Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Connectedness vs. Independence

Another "life value" that you'll want to share in order to have long-term relationship success is your preference for connectedness.

This area can be represented as a wheel with a series of spokes of different lengths. When you overlay your wheel onto hers they should be close to identical. Each spoke represents a different aspect of social connectedness.

One spoke represents how closed your social network is. Some people prefer a fairly closed system of interaction. They are very close to their family of origin and keep in contact with extended family as well. The friends they have outside of their relations are often people they’ve known for a very long time--from college, high school or even kids they met at the National Spelling Bee in fifth grade. The more open your system, the more diverse your friends are and the more people you come into contact with and develop relationships with. The more open your system, the longer the spoke.

The second spoke represents how much of a homebody you are. Would you rather stay in on the weekend or have a party or two to attend? When you go to a party, do you enjoy hanging around with the people you already know, or do you prefer talking to people you haven’t met before? Would you rather entertain in your own home, or go to someone else’s? The more of a social butterfly you are, the longer this spoke is.

The third spoke represents how much alone time you need. Do you prefer living alone to living with a roommate? Do you need a bit of peace and quiet and no social interaction when you first come home from work? The more alone time you need, the shorter your spoke.

The last spoke represents your level of independence versus interdependence. Do you prefer to complete work projects by yourself or with a group or committee? Would you rather fix the toilet by yourself or have a friend join you? If you’re trying to lose weight, do you do it quietly by yourself, or do you need someone to encourage and/or keep you accountable? The more independent you are, the shorter this spoke is.

The more similar you are along each of these spokes, the less you have to deal with the pursuer-distancer dance. If you both enjoy the same amount of alone time, together time and social time, then neither of you will feel suffocated by the other (the pursuer) and neither of you will feel alienated by the other (the distancer).

I'll be on hiatus for the next two weeks, but when I return, I'll discuss another Life Value, The Meaning of Life.

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