First you see or hear of someone. Then you meet them. Then you become an acquaintance. Then you do the hard work (or sometimes easy depending on who it is) of getting to know them.
What comes next?
Know What They Are About
When you enter this level, you have not left the level of Getting to Know Someone. Actually, the last four levels are only higher stages within that level.
You never really stop getting to know an individual. Why? Because, as your relationship grows you both change. It is inevitable that you and the other person are going to adapt to certain situations.
Also, people usually do not lay all their “personal cards” on the table. There is some area or areas they continue to hold close to them. We will get back to this.
While you are in this stage, if you are attentive to it, you will begin to understand what makes this person you are in relationship with tick. What gets them up in the morning? What do they enjoy? What frustrates them? What kind of hobbies do they have? What are some of their pitfalls?
What do they define as success in their life? What kind of friend do they need? What are the goals they have set for themselves? And the list can go on…
The key word here is “WHAT”.
It is all part of understanding the person you are adopting as friend. You will find similarities you have – whether it is in opinion, history, philosophy, faith, etc.
You will also discover traits or characteristics you are not in agreement with. When you do discover this, you need to make a decision as to whether you will simply accept this negative trait or influence this friend and help them overcome it.
CAUTION: Your friend must know this negative trait and they must desire to work on it or change it. Otherwise, it may cause a rift in the developing relationship.
Know WHO Someone Is
This level is one step above knowing what someone is about. At this level you start (and continue to learn) to get an understanding about why this person does life they way they do it.
Why do they respond in certain ways to specific events or circumstances? Why is it they may react positively or negatively to the same situation someone else may normally react opposite?
What is their thought process?
At this stage it may be common for you both to finish each other’s sentences. It may also be common for you to be able to speak on behalf of that friend, because you know how they may respond.
CAUTION: Just do so with great care. A mistake here could set back your relationship or even stall it.
This level is where you have the realization they are what and who they say they are. There is a revelation into the nature of your friendship and the feeling that as long as we maintain healthy communication and boundaries, we could be friends for a very long time.
Someone you can call FRIEND
This is simple. If you have made it to the Knowing WHO Someone Is level, more than likely you have already started calling them “Friend”.
A friend is someone who accepts you just as you are, but is not afraid to call you on your issues. There is a trust that has grown to the point where you can share personal, confidential information and believe it will stop there.
You can also rest assured they will not judge you for your actions, but share their opinion in love to give you a healthy, balanced view of you.
We throw this term around WAY too often. It is a term that should only be used when it is understood mutually that this is the nature of the relationship.
When you vouch for your friend, you believe they will represent your opinion of them well and represent themselves in an honorable way. Besides, your own reputation is on the line when you call them friend.
A friend at this level will sense when something is amiss in your life. When you are down, they know it. When you are happy, they celebrate with you. When you are sad, they listen and allow you to cry – but not for long. When you are in need of a push, they provide motivation.
Then, at some point – and no one can really say for sure when this happens in any relationship – you move on to the highest level of relationship…
Someone You Can Call Family
At this level, the boundaries are all but removed. Sure, you still respect the relational boundaries, but truth, honesty, opinions, issues; NOTHING is off the table for discussion here.
You know that even if you yell, get into a disagreement, or even become separated by circumstance or miles, if they needed you, you would be there for them. This doesn’t mean you will fly 2000 miles, but it means you are there for them emotionally.
If it is possible to be there in person, then you do it. However, miles should NEVER be an excuse not to pick up a phone, talk about your feelings no matter how irrational.
There are some people in our lives that describe family as only those who are blood related, or married into. I would like to blow that definition right out of the water. Sure, being blood related or related by marriage technically makes you family. It does not mean you have developed the relationship through all 8 of these levels.
For example, I found out last summer that I have a cousin whom I have NEVER met. I just heard about her and saw her on Facebook.
I cannot expect her or her expect of me that we are at the highest level of relationship simply because we have a common bloodline. It will take time and a mutual desire to walk through the levels of relationship.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about these 8 levels of relationship. Offer your opinions about the levels, share with us. Or email me at TheSophosGroup@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!