January 4, and new things are happening. Some will be starting a new relationship with someone, whether it’s a girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever, there are things that need to be evaluated to determine if this is good or not so good for you. You want this to be YOUR YEAR right?
A friend within the marriage movement, Dr. John Van Epp, has studied extensively in the area of the Relationship Attachment Model. When I first heard him explaining it, I was amazed at how practical this information was for me personally but also for many out there that are forming relationships.
If I may, I would like to refer you to his website, http://www.lovethinks.com/ so that you can explore it further. You might want to invest in his book, I think it’s one of the most practical ones out there to prevent bad relationships from the start. Here is a brief and basic description of what this theory is all about:
There are five areas that are basic for a healthy relationship to form. The first area is just getting to know someone. If you don’t know someone you really don’t have a relationship with them, right. But how long does it take to get to KNOW someone? According to John, this usually takes 3-6 months. You Really need to know someone before you trust them. To have a good trust in someone it usually takes at least 3 months, and then another 3 months to rely on that person. If this is a healthy relationship you will then start committing to this person such as they are the only one that you are with, engagement then possibly marriage, then when there is a healthy level of commitment, the sexual involvement begins to grow stronger. So the various levels rise slowly in slightly a stair step fashion when you develop that “Healthy” relationship in which there is less likelihood of harm.
I want to talk about just getting to know someone. As I was teaching this to some 17-20 year olds I had a young boy ask me how long does it take to get to know someone before getting sexually involved. I told him my standard answer as in above and he shared that he had gotten to KNOW his girlfriend in one day. He might have thought that, but can you really know someone in one day? (I think he was trying to test me). I have had times that I have spent a two hour plane flight with someone and they have shared their story and felt like I really knew them. I jokingly say “I’ve just met my new BEST Friend”. You can share a lot with a person on a plane ride, especially when someone appears interested. But to really know someone you need to know them in all kinds of situations and circumstances. What are they like when they are by themselves? What are they like around you’re family, how about their family, and friends? What about on the job with others? If you can experience a lot of different situations with that person you have a clearer understanding of who they really are.
But, the problem is, many times we don’t want to judge. We want to look at things with rose colored glasses. We have been conditioned to believe that this kind of judging is wrong. I just heard Dave Ramsey say, “I am told in the Bible to JUDGE”. This would be discernment. Would you go around telling others what a rotten person they are? No, that’s gossiping. Keeping your eyes open to determine if “that’s the person they say they are”. I am very careful to choose my friends, if I know that they have not been trustworthy in the past, I will be an acquaintance, but I won’t share the deep secrets of my heart with them. If I know that they have a record of poor relationship choices, I don’t choose to reject them, but I do choose to be very cautious leaving my guard up when I’m with them. That is not really a concept that is taught today. We have been lead to believe that we are judging in these situations and we have been told that is wrong. But is it?
One of my favorite writers is Malcolm Gladwell. One of the books he wrote Blink talks about when we have had an experience that has been negative or positive in the past, our brain registers this and we tend to judge situations by our past experiences. I believe that God has put this into our brains to help protect us. We learn from past experiences. But if those past experiences have not been placed there or have not been taught, there is a great chance that a person will make some risky choices. We girls have this ability called “women’s intuition” that is part of this. But this part of our brain helps us by putting up red flags or feelings that should make us question.
IF that ability is not there, then you need to listen to others. What I tell my kids, you need to listen to those that REALLY love you more than anyone else, i.e. family and sometimes friends, who have proven they are there for you no matter what. If they are telling you don’t hang out with that person, open your ears and listen. They are probably trying to help you.
Getting to know anyone is just the first step in new relationships. I’ll continue more of this later. Hope I didn’t overwhelm you by this information. I just know how helpful it is to so many people and really wanted to share.