At the heart of any relationship is the intention of the parties. If two parties don’t understand each other’s intention, problems arise. Let’s say you are going to buy a car. You know that the salesperson’s intention is to sell you a car at the maximum price. Your intention is to buy the right car for you at the lowest possible price. You share a desire that you drive off the lot in a car, but you both know you don’t share the same intention about price. Having a difference here is not really a problem because you both know there is a difference in goals. Somewhere between these objectives you can probably work out a deal.
That’s all fine for buying a car, but when it comes to romantic relationships, we don’t always understand the other party’s intention—heck, sometimes we don’t really even have clarity about our own! So, a critical initial step in a conscious relationship is to be clear about your mutual intention. If your intention is just a good time and a one-night stand and the other party’s is to have a serious long-term relationship, as they say in the NASA program, “We have a problem, Houston!” And it’s a bigger problem and confusion when the relationship progresses and one party is thinking only of having some fun and the other wants a committed relationship.
Paul Ferrini in his book, “Creating a Spiritual Relationship” says “a spiritual relationship requires a mutual commitment.” It doesn’t matter what level that commitment is at, it’s just that it be mutually understood. “The sacredness of your commitment to your partnership,” he says “does not lie in its specific content so much as it does in its mutuality and in your willingness to abide by it. Your commitment is your covenant with your partner.”
He goes on to explain that you must be honest with yourself and your partner. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not or to make commitments you can’t keep just to please someone. Whether that commitment is to be exclusive, sexual, monogamous, or not, conflict and problems occur when the parties haven’t been clear. And don’t think you don’t have to say it or have the discussion because “Well, it should be obvious.” How many times have you been hurt—or perhaps hurt someone—over something that the other person thought “you should have known.”
Intention setting is a stepwise process as relationships grow and evolve over time. It’s not that on a first date you have to lay out and agree on your respective long-term desires before you can go out again. But moving forward in relationships with open dialogue and shared mutual understandings is a key to creating trust, mutuality and avoiding misunderstandings and unnecessary pain and conflict. What each party brings to the relationship must be offered as a gift and in good faith and not the result of coercion. Freedom is the other side of commitment.
So, whether you are in a romantic relationship now, or are seeking to be in one, consider and be clear on what your intention is for the relationship. What is your commitment? Is it just to get something from the other to make you feel good? Or is it to create a shared vision of your relationship (at whatever stage it is in) built on honesty, trust and mutual understanding and commitment. My recommendation is the latter!
Cofounder, LOVE. LIFE. WISDOM. LLC