Intentional relationships: An introduction

stationary pile with scissors, a notebook, a pen and sticky notes.

Relationships can be as much a matter of chance as intention. After all, your oldest friend is likely someone you met because your parents knew each other, you lived in the same street or went to the same primary school. Meeting someone and establishing a new connection depends on being in the right space, at the right time, with energy to invest in a connection and meeting someone else there that is also interested and has energy of their own to invest in a new relationship. This post is about how to figure out your part of that equation. What you want, and where you might find it.

Creating intentional relationships is all about recognising where you have influence in creating, shaping and maintaining connections with others. This is not just about sexual partners, but rather about the myriad ways we connect with others in our lives including with our parents, our friends, our work colleagues, our siblings, our family of choice, our activity partners. It is about the decisions that we make with our time and energy in prioritising work, social activities, important people, romantic or sexual connections and family.

We are all very different humans with different desires for work, purpose, pleasure and connection. Sometimes we live in line with those desires, and sometimes we don’t. A lot of the time it is not possible to devote the time we would like to each aspect because one of them takes precedence for a period, for example after the birth of a child we might not be able to spend as much time with other people as we would like to. Around important deadlines at work there may not be as much time for the other things in our life. Perhaps if you are training for a marathon you won’t have capacity to keep your usual social engagements and maintain productivity in your job. For some people, this imbalance is a longer term issue. You might find that so much of your energy is taken up with work that there isn’t time for most of the other things in life that you want. You might find that you get so drawn into a romantic partnership that your friends, family and workplace don’t get the time you would normally devote to them.

None of us is starting from a blank slate in making our relationships more intentional. We all have existing connections, desires and commitments. I invite you to make these more explicit by creating your ‘pod’.  

What on earth is a pod?

I’ve talked about relationship mapping in the past, but this is a wider task. It is about creating a visual representation of the most important relationships and activities in your life.  

How do I create one for myself?

I recommend doing it with sticky notes (my stationary fetish is showing again, I know), but if that doesn’t appeal to you, a sheet of paper will do just fine. Put yourself and each of the people in your life on a post-it. If you have a spare wall, then put the post it with you in the very centre. Around you, add your people at what feels like the right distance from you. I recommend starting with the people that you are closest to and then working out. You might find colour coding people helps.  Perhaps you have people that you know through an activity, people with whom you are romantic, previous romantic partners, people who make good writing companions, people who go on walks with you, people whose relationship to you is exclusively kinky. Whatever system works for you, go with it.

Once you have put your people on the wall (or sheet of paper) then add groups.  What are the groups or activities that are important to you.  Whether it is a meditation circle, church, munch group, netball club or parents support group; it should be on your pod.

What next?

Take some time to see whether your pod feels right. Have a look at it over the coming days and think about whether all the people and groups are where you want them to be. Are there people that you would like to be closer or further away? Are there groups that you want to be more central or to deprioritise? Are the mix of different types of connection right for you? Are you comfortable with how you are balancing your desires for closeness with people with the energy you are putting into the relationship to maintain that closeness?

In the next blog entry I will extend this to looking at how you can create opportunities for new connections

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