Based on ‘The Relationship CONTINUUM’: 8 stages from Stranger to Intimacy – Please Review CHART
Communication Indicators of ATTACHMENT – This & the next 3 posts deal with verbal & psychological markers of progressive attachment or dissolution, ie. moving toward or away from intimacy. It covers all types of one-to-one relationships (friends, lovers, co-workers, additions to family…).
➼ Each Cycle consists of INFO which is: 1. received 2. absorbed and contemplated 3. understood 4. replied to
• There are a variety of theories about how people grow together, over time, including ‘peeling the onion’ of each others’ personalities the more time we spend with them
• The NORMAL section for each set is based on the work of Mark Knapp & Anita Vangelisti (2000), from the Communication field
• For Section A there’s an additional term, in parenthesis, from the Inter-Personal Psychology field
♥ ACTS of AFFILIATION ♥
1. INITIATING (Non-existent)
a. Normal : With people we’re vaguely aware of – communications will be rote formulae: “How are you?” <> “Fine, & you?” , “What’s with this weather?” <> “Too much!”
Hallmark: interest & curiosity. If we notice someone we want to know more about – we use polite, socially appropriate statements to show interest: “Hi my name’s George. Is this your first time here?” , “Would you like to dance?” – waiting to see how they respond. If it’s positive, we have time to form additional first impressions & evaluate each other. Initial interest is governed by:
• Self-concept, which includes sexual orientation, socio-economic class, race… (we rarely move toward someone ‘way out of our league’)
• Proximity – in person - where we work, shop, live, go to school or church, MeetUps, meetings, dances… or in cyberspace, using social media, dating sites, chat rooms …
• Similarity – studies show people tend to form connections with others of similar attractiveness, interest, intelligence values….
Hallmark: interest & curiosity.
b. ACoAs - Although some of us find it difficult to initiate conversation with strangers because of fear, many ACoAs have learned to open a dialogue in these ways, but as usual bring our own twist to it. In any group setting we unconsciously scan the room & without even realizing, will be pulled to the ONE person who is the most damaged, the least likely to be nice to or interested in, us — another ACoA & probably an addict of some type. We may not even have heard their voice – but we KNOW!
✶✶ In early recovery one young woman decided her temporary rule was: “If I like him, he’s bad for me!” As she recovered, her ‘picker’ got better.
2. EXPERIMENTING (Potential)
a. Normal: Time for small talk, presenting our public face. The focus is on light, humorous, informative conversation: “ Did you like Thai food?” <> “I don’t know – never tried it” . “I went to France this summer” <> “Really! I’ve always wanted to go there! Tell me about it”.
• There is mutual attraction & also a desire to reduce uncertainly about one another. Telling more about oneself implies an increase in trust & we expect others to do the same so that neither will feel too vulnerable
• People use (secret) tests to check how attentive the other person is by how they respond to what we say (laugh at our jokes, respect our boundaries…). Each has certain expectations of the other, which must be met for our interest to continue, such as: being upbeat, neatly dressed, polite, interesting ….
b. ACoAs: People give us info about themselves all the time – by their presentation, their actions & of course words — their tastes, interests, like & dislikes… and we need to PAY ATTENTION! Yes, it takes months of regular contact to get a realistic picture of the other person, but we can glean a great deal from each conversation right from the beginning. So after every encounter, always ask yourself: “What did I learn about them? How did I feel when I was with them, & afterward? Are they moving too fast? How do they handle situations?”
✶ How much are they truly reciprocating or are we the only ones sharing? If so – we can take that as a warning sign. They’re either too scared or too self-centered. If we proceed, we have to accept the consequences. ➼ This constant evaluation is crucial for us to do at each stage, because ACoAs have such strong training & defenses against seeing others accurately. If the WIC likes them AND they feel familiar (in some way like our family), we’ll have one of 2 reactions:
i. be in ‘Lala Land’: we don’t want to know that they may not be an appropriate fit, especially if we feel a very strong pull towards them – so we idealize them, convinced they’re ‘the one’, or a BFF… Actually, at this stage it’s just too early to know for sure
ii. get “the ICKs” : If we’re not quite comfortable with them, but they’re not blatantly abusive, we need time to find out if it’s because -
• the WIC &/or PP is acting up – with self-hate, lack of trust, old buttons getting pushed, our FoA, weak boundaries…
• OR the person is actually icky in some way we can’t yet explain – their damage is showing & we’re picking it up, but can’t verbalize it yet
• OR, they are genuinely NOT suited to our Truest Self, no matter how smart, competent, nice — or how much they may like us
SO – we wait & LISTEN, hopefully with a clear, fair & open mind
Part 2: Intensifying, Integrating, Bonding