of projecting our own perspective on to what your partner says;
If you feel emotion come up - park it until they have finished their turn (this is the tricky bit!)
Here are the questions, with a little explanation:
How are you doing? (A quick check in and ensuring we are present, and clearing any top of mind thoughts before getting stuck into it.)
What’s the time frame? (Considering an appropriate length of time before a change of context, typically 4 or 5 days - of course it’s the same for both of us.)
What are the main themes? (This might be work, or writing, or getting kids settled at school. The themes might be different to your partner, or they might be the same.)
Why are we doing this, why is it important? (Checking our alignment with our intention and purpose - are we heading in the right direction?)
How do you want to feel? (Connecting us with our desires and making us conscious of what we want to manifest for ourselves.)
What do we want to do and are there any non-negotiables? (This helps uncover things that need to happen and where we have flexibility and where we don’t.)
Do you have any desired outcomes?
What do we request of each other? (Do you need support and how might your partner be able to do that?)
How and when will we reflect during this period? (Set the expectation of when and where you will be able to create space to reflect.)
How are we going to take care of ourselves? (Makes you conscious of your self-care - meditation, yoga, exercise and the things we sometimes neglect. It helps us stay accountable for looking after ourselves and not getting overrun by work.)
What is our intention regarding sobriety and recreation? (Do we intend to drink, or partake in any recreational activities?)
Are there limits and boundaries? (Are there things we don’t want to do?)
Are there any potential triggers? How will we communicate them? (e.g. If your boss is coming to town… let’s be conscious that it might cause an issue and have a way of letting each other know it’s an issue.)
Is there any incongruence? (Does all of this make sense - or is there a disconnect e.g. between self care and triggers, or how you want to feel and what your non-negotiables are?)
Our reflections are very simple.
Similar to the frame-up, we set aside time and ask each other these questions, and hold space for each other to reflect.
The questions are:
How are you doing?
Good stuff? (What’s been positive since we last reflected.)
Challenges? (What have we struggled with or been triggered by - in general… not just each other.)
What’s your intention? (What do you want to focus on or manifest from here on.)
Our explicit conversations, both the frame-up and reflection, help us connect deeply and create intimacy over distance.
If you try it out in your relationship, please let us know how you go. And please let us know of any adaptations you’ve made - as we are always keen to learn!
Kylie & Bob
Postscript - Post PauseFest 2019
I had a couple of people ask about the kink questions too. So I’ve attached a photo of the card we received at our Curious Creatures course.
If you are in any way curious - I can highly recommend the Kink 101 course as a great place to start. Questions?? Don’t be shy, drop me an email.