A tendency to share the least with the people we are "closest"

Ever spill your guts to a stranger? And then say you are the only person that I have ever told that to. Ever wonder why did I do that?

Our investment in a relationship with a stranger is less. As we invest more and more in a relationship, it becomes more risky to expose ideas and feelings that are out of the box. There is a marriage at stake. We don't want to threaten the friendship. So there is a tendency to become less vulnerable and honest as the investment in the relationship increases. Unfortunately, this tendency to stay safe keeps the relationship superficial.

But it doesn't have to be this way. People in strong and vital relationships continually take risks with each other. Each person exposes vulnerabilities trusting the other will accept that part of them.

Before any of this can happen, the relationship has to feel safe. To create emotional safety (also known as trust), we have to resist sarcastic and flippant comments when the other person is being real. When someone is vulnerable it often stirs up feelings in us. If we are not paying attention, we unconsciously say something to shut them down- so we do not have to feel. There is no place for cleverness, criticism, or advice when someone is sharing. One snide comment can shut the other person down. Then we are back to being superficial.

So at any given moment, we choose being close or superficial in our relationships. Closeness requires taking emotional risks and embracing whatever the other shares about herself. You cannot have both at the same time- you have to choose.

Choosing closeness means we are not left with sharing the things most precious to us in the line at the grocery store or when we drink too much.

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