In our quest to develop a better relationship with a difficult person, we should be aware of some of the BASIC STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING INTIMATE FRIENDSHIPS. Developing a trusting relationship is a process that involves work. A true friend walks in when others walk out on us. Someone who is constantly trying to correct your faults is not a friend, just a critic. A friend who is really worth having is the one who listens to your deepest hurts, and feels that they are his too. Your deepest friend thinks you are a good egg - even though you might be slightly cracked. Em Griffin in his helpful book, Making Friends and Making Them Count, gives the following five stages for heightened relational involvement and five stages of voluntary or involuntary disengagement:
1. Initiating - Each person sees something in the other that they like. The person may notice that you are upbeat and pleasant as you open up to him or her through various channels of communication.
2. Experimenting - In an attempt to reduce uncertainty you begin to share a few facts about yourself to see how well they are received. This process of advertising gives the other person an opportunity to reciprocate with similar information.
3. Intensifying - Both people in the relationship begin to share more than facts, but feelings about things that are important to them. You begin to see where you can cooperate together in a specific topic, project, or sharing of experiences.
4. Integrating - Both people sense that they are fusing to one another around shared goals, attitudes, experiences, ideas, values, beliefs, and emotions.
5. Bonding - There actually becomes a public declaration of your commitment to one another. By declaring your unity in a partnership, announced friendship, or joint agreement you are cementing the relationship as something that both parties can rely on as secure.
6. Differentiating - A sense of "our" becomes "my". Both people experience periodic conflict and back off on any pressure to get deeper into one another's core realities.
7. Circumscribing - Each person protects their inner layers by avoiding sensitive topics. There is more of a hesitancy to reveal one's inner thoughts to each other.
8. Stagnating - There is nothing that you voluntarily prefer talking with one another. Both people are careful not to offend one another.
9. Avoiding - Both people feel negative vibrations from each other. Neither person wants to spend too much time with the other for fear that further offense may completely wreck the relationship that is left.
10. Terminating - Both people agree to part ways. Sometimes this can be a formal dissolution of an agreement, but usually it's a matter of drifting apart so that no real relationship is functioning.
Professor Griffin points out that the bad news about friendships is that very few relationships move from phase 1 through 5. Even fewer stay there. It is as if the natural laws of entropy apply not only to thermodynamics but to friendships as well. However, the good news is that through attraction, trust and transparency, people can buck the human entropy trend. No one drifts into closeness with other people. Even fewer people stay in close relationships unless there is a concerted effort to maintain intimate communications. Much of our closeness with others depends on how well we learn to practice accountability and forgiveness. (Making Friends and Keeping Them, P. 183)