I’ve been reading a lot about making connections in my self-aware repertoire of books and thought I might share some of the concepts I’ve learned throughout my life and in my readings. I will have written a bit about this in my post on ‘Boundaries’ and today’s blog will hopefully progress from there. First of all, I’d like to share a concept map of relationships and then we can hopefully explore how I think it works and, possibly, you can share some of your ideas and experiences in the comments. (I love to read about your ideas and experiences and actually wish more people would respond, but everyone has to do what feels most comfortable for them. I guess, I would challenge you to take a risk though, and speak your mind.)
It is important to understand that people can move in and out of the circles at any given time. People from the Danger (Stranger) Zone can eventually become Good and Dependable and the reverse could also happen if someone were to betray your trust. These zones are not static; they are interchangeable. People move in and out of the circles, sometimes according to your needs, but also in response to how they have proven their trust or mistrust.
Intimate & Loyal: You can likely guess that this inner circle is where all your closest friends appear. It will usually be the smallest group that you form. It is a place where you can share anything and that the sharing is mutual. I believe that this is a place to begin being authentic, if you are on that path, and can help you stretch your comfort zone of authenticity onto the next level.
Good & Dependable: This group of friends will be slightly bigger and might contain friends that will eventually become more intimate. It may also offer you the possibility of becoming authentic and may help you weed out the loyal from the dependable. One thing about both of these groups, I believe, is that they are good practice arenas for authenticity.
Aquaintances: This is likely where most of your friends will appear. You know them and hang with them on occasion, but they haven’t quite made it into your inner circles–at least not yet. They are possibilities. They will likely intrigue you or you might find them difficult to be around but you haven’t put them in the danger or dependable zones quite yet. They might be friends of closer friends. This group of friends might be riskier to be authentic with, but authenticity will help you process which way on the relationship circle you wish to move them.
Beware: Danger Zone: I would equate this with a Stranger Zone, which is self-explanatory. I’m not sure I agree with putting all the strangers into a zone labelled danger. If we do that, we spend too much time being fearful of people we don’t know. I think a certain amount of openness with strangers is beneficial if we are going to grow. I would NOT however share my innermost secrets with them. Even when I blog, I only share what I have already worked through and wish to disclose for the purpose of helping others.
The important lesson here is that we all need connection with others to survive, but that we have different levels of those connections. With each level, we set different boundaries and take different risks. It is important not to take too many risks with people we aren’t sure about as they can betray our confidence and will leave us feeling vulnerable. Identifying your friends in the manner above can help you set healthy boundaries about what you share and can be useful if you are struggling with such limitations. Be brave but careful. Take risks and, most importantly, be authentic!
peace balance empathy