The Wheel of Life: Romance is Dead, Long Live Self-Love!

Why I've Removed "Romance" from the Wheel of Life!

Recently I had a very interesting discussion with a forward thinking divorce lawyer, mediator and life coach (let's call him John). John shared a recent experience which led me to remove "Romance" from the "Significant Other/Romance" category description on The Wheel of Life Tool. But first, we had a spirited discussion over email...

To learn everything you need to know about this powerful coaching tool read: The Complete Guide to the Wheel of Life.

So, below I have loosely recreated our email discussion for you to read!

JOHN: I have known about the wheel for 25+ years and there are numerous versions of the wheel with a category for "Relationships". I do not like the "Significant Other/Romance" category and urge you to change it.

In particular, what prompted me to email you is that I recently coached a client who said that "she had done the Wheel of Life Exercise and was deficient in Significant Other/Romance".

EMMA: That is sad. The instructions ask clients to rate their satisfaction in each area - not score themselves!

Our society programs us from a young age to find "the one" who will complete us so we can live happily ever after. All too often people are looking to bolster their self-esteem by finding someone to love them. We look outside of ourselves to fill the void, instead of learning to take care of ourselves.

You must see this every day in your line of work. But I think the issue goes a lot deeper than a "Significant Other/Romance" category on a coaching tool. There is a constant mythology being peddled through advertising/books/magazines/movies/TV that our goal in life is to find our "one true love" and live happily ever after – without realising that relationships take ongoing work, effort and usually (if they are to succeed) no small amount of personal growth on our part. This mythology is deeply embedded in our psyche starting in the fairy tales we read at a young and impressionable age.

JOHN: When the Wheel category is relationships (including friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc.) a client who feels disconnected can use that awareness to proactively do many things to nurture and heal their relationships.

EMMA: I agree. And our Wheel of Life Exercise does have a separate "Friends and Family" category - which would be similar to your "Relationships" category. Often I suggest people might like to split this segment into two – 1) Family and 2) Friends - and score them separately. They also might like to add in a category of "Community" and score that too if that is important to them. That way they can see specifically where they are dissatisfied and take action, as you mention, to raise their satisfaction scores in each area.

JOHN: But if the Wheel category is "Significant Other/Romance," it has several negative implications: 1) Everyone is getting some but me. What's wrong with me?" (implied judgment of lack)

EMMA: The Wheel of Life is a tool to raise people's awareness about how satisified they are with different areas of their lives. It is not a tool to judge themselves and decide they are somehow deficient! Instead, whenever people are dissatisfied with a category (area of life) the wheel helps us recognize that - and then take action to improve our satisfaction.

Sadly, the flip side of the "everyone needs to find love and the one person who completes them" is that single people often feel somehow worth less. "Can't find someone to love you? There must be something wrong with you...". This is something we can help our clients with by challenging these limiting beliefs.

JOHN: 2) There is little one can do to generate a Significant Other or Romantic relationship (you can find just about everything online, but not a way to provide this - dating websites excepted)

EMMA: I believe there is much we CAN do to find a partner! Whether it's maximising our chances of meeting people with similar interests by volunteering, joining clubs and societies, we can practice being more courageous and asking people out and we can also get out there to meet new people by trying new things or taking a course. People can also challenge themselves and go out with someone who is not their normal "type".

Importantly, we can prepare ourselves for a partnership by getting to know who we are and what we value – both in ourselves and others. By being the best person we can be, we naturally become more attractive to others.

JOHN: 3) Many people are very content and happy without a significant other.

EMMA: Absolutely! Clients should be asking, "How satisfied am I in this area?". The "Significant Other/Romance" category is not there for people to say, "Yes I must have one" – it's about how HAPPY they are with their current position. So, someone could be single and score highly in the "Significant Other" category – if they're satisfied with their status.

For the most part, as humans, we pair up and are generally drawn to/benefit from having a significant other – whether or not we choose to have children. While some people are happy being alone for life (and some make that choice), most of us do choose to pair up!

And we both agree we should not coach our clients to fill their "void" with other people. Instead we should be actively coaching people to fill their own void, to love, nurture, accept themselves and to meet their own needs - instead of expecting others to do it for them.

So, in Summary:

We are programmed to believe that romantic "acts" prove that someone loves us - and that finding love will make us whole. These romantic notions create unrealistic expectations and can put a strain on any relationship.

And we must be careful not to give the impression that if someone is single, this means they must have a low score (or feel deficient) in the "Significant Other" category. There are many single people who are perfectly happy, or perfectly happy to be single while looking for a longer-term partner.

On Removing Romance...

So, while I have removed "Romance" from the Wheel, I feel the category of "Significant Other/Partner" should stay. If our clients have a partner, this person is an important part of their life - and how satisfied they feel in that relationship has a major impact. And if our clients are single, we can be working on a two-pronged approach with them:

  1. Help our clients be happy with themselves, learn to embrace the benefits of solitude, to meet their own needs and reach out to others if they are feeling lonely and get to know themselves as deeply as possible.
  2. If finding a partner is extremely important to them, we can help them maximise their chances by meeting as many new people as possible, getting clear on the qualities they value in a partner, learning to take risks and get out of their comfort zones - and grow as individuals!

But hopefully by removing the "Romance" part of the "Significant Other" category we help reduce the number of "knights in shining armour", "damsels in distress" or "wounded men/women that need fixing". We can reduce the unrealistic expectations that people should be "romantic" with gifts and dramatic gestures, able to read the other person's mind - and fill other people's voids. Instead it is up to each individual in a partnership to identify and express their own wants and needs to the other - romantic and otherwise.

Wheel of Life Template Exercise Page 1

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The Final Word:

It's not romance any of us really want but intimacy. We want to feel safe being ourselves, to be seen, to feel that we are loved and accepted - no matter what. And whilst a partner can help us with this, we must start with taking care and learning to do this for ourselves.

Get Your Updated "Wheel of Life Template" here >> (without any mention of Romance!)

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