Think of a relationship as a bathtub. Two people float and play and splash in a warm and comforting environment. Once in a while, one goes under, only to surface with a splutter, laughing. Or someone pees, tainting the water …
As in a real bathtub, differences regarding preferred temperature can arise. Sometimes when the relationship heats up—with affection and passion—one will cool things down with a blast of distancing or withdrawal. Some ambivalent partners are masters at keeping things perfectly lukewarm with judicious splashes of hot and cold.
Water is often used as a metaphor for emotion or situations. Falling in love is spoken of as going “off the deep end” or being “in over your head.” Off the deep end also refers to being extremely angry or upset. A warning of danger, of drowning in your emotions.
Maybe you are confused and “all at sea,” a phrase that conjures up a head bobbing in the middle of an empty ocean. Still on shore? “Put a toe in the water” or “test the waters” to see if you should proceed.
If you’re in trouble, you might be in “hot water.” Not getting along with someone? Perhaps you two are like “oil and water,” which may mix initially but eventually separate quite naturally. Perhaps you can make things better by “pouring oil on troubled waters.”
Some people like to discourage others. They can be said to “rain on your parade” or “throw cold water” on your ideas. But before you “throw the baby out with the bath water” (things were hot in that tub!), make sure you’re not discarding something of merit heedlessly.
Finally, one of the most beautiful analogies is when Jesus spoke of “rivers of living water” flowing from the bellies of believers. Here, water is likened to a state of grace, spiritual power, and love flowing through us to others. I’d like to fill a tub with that!