Levels of Connection
A lot of times, we can talk about relationships in all or nothing terms. If we ask questions like, “Do I trust this person?” or “Is this person a friend?” we usually think in yes or no terms. Yes, I trust them. Or no, I can’t trust them.
It can be more helpful to think about different levels of connection, as shown on the relationship map. It can be useful to see how we are closer to some people than others. It helps us:
- Recognize different boundaries with different people. How we interact with other people will depend on the level of closeness. It can change how much we share, how much time we spend with them, or how much we support them.
- Allow for relationships to change over time. Our closeness to certain people will naturally shift.4, 5 Your interests can change. An argument might change how you feel about them. You could spend less time together. Maybe you move away and can’t see them in person. These changes don’t have to mean the end of the relationship, but they can still affect the closeness level.
- Avoid unhealthy extremes. If we think about closeness in a yes/no way, it means we either trust someone completely or cut them off completely. If we trust someone too fast, before they've shown they are trustworthy, we could end up hurt by them. Or it could mean one argument ends a relationship, and we end up alone a lot.