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Circles of Commitment

By  Elena Harder

Imagine a spiral shell. At the center the segments are tiny, but as the shell grows they get larger and larger.  The Circles of Commitment (COC) is based on the concept of this shell and the expanding sacred Fibonacci sequence. 

Each segment is a clear individual period of time, yet it is inextricably linked to the others that come before and after it.  Whether we work with it consciously or not, a lifelong commitment involves thousands of these phases.  Utilizing circles of commitment involves moving consciously together from section of time, one level of commitment, to the other.  By using mutually chosen reasonable timeframes, this concept can be used to allow you to choose exactly how and how fast you want to expand your connection. 

In contrast, the standard “white picket fence and kids” future is often called an “elevator relationship” one where once you hop on the elevator, you just keep going. You meet, stop dating others, get married, have kids, (maybe an unfortunate divorce) or end up living happily-ish ever after. The elevator keeps moving and only on one track as decided by a mass media.  Some people really want that specific track while others want to evolve their relationships differently and that is totally fine.  I encourage you to do it however it feels right for you. 

Imagine the ridiculousness of meeting somebody and going. “Wow, you seem great let’s spend the rest of our life together for no reason other than I think you’re a hottie.” (I’ve done this btw, wouldn’t recommend it.)

No wonder men (and women) pull back from commitment, when there’s so little evidence to be able to make such a vast decision on. This is part of why the 100 Questions to Fall in Love and COC are so helpful. 

For healthy, expanding love it’s important to be able to know and dialog around the relationship you really want to be in.  To determine what exactly you are committing too, and for how long.

Regardless of whether you haven’t met him yet, are just starting out or are years into a marriage, you can and should talk openly and clearly with your partner about what you’re hoping the relationship will be in the next 3, 6 and 12 months.

If you are in a new relationship, it’s important to recognize that talking about those big dreams, does NOT mean they will actually happen with this person.  Having big conversations about your future dreams can be an exhilarating part of early relationship.  Or it can show you that this relationship is likely not a good idea, and give you the opportunity to get out before you’ve invested too much time.  It’s important to remember that in that first 1-12 months of relationship you are just feeling them out to see if they’ll be a good fit for what you want. If they aren’t, remember your dreams don’t have to die. Be grateful for the opportunity to clarify what you do and don’t want, and then find someone who matches even better and try again.

If you’re in an established relationship, COC can be used to make conscious changes to the areas of your life that could use improvement.  Whether that’s premature ejaculation, your lack of a sex life, the wild orgasms you feel are possible for you or exploring wanting to move on.  Using small circles of commitment allows you to talk about your relationship transitions where you move from from one version of “you and me” to a different experience of “you and me”.  Regardless of whether or not you end up staying with your partner or moving on to the next one, the growth you do through consciously having the uncomfortable conversations and doing the inner inquiry is the golden ticket that allows you to experience the next level of embodiment of your pleasure goddess self. Lean into the challenge, breathe, check your projections and expectations and you will grow.

The Circles of Commitment concept allows you to expand naturally towards your big dreams of a conscious committed relationship in whatever speed and whatever manner makes most sense to you both. 

In the first month talk about what you imagine your future to look like.  While you do this feel your body as you/they talk about the future.  If it feels open and expansive that’s great!  If it feels worried then bring those things up. Seeing how your potential future partner handles those worries is crucial information about how they will handle future challenges. By clearly sharing your desires and expectations in that first month it will save you a lot of heartache down the road. You are consciously building a great foundation for your relationship.  

Especially if you’re looking for a long term conscious relationship having these conversations will give you real life experience about how this person handles conflict, growth opportunities, commitment and challenge. This is all crucial data that will let you know whether the person that you’re talking about having a relationship with is actually capable of the kind of communication that is required in order to have healthy long term love. 

You might be wondering what does the circle of commitment look? 

The first commitment is one to talk to get to know each other to see what each of you is actually dreaming of having and being in your future relationship. This is just as applicable if you are starting a new relationship as it is if you are re-kindling or trying to rescue a dull marriage you’ve tuned out from.  

NOTE: Other people may be searching for casual romance, excitement in their life, a cuddle buddy, or a sexy friend.  That makes the questions and the commitments you are making with each other really different (see the Safer Sex Elevator Speech Chapter).  Actually this possibility makes it even more crucial to ask pointed and powerful questions to avoid broken hearts, unmet expectations or mis-matched commitment levels.  

It’s powerful to say “Let us spend the next month (online) dating like we’ve put our whole hearts into this relationship, get to know what we are hoping for, expecting and desiring.  We can then check in, see if that’s even a match and see if we want to deepen our commitment at the end of the month.”  Especially for men, these clear expectations and boundaries are really helpful in dealing with those who don’t want to commit, or are looking for something really different than you are. 

When I birthed this concept I was a jaded and heartbroken 33 year old woman with a 9 year old son, 6 ex-boyfriends under my belt since my son was born and a handful of one night stands with “eligible hotties” that had turned into nothing. 

I was feeling the biological pressure to “find Mr. Right and make the babies I always dreamed of” right freaking now. I didn’t want to mess around with another 9 month journey with a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, so it was super important for me to ask questions to clarify whether “this hot tinder dude” was:

  1. interesting to me
  2. interested in me, 
  3. wanted something similar to what I wanted in the future, 
  4. was open to the idea of co-parenting my 9 year old
  5. excited to have kids
  6. had processed his past trauma
  7. was actually willing to commit and show up to those shared dreams
  8. showed that he could actually do that and work on issues that came up
  9. capable of fathering kindly in real life situations
  10. After 6 months in the trenches of co-parenting still wanted to stick around to make those OTHER dreams come true.

The timeline on that “getting to know you” conversation can be a week, three months or three years, depending on what you’re both wanting for the speed of developing your relationship.  

If you’re already living together and working on some issues recognize that this can take longer.  Lets face it, the hassles of daily life, kids, jobs will get in the way.

If you’ve just met you’ll likely be chomping at the bit to have these conversations. Good!  

A) If you’ve already got an interesting prospect you’re talking to – Download the 100 questions to fall in love

B) No good prospects in sight? Head over to “What I really want”

C) Playing along? Turn the page…

About Your Host:

Elena Harder


As a single parent for many years, Elena knows what it's like to live in daily overwhelm that seems it will never end. After suffering from severe post-partum depression for 5 years, and an abusive relationship that she couldn't seem to quit, Elena developed a case of seriously self destructive self talk about being a "horrible mother". She knew she needed to do something different, but couldn't seem to shake old patterns. She started to experiment with the few things that HAD been working to bring her more peace, and combined them into one power packed (and quick) experience, to help find that inner peace, and make progress towards her goal of ACTUALLY feeling like a good mom. Through these tracks she's been able to stop experiencing irrational anger towards child, is no longer experiencing mental health challenges, and has even attracted a wonderful man into her life who is a great father to her son and a dream come true. Now she works to help other mothers to manage and reduce their stress, build healthier relationships, stop sounding like their mothers, and live lives they once only dreamed of.

Elena H

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