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Sorting your Circle: Friendship under the microscope

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Do you ever feel like some of your friendships are a little one-sided?

Do you have times where you support your friend through difficult times but then find yourself alone through tough times?

You are not alone. It is a lot more common than you’d expect, and it is not your fault.

This is where “sorting your circle” comes into play. 

This image outlines our circle of relationships. The closer to the centre, the closer the relationship. Each circle represents the different types of people we encounter within our lives. Below, we’ll look at each category in closer detail:

Exchange

  • Transactional 

  • Doctors

  • Hairdresser 

  • Dentist 

Participation

  • Acquaintances 

  • Have contact with them semi-regularly but don’t share very personal things.

Friend

  • Those you disclose personal things to. 

  • Trust

  • Equal relationship

Intimate

  • Closest Relationship 

  • Partner (if applicable)

  • Family (if applicable)

  • Your children (if applicable)

Note: some people have difficult relationships with their family members. Just because someone is a family member, does not mean that they should be categorised as an “intimate” relationship.

Sorting your circle

Now we have looked at the different types of relationships you have within your life, it is time to put them under a microscope. This allows you to categorise your relationships to allow you space to focus on the relationships that are fulfilling, balanced, and that nourish your mental wellbeing. 

Step one:

Make a list of everyone in your life. 

Many of us joke that we can count all the people we know on one hand, yet when you start to make this list, it will surprise you how many people you do know. 

Step two:

Begin thinking about those relationships and the characteristics of each. 

For example: My next door neighbour. We speak often, but I don’t share really personal information with them. 

Step three:

Begin to place each person in the above categories. 

Going back to our previous example: My next door neighbour. We speak often, but I don’t share really personal information with them. Therefore, I would place them in the participation category. Do this for all people on your list using our descriptions for each category and then move to step 4. 

Step four:

Take a second to look at those relationships. 

Is there anyone you would like to draw closer? Maybe someone who is currently in the participation category but you’d like to become friends? Write down what you need to do to strengthen that relationship. 

Step five:

Repeat regularly. 

We meet new people all of the time. Follow this process when you do. Relationships change often. Use this method to inspect those relationships impartially, deciding if there is something you can do to maintain the relationship or whether the person needs to change categories. This is okay. People change. We change. 

And finally… 

By following the above you will gain clarity and space to focus on the relationships that mean the most to you, whilst ensuring that you give the other person the right level of space, trust, and time which in turn gives you balance, greater mental wellbeing, and a better understanding of yourself and the relationships around you. 

If you find yourself feeling alone, PoetsIN has an incredibly inclusive, safe, and supportive community that you can join here: facebook.com/groups/poetsin.

Author: Sammie Adams, PoetsIN.

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