FIML is different from anything you’ve done before. Our society, as well as probably every other society that has ever existed, offers no real encouragement or training in this type of communication. Consequently, when you first read about FIML you may struggle to fit it into some familiar category. Well, here are some:
Science – FIML can be conceived as a sort of interpersonal scientific method.
Like science, the process is rational and can be explained to, and practiced by, anyone. It is not the exclusive property of some esoteric priestly class.
FIML is based on data. In this case, the data is the contents of your mind and that of your partner. You and your partner will attempt to be objective about these data and check your interpretations against each other.
FIML does not ask the practitioner to banish his/her emotions, just as “science” makes no such request of the scientist. Rather, the point is to “hold your emotions in abeyance” while data is gathered, i.e., while you ask your partner what they meant.
It is considered good science to test a hypothesis and find out that it’s wrong. Likewise in FIML, you will find that your interpretations about what the other person said/meant will many times be proved wrong, or at least partially wrong, when you “test” them, i.e. query your partner.
FIML inquiries are not scientific experiments that can be replicated by others. We are dealing with the unique dynamics between unique individuals. However, the general results of increased interpersonal understanding and decreased neuroticism should be replicable by anyone, if FIML is practiced correctly.
Romance – This may be hard to see at first, but FIML is indeed deeply romantic. By querying your partner, you will gain insights that are simply impossible under the constraints of ordinary communication. You will come to know him/her better.
But at the same time, you will become more aware of how little you know.
You will find over and over again that your neurotic interpretations – about what the other person meant when they said this or what they were thinking when they did that – are wrong. The self-centered tales you’ve woven will unravel as neurotic “certainty” is replaced by doubt. You will be filled with a most pleasant sense of disorientation.
You will begin to see your partner as a continually unfolding, tantalizing mystery. And that’s exactly what they are. What could be more romantic?
Entertainment – Humans spend lots of time and money to be entertained. Movies, TV shows, concerts, art galleries, sporting events, strip clubs, restaurant meals, vacations… Friends, couples and family members commonly engage in these kinds of activities together, activities that almost seem designed to supplant real communication between people.
I would love to better understand why we’re like this but that’s a topic for another post.
What I want to say here is that FIML is not just to be thought of as some serious endeavor. It is also a lot of fun. The little dramas you uncover/create with your partner will be much more interesting than anything on TV or in the movies. Don’t be surprised if those dramas start to appear cartoonishly simplistic by comparison.
You will gradually acquire a more appropriate sense of your own ridiculousness.
Perhaps most significantly: Insofar as FIML is a form of entertainment, it is one that you and your partner actively engage in. You will not just be sitting there, passively absorbing someone else’s ideas.