Reciprocity of a (Seesaw) Relationship

In thinking about how friction is handled within a relationship, I came up with the seesaw (or teeter-totter) analogy, but one where the fulcrum supporting the seats can move up or down, and the seesaw platform can also move 360 degrees.

If you could imagine two people in a relationship, either at the beginning or when together for years, are sitting facing each other at the ends of the seesaw.  Imagine further that the height of the fulcrum dictates how high each bounce will go, and the turn of the seesaw dictates which view each rider gets.

At any given time, both people are making decisions, some consciously and some not, about how to conduct themselves, how to communicate with each other, how much they’ll attend to what each other needs or wants, and whether what they’re getting out of the ride justifies keeping it going.

Qualitatively, each person could rate the ride they get based on the following dimensions:

  • How safe do I feel?
  • Is the ride fun and enervating?
  • Am I enjoying the view?
  • If I wanted to change the height of the fulcrum or turn the seesaw for a different view, would my partner help me?
  • If I wanted to take a break and go to the bathroom or do something else, would my partner help me get off and wait for me to come back?
Conversely, each person could rate the ride they give:
  • How safe do I make my partner feel?
  • Is the ride fun and enervating for my partner?
  • Is my partner enjoying the view?
  • If my partner wants to change the height of fulcrum or turn the seesaw for a different view, would I help him/her?
  • If my partner wanted to take a break, would I let him/her get off safely and wait until he/she is back?
You probably remember some of your actual seesaw experiences:  Being bounced on your seat too fast, getting bored because the ride was too slow as the other kid whined about how scary it is, arguing with the other kid because he wouldn’t take his feet off the ground while laughing at you maniacally, walking off because you’re not having fun anymore, trying to get off the seesaw when the other kid pushed down unexpectedly so that you fell off, or being surprised when the other kid took off and you’re left sitting by yourself, wondering what happened.
You’ve probably also experienced laughing merrily while seesawing at the perfect rhythm and speed, and because you understood and trusted each other, you were both willing to try a variation or special trick one of you thought up.  And when one of you wanted to get off, it was certain that you would both get back on together again — because it would surely be fun.
 / 2 Comments  / in Long-term relationship, Love

2 Comments

  1. Jill October 1, 2011 9:07 am - Reply

    I like the analogy of a seesaw much better than one that is used often of relationships being similar to hills and valleys. With a seesaw it's very clear to me that it isn't just about having highs and lows but it is also about supporting each other, being kind, considerate and loving while all the while being two different people with different needs, desires and outlooks on life.

  2. oluvme@facebook.com October 3, 2011 10:23 am - Reply

    Thanks for saying so, Jill!

    The only thing I realize is missing is the seesaw doesn't move to another location. However, the two people could either go visit seesaws in different cities, or we can imbue the magic seesaw with a driving feature. Maybe it can convert to something like the Wiener-mobile with the push of a button.

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