Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finding "Safe People"

Today, while driving back, I heard a snippet of New Life Live, a Christian Counseling radio show, in which the host of the show told the caller how he slowly built new relationships. I didn't hear the caller's question, and not sure I understood him right but what he said blew my mind. Granted, it's not hard to blow my mind when it comes to relationships... but still... I thought I'd share his wisdom with you.

He told this caller (my words, not his) not to share too much information too soon, and that he (the host) often tests new friends over time to see whether they can be trusted to closer friends. He starts off with small confidences, see how this new person handles it, how they handle being told no, and whether they express concern about areas he's struggling with. He said the process often takes about two years to fully vet a new friend and determine that they are close enough to be considered "safe."

This resonates with me for two reasons:

  1. My first thought when he said that was, "2 years???" that's SO long!! I want a good friend NOW! Being a military brat, and having a mobile adult career, I've often moved so much that it's never occurred to me to take so long in making friends. I'm usually gone in 3-5 years, so I try and form friendships very quickly. I need to work on this.
  2. It's only recently occurred to me that one could vet people, make sure they're actually safe. Yet here was this man suggesting that very thing, as if it was ancient wisdom we should all have in our hip pockets. This year I've really been working on preventing myself from growing close to another person who wants to be close to me (because they are not safe). I'm realizing that most of the people I've associated with over the years don't validate me, or care about me. Most reinforce negativity in my life, use and/or abuse me, or simply associate with me when they can't find anyone else. While I hate being alone, I'm discovering that the time I do spend with people who are more safe is much more enjoyable and that helps balance out the alone time.

One of the people visiting the show was Dr John Townsend, who has written some books on determining whether someone is safe or not and how to set appropriate boundaries. I have not read them yet, but tonight added to my library search list. I learned a lot just from reading the Amazon comments, so I've pasted links to them below for you:

Dr. John Townsend


Leslie Ronald Howard said...

I delivered a couple boxes of food to a neighbor a while back. He told me he had been out taking care of some personal business, and with that, he yanked a stack of papers from a brief case and waved them in front of me.

The papers were the sum total of his retirement income. It made me nervous that he trusted me by showing me his very personal business.

Now, I worry about this elderly neighbor's safety. He may be too trusting. He has to live on that. What if he looses it?

You cannot test an acquaintance to see if they can become a friend. Part of the knowledge of friendship has to come from your gut. Part of it has to come from the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

It takes time and experience to really trust someone. This is a really good question.

To befriend or not to befriend...

SavedAspie said...

Thanks, Leslie, for the comment. You bring up such a good point- part of knowing when to trust comes from the Holy Ghost, and part from our own gut feelings... Many Aspies are like your neighbor: our gut is not properly calibrated, and we tend to trust too soon with too much.

Thanks for stopping by.


Fleecy said...

I'm the opposite of giving information, etc. I'm very distrustful of nearly everyone. But maybe some of that is related to how I was raised. Was basically raised in that kind of mindset - be cautious, suspect the worst.