<aside> 🚩 Flagship Game: The We-Ness by Albert Kong, Anne Selke, Joe Edelman, and Nathan Vanderpool Also Recommended: Why Not by Joe Edelman, Doubt Club by Joe Edelman, Tristan Harris, and Aza Raskin

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Our relationships with other people tend to be either contractual or capacious. With contractual relationships, we have certain expectations of one another, and the relationship continues as long as those expectations are fulfilled.

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You have a contractual relationship when you hire someone to clean your house or when you engage in polite conversation (guided by social norms) on a street corner. If ideologies bind your friend group together, those relationships become contractual. If your marriage or sex relationship is based on mutual expectations and satisfactions, it’s a kind of contract.

Contractual relationships form around goals. An expectation is a kind of goal.

But capacious relationships form around values. When people decide who they want to be with one another—whether they want to be kind, honest, independent, brutal, provocative, etc—the relationship becomes a venue for exploration of those values.

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And the organizing value of a capacious relationship might be capacity itself: the capacity of both people to grow through exposure to the consequences of their actions and to their emotions, and to learn from each other when their values shift.

When people feel capable of handling these shocks and changes, they don’t need the safety mechanism of contractualism. Thus people in a capacious relationship can afford to give each other the discretion to make their own choices and test their own values and live with meaning. Each person remains manoeuvrable (and they can manoeuvre together) even as they are exposed to grim truths.

But such capacity must be built. Careful work is required in order to foster the readiness to face this kind of exposure with one another . And it’s even harder in teams and networks than in individual relationships.

This slow process of building capacity is what limits our culture. It limits how much exposure, meaning, and discretion we can allow one another.

Activities for Building Capacious Relationships

Activities & Games


Future Togetherness Handbook

Ch 1. Against BS & Power Games

Ch 3. Remaining Experimental