20201214M Day 349: BIRDY Authentic Relating Relationship Game


Check-in: I’m missing my beloved and wondering if I will see her in a week. A cold front blew in last night. I woke up from a dream at 2am and went outside to look for meteors. I saw a long cloud or vapor trail across the sky but no meteors. I had homemade cherry pie for breakfast with my Aunt and my friend K. Her daughter made it before leaving for CA. Music playing this morning has been the beautiful piano music of Ludovico Einaudi followed by an ecstatic dance set (1/17/19) by DJ Hamid. K and I are going to do virtual yoga in an hour – I’m looking forward to stretching my body.

BIRDY is an authentic relating (AR) game based on a relationship exercise I learned from a friend. I learned it as BIRD, and then added Y. BIRD is an acronym that stands for Boundaries, Intensions, Requests, and Desires.

AR Games are structured communication exercises, about 10-25 minutes in length, that are often led by a facilitator who establishes a safe container for the exercises. To establish a container, participants agree to certain agreements, such as confidentiality upon request, respect yourself and others, lean into your edge, and be present. The guided exercises/games can either be played as a full group or in pairs, triads, quads, etc.

Whether you are on a first date, in a fresh relationship, or have been in a relationship for decades, BIRDY can help you build a deeper and more authentic relationship with someone. I have only played BIRDY in a pair group, but it could be played in groups of three or more. For simplicity, I will describe the game play for a pair of two players, Austen (he/him) and Blair (she/her).

  1. Austen goes first and shares with Blair a boundary, intension, request, or desire. There is no need to go in BIRD order. It is best to pick whatever is alive in the moment.
  2. Blair replies by repeating back Austen’s boundary, intension, request, or desire as close as possible using the sentence stem “I hear you have a …”. Blair then continues her reply with the sentence stem “Hearing that, I feel …” and shares a particular feeling she is having and/or describes any physical changes she senses in her body.
  3. Austen then replies with the sentence stem “Hearing that, I feel …” and shares a particular feeling he is having and/or describes any physical changes he senses in his body.
  4. Switch players and now Blair shares with Austen a boundary, intension, request, or desire. Continue going back and forth until any pre-established game time is up or for a particular number of rounds. It’s a good challenge to play long enough for each player to have a chance to share at least one of each boundary, intension, request, and desire.
  5. As an option, the sharer can add a “why” to their share. This is for the Y in BIRDY.

Here’s an example of play:

Austen: My Intension is to date you and explore a romantic relationship with you. This is because I find you attractive and understand that you are, like me, looking for a partner to settle down with and start a family.

Blair: I hear that you want to date me and explore a romantic relationship with me because you find me attractive and we are both looking for a partner to start a family with. Hearing that, I feel a bit of tightness in my chest and throat, and feel a mix of anxiousness and excitement.

Austen: Hearing that, I feel curious and optimistic.

Blair: My Intension is to get to know you slowly and be open to either friendship or romance. This is because I have recently ended a two-year relationship and am wanting some time to digest that relationship before getting into a new one.

Austen: I hear that you want to get to know me slowly and are open to either friendship or partnership. You have recently ended a two-year relationship and want some time before beginning a new one. Hearing that, I feel empathy, compassion, happiness, and relief.

Blair: Hearing that, I feel curious and understood.

Austen: I have a Desire to put on some music and dance with you in the living room. This is because I enjoy dancing and am feeling playful now.

20201213u Day 348: Three Ceremonies of Love


Check-in: I’m feeling a bit depressed now. My beloved is currently planning to come visit me and also planning to not visit me. She has apparently learned some universe surfing methods from me and I’m feeling both the excitement of anticipation of her coming and the sadness of her not coming and us not being together for the holidays and perhaps for an indefinite period. What feelings are alive for you right now? …

Forgive me if I repeat myself, both now and in the future. I experience time as flowing both ways. I sometimes notice that the thoughts and feelings I have seem to be affected by events that occur both in the past and in the future. From events in the past and future, these thoughts of three love ceremonies arise.

The first love ceremony is all about love of one’s self. In this ceremony, you invite all of your friends and family to be witness to your professions of love for your self. This ceremony will likely include elements of “coming out” – showing your true self to those you love. Everything about the ceremony and celebration is tailored to your own personality and truths. You share everything you have learned about yourself. You share both traits that you love about yourself and those that you might hate or at least have negative judgements about. You share your thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and fantasies. You share any current plans and goals. By the end of the ceremony, you have created a shared reality between you and your friends and family around who you are. This ceremony is one of knowing yourself, loving yourself, and being yourself in the presence of those you love.

The second love ceremony is a double ceremony that involves two people repeating the first love ceremony (which must be done first, of course 🙂 in the presence of the friends and family of both people. In this ceremony, instead of sharing everything you have learned about yourself, you share everything you have learned about another person. You share both traits you love about them and traits that you have some judgement around. You own your judgements and share how you are sometimes triggered by the other person. This ceremony can easily last twice as long as the first one since both people will be sharing. While one person is sharing, the other person is mainly listening. Depending on the two people, what is shared may be prepared and read, or may be completely in the moment. By the end of the ceremony, a shared reality among the loved ones of both people will have been created. This ceremony is about knowing another, loving another, and being yourself in the presence of another and another’s loved ones. Part of this ceremony includes a profession to explore partnership together.

The third love ceremony is also a double ceremony like the second, with friends and family of both people invited. In this ceremony, it is not so important to share things you love about the other person, as this was done in the second ceremony. Instead, the purpose of this ceremony is to share about the relationship between the two people that is being created. Both people share what they love about the relationship that they have created. They also share the challenges of the relationship. Some personal traits can be shared as reminders to help better explain the relationship. In this ceremony, both people can share simultaneously, more or less, or take turns. By the end of the ceremony, everyone has a shared reality of the relationship that has been created between the two people. This ceremony is about knowing the relationship between two people, loving this relationship, and living this relationship in the presence of others.

The first love ceremony is one that can be held at anytime after someone feels they have learned enough about themselves and feels ready to love and be one’s self in the presence of others. The second and third love ceremonies can be between any two people. It is not just reserved for those who might otherwise hold a marriage ceremony. These ceremonies can be held between two friends or two family members. They can be simple or extravagant. For the third ceremony, it is not assumed that the relationship being celebrated is “life long”. This could be the intention of both people, but it could also be the intention of both people that it not be life long.

How do you feel when thinking about these three ceremonies? What emotions arise? Do you feel like you know yourself well enough to have the first love ceremony? Do you feel ready to share who you are with those who love you? Who would you invite?

20200715W Day 197: Soulmates – Sensual, Emotional, Intellectual, Sexual, and Spiritual


I’m still on a high from a sweet, impromptu dinner party last night with a friend and her daughter that I haven’t seen or connected with since before the pandemic. I decided to text her yesterday and she video called me right back, which led to a dinner at my place with my Aunt also. As she came to the door, I pondered inviting her in only for a split second as I felt the energy in my body. My brain quickly did a calculation from my energy that this was a “four 9” interaction, meaning that 99.99% chance all would be ok and no coronaviruses would be spreading around in my house. She asked if I wanted a hug, and consistent with the odds, I gave her a nice long hug.

We then went to the pool and swam and talked. I shared some of the thoughts on long-term relationships that have been swirling around my brain lately. As I shared with her, I now share with you…

Many people often talk about finding their soulmate, which is often described as someone with whom they want to spend the rest of their life, and beyond. Those who have found their soulmate are envied by many who have not. One’s soulmate is assumed to be very rare with some people believing that each person has only one soulmate for them. Others believe perhaps there are only a handful of soulmates on the Earth for them. On the other extreme are people who believe in an unlimited number of soulmates, and also people who disbelieve in the very concept of a soulmate.

To investigate the question of soulmates, I thought it would be helpful to dig into the different ways in which people feel a “soulmate” type of connection.

  1. Sensual Soulmates – Two people can have an attraction to one another that occurs purely through their senses. Often, but not always, the first sense by which we know someone is through sight. We see them in person, or a video, or even a photo, and feel an immediate attraction. When we see them move, our eyes follow their movement. A second common sense we use to detect our sensual soulmate is smell. How someone smells to us affects how physical close we want to be with them. Related to smell is taste. While we don’t often going around tasting our friends, tasting our sexual partners does occur. Taste for friends would often be limited to sweet kisses on the mouth or cheek. Taste for lovers would include full body kisses. The fourth sense is audial. Hearing someone’s voice or their laugh can either annoy or entice us. And finally, the sense of touch is very important. This includes cuddling, holding hands, stroking each other’s bodies, running fingers through hair, and feeling the energy of someone while in close contact. The degree to which two people or sensual soulmates is determined by the degree that two people have a high compatibility with each of these five senses.
  2. Emotional Soulmates – When two people feel the freedom to share the fullness of their emotional expressions with each other, without judgement or constraint, then this is an indication that they are strong emotional soulmates.
  3. Intellectual Soulmates – When two people get excited by the intellectual workings of each other’s mind, then this is an indication that they are strong intellectual soulmates.
  4. Sexual Soulmates – When two people dance well together, enjoy each other’s flirting, are aroused by sexual stories, fantasies and invitations from each other, and have “best sex of my life” on a regular basis, then the degree to which these are true represents the degree to which the two people are sexual soulmates.
  5. Spiritual Soulmates – When two people have a similar view of the world, have similar values and beliefs around higher powers beyond the material world, feel stronger in their spiritual beliefs and connected to a higher power when in the presence of each other, then the degree to which these are present presents the degree to which the two people are spiritual soulmates.

I believe most people would agree that you can strongly feel one of these different soulmate type of connections without strongly feeling all of them. I think the popular notion that soulmates are rare comes from an expectation that all of these must be mutually strong in order for two people to be “soulmates”. I prefer a more abundant definition of soulmate in which a strong soulmate has strength in any one of these different soulmate types of connection.

I think it’s important to add that even a strong soulmate connection in all five of these does not mean that two people should get married and have lots of children. A strong soulmate connection is necessary, but not sufficient, for a long-term relationship of any sort.