Saturday, September 21, 2013


In my original post outlining my intended family structure, I left room for myself to have another serious, probably romantic relationship in addition to the base unit of me, Hat Guy, and Flower Lady. I did that because I felt that having such a relationship could enrich my life, and because I wanted the opportunity to develop bonds with people in whatever ways seem appropriate at the time. In other words, I didn't want to be unnecessarily limited by my existing relationships.

That's why I left room for another person. I did not do it because I anticipate having needs or wants that could only be fulfilled by having another relationship. Ideally, the base unit (plus the friend/family network) will be able to fulfill all the needs and wants of everyone in the base unit. This is part of being a functioning, stable unit.

At this point in our conversation, we the unit demonstrated how super useful we are. We went "We're setting the goal of making sure all our needs and wants are addressed somewhere in our relationship structures? Great! Let's map out what each of us needs/wants and where we can get that". And that's what we did.

Vaguely inspired by Morrissey and Cake's physical boundaries checklist, we made a big huge table of things that people do in relationships, or that at least one of us needs/wants to have happen. We put those down the left column, and across the top we put each of our relationships (Hat Guy and me, Hat Guy and Flower Lady, me and Flower lady, and the group). We also put a column for people outside of the base unit, a column for objections, and a column for whether things are allowed to happen in public.

Click to enlarge

This was very much a write-in table, not a check-off table. Specific entries were things like "yes", "ask first", "no problems", and "required". The objections category in particular got wordy, because we were using it for all types of objections, such as how I have to be completely out of earshot when sexy times happen, that Flower Lady should not be allowed to go grocery shopping alone lest she bring home the entire store, and that none of us want to spend time around each other's ex's. This table covers a lot of stuff, and what we got out of it was entirely proportional to the effort we put into filling it out. I have a feeling that this is only the first version of this table.

Why is this useful?
In general, because none of us are mind readers. No matter how well we know someone, we can't know what they want and don't want unless they tell us. Yes, there's body language and stuff, but words are really the clearest, most straight-forward way to do it. Unfortunately, telling someone that you want them to change what they're doing is not always easy. For me and my unit, charts make it easier to communicate. Clearly laying everything out in a very utilitarian way opens up lines of communication, which allows us to be frank about what we need/want. This in turn allows us to get what we need/want. Useful.

In the case of multiple relationships (those could be romantic, family, friend, or something else), there's more than one person available to fulfill your needs/wants. That makes things easier, because you don't have to rely on just one person to do everything for you, but it also makes things more complicated, because you have more options of people to go to, and more people relying on you. It can be tricky finding the right balances. By mapping out what everyone needs, you can start intentionally matching those needs together. The goal is to make sure everyone gets the attentions they desire, and don't feel pressured to give more than they wish to. 


  1. This is amazing. As someone with a strong desire for relationship negotiation, and a lot of trouble finding sources on how people do it, this is an incredibly interesting and inspiring thing to see.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you find it useful. I've also had trouble finding resources for this stuff, and it's hard to sit down and have these big conversations without some guidelines to keep you on track. Mapping out the things I want to talk about (even if I have to make the map myself from scratch) has been very helpful for me.

  2. I just saw this and I love this version of a boundaries checklist! I'd love to know later on how often your family unit visits and updates it cause we don't have a regular schedule for updating which means ours is pretty behind :P --Morrisseyandcake