This is a description of the process of forming an intimate relationship based loosely on my bamboo analogy. It may not be the whole story but I think it comes close. It may seem difficult and idealistic, but if you're not going to put the utmost effort into a process like this, what are you going to bother to do right in life?
To build a loving relationship, a true partnership - in fact to build any healthy relationship at all - it necessary that your little bamboo castle makes sense! Its underpinnings must be known to you and be what you really base the rest of the structure upon. It cannot have sloppy, nasty workmanship cascading through its spaces and places. Its bridges, your relationships, must be balanced and healthy, fair and equitable. You must have an ample supply of spare bamboo to build your new abutment and provide for the bridge material. You must have developed skills at lashing with care, and picking the right piece for the right place. Along with this you must be able to remove your mistakes and casual errors and maintain your "work in progress" forthrightly and with timely improvements and repairs!
While it is up to you how you do this, no one can tell you for instance what makes a good foundation, there are still rules that apply. Rules of logic for determining how to act based on your fundamental propositions. Rules to determine when not to follow rules, even! It is totally up to you what is important to you. How you decide to let the various parts of yourself be assembled is your choice.
Before you can love someone else, you must love yourself. This is pretty much a cliche by now - and as such you would think we would all be listening and doing it "by the book," and then succeeding at our efforts in love. So why don't we? Is it that we do not actually know what "loving ourselves" means? Is it that we wish to short circuit the process and just say "hey, I love myself ok" in order to form the bonds that not only do we crave but that society rewards us so much for forming - or claiming to have formed?
I think the best test of loving yourself is the ability to be alone, and with people, too, without being uncomfortable, acting naturally. If being alone is not a crisis, even on a Saturday night, you may be a good candidate for future relationships. If you get so involved in a conversation or an activity you forget you are single, you just enjoy it for its own sake, you may be ready.
Since love is very disruptive, you must be solid in your self knowledge and awareness. The process of building an intimate pair bond is going to tax your self knowledge in the extreme, you will be growing and adapting so fast you had better know where you started or you will have no idea where you are or will end up. Losing track of yourself is a sure recipe for disaster. This means you must have a good idea of what you really consider to be most important in life, your principal values or axioms. In addition, you will have prepared yourself for greater challenges by slowly rooting out those propositions in youself that conflict with these basic rules you want to live by. You will have built additions, new behaviors, that coincide with, and are appropriate to, those basic fundamentals.
Whatever it is that you are, you will be used to always trying to improve the areas that are more flawed. Rather than resting on the laurels of your talents, you will be seeking to fix the things that previously your better friends simply accepted about you. You will be engaged in a process of self actualisation (which of course takes an entire lifetime). These skills will be vital when you try to merge your life slowly with another.
You must examine your motivations! Why do you want a love of this sort? I could suggest better and poorer reasons, but they would be my reasons, and you must have your own. Do you have preconceptions? Are your past loves, the old bridges, fully reassimilated? Do you walk into love thinking you know how it will go? It won't - it will be a totally new thing in your life.
I hope you find much of it and enjoy it fully. I truly do.
© Huw Powell