The social aspect of our lives is undeniably important for our well-being and happiness. People who have strong connections with others report higher levels of happiness. Relationships can also be challenging at times, and can be a source of unhappiness if we don’t know much about them.
Levels of Relationships
Relationships move through several stages or levels, ranging from casual acquaintances to close intimate relationships. When we first meet someone, we exchange information and learn more about each other. Some relationships don’t progress any further. We might not ever see the person again, or they may be a casual acquaintance. Others move through the levels as a relationship grows. Sharing information about yourself is called self-disclosure, and knowing what to share and when is an important relationship skill to develop.
Level One includes casual acquaintances: classmates, group members, neighbors. At this level, we share our public self: observable general knowledge. We may make small talk about the weather, our jobs, sports, etc.
Level Two -Friends & Family: co-workers, cousins, aunts & uncles, nephews & nieces. We share the personal self: opinions, beliefs, and might discuss events and news.
Level Three -Close Friends, Immediate Family. We share the private self: ideas and problems, and might ask for advice or share what’s going on in your life.
Level Four -Intimate Relationships: a spouse or partner, best friends. We share the intimate self: reactions, thoughts & feelings, needs & wants. Explore deeper questions about goals, challenges, emotions.
Cultivating Relationships – Plant a garden
For a relationship to grow, it must be cultivated and tended to carefully. To cultivate a relationship, plant seeds of conversation with kindness, and attention. Sprinkle them with shared experiences and time. Fertilize them with caring and thoughtfulness, and add plenty of the sunshine of laughter. Pull out weeds of conflict that can strangle healthy flowers with lots of good communication. The closer the relationship, the more time and attention is needed to maintain the closeness.
How to Make a Friend
•Be the kind of person you would like to have as a friend
•Join a group to meet others with similar interests
•Be friendly-greet people, smile, use their name, make conversation
•Be interesting-share ideas & thoughts
•Invite people to join you for activities you enjoy
•Spend time together
•Be kind and thoughtful. Call, email, send cards and gifts on special occasions
Learn more at Don’t Wait, Relate, Develop a Support System, Making Connections, Communicate Well, and with Smart Skills Trading Cards on Relationships,
Conversation Starters and Relate Pinterest Boards, and The Science of Making Friends from the Wall Street Journal.