7 LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIP
Have you ever heard where two people who did not know each other got hooked to get married by a third party/mutual friend?
I know I have. In my line of work I have seen quite a number of these sort of relationships.
Some of them are long-distance relationships and they are so distant they never met before they got hooked.
Some others get intimate on social media without even meeting each other. In some cases these kind of relationships work, but from my experience I have seen that this is the exception and not the rule.
To build anything on the exception is usually a recipe for disaster.
So the rule of thumb is you pass through a trajectory of different cadres or levels of friendship that will then culminate in marriage.
There are 7 levels of friendship on the curve that leads to marriage.
In this article we look take a detailed look at each of them.
LEVEL 1:- STRANGER
A person at this level is not obviously not a friend, but considering that everything going forward is built on it it is a good place to start.
Considering that everyone you have ever met in your life started off as a stranger we might as well add this as the first.
We meet people at different places; on our first day at school or in the class where we attended a professional course, on the airplane or in a taxi cab, in a shopping mall or at the hair salon, we meet people everyday and most of them are total strangers to us.
Usually some of these strangers fit into an appraisal system we have coded in our minds that we instinctively deploy when we see people we do not know.
We tend to unconsciously pass everyone we encounter through this mental appraisal mould and we run them through the parameters of our specifications.
If for instance you are a man (full blooded man that is) or a woman and you saw a lady or guy you did not know you would appraise her/him on the basis of your preferences with regard to her/his height, build, face, shape, the way she/he sounds, and any other standard you hold. In a matter of seconds she/he would have been weighed on your mental scale and on the basis of your appraisal (many times on a scale of 1-10) you will decide whether the individual is worth a second look.
There might be times when the situation does not give you the time nor latitude to properly appraise the person at first glance but generally everyone starts at this point.
Depending on what the chemistry is like and the terms of engagement you might exchange numbers, addresses, and other personal details
LEVEL 2:- ACQUAINTANCE
This level is the second and although the person is not quite yet your buddy and still has a way to go before he/she can become your chum you can at least identify him/her as an acquaintance. An acquaintance is a person one knows slightly, such a person is a contact but is not qualified to be referred to as a friend.
They might be people whose personal details you may or may not have, but they are definitely people you will recognize and be familiar with. It could be that lady you always “run into” at the hair salon (we probably need to start asking you what in the world a full grown man like you keeps looking for at a hair salon, she probably wonders too, or doesn’t) or at the shopping mall. It could be that guy you see every now and then when you are hanging with your girls at your favorite place. The thing that is usually a common denominator in all such cases is that you know or at least can recognize them.
LEVEL 3: SPARSE FRIENDSHIP
I call this level a sparse friendship because it is the sort of friendship where you meet up with someone today and after a really long while he/she is out of the picture. This person is never really in the zone and is more like a kind of “now you see me now you don’t” kinda person, if you know what I mean.
You bump into this person when you happen to be in his/her city or area, and this bumping into each other is mostly accidental.
Now sometimes it might not be accidental as one party is really trying to see if something can come out of it but the other party is not as committed to or interested in what the first wants.
So if you are at this level of friendship with someone you both might have gone beyond the acquaintance level but there still is work to do if either party is interested in pushing it.
LEVEL 4: CASUAL FRIENDSHIP
So at this level the ice is thinning but there is no heat just yet. You are at the point where you say- “Who knows? Let’s see how things go”. And so you and your target (some of you probably feel like you are hunters now) are casual friends; you can call ourselves pals at this point and you probably know some stuff about each other that is more than just objective. You know some of the other person’s likes and dislikes, you know their hobbies, favorite sports team, political affiliations and so on; you know at least enough to have a decent conversation.
At this point I will bring in a brief interlude here so I can talk about something that is really important in friendship.
It’s called Disclosure. In every relationship there must be disclosure but this usually happens at different phases that are mostly in consonance with varying levels of friendship.
Let me explain. There are- 3 STAGES OF DISCLOSURE
I call them- the vision stage, the retrospect stage, and the moment stage.
Whoever you are disclosing to would ordinarily have to qualify for each succeeding stage of disclosure. Each stage of disclosure corresponds with some levels of friendship.
The vision stage is usually a disclosure of what a person wants to do in the future. The retrospect stage is the disclosure of certain things that have happened in the past. Then the moment stage speaks entirely about what is presently happening in a person’s life.
**There are requirements for each stage of disclosure (see the end of the page)
LEVEL FIVE: CLOSE FRIENDSHIP
This is where you guys are really chummy with each other. You are close friends and have hit deeper levels of disclosure. You know lots of subjective stuff about each other and might have gotten to the point where you are ready to take the plunge; however you must at this point also ensure no one friend zones you without being ready to make the big commitment. If you are a girl and the guy isn’t ready to pop the question or y’all just have not gotten to that stage where you are both ready to commit then he shouldn’t be taking you around everywhere like a colonial master.
However the truth is if you have a group of people from the opposite sex who fit the profile of close friends then you have a beautiful pool to pick from when it’s time to get settled. It really is a good place to be.
LEVEL SIX: INTIMACY
The etymology of the word “intimacy” points us to the Greek word “intimos” which literally means innermost. At this point the friendship is where people are “naked and not ashamed”.
Usually when we hear the word “intimacy” most people think of sexual interactions but there are different types of intimacy that would eventually lead to sexual intimacy that will be worthwhile.
There is spiritual intimacy and emotional intimacy, before physical intimacy. At the level of intimacy both individuals bare all to each other and it’s a union of hearts as both beat as one. There is a level of understanding that comes at this level and this understanding is so deep that each party is able to predict the other’s next move.
There is such an amity, a kindred spirit, and affinity between both people at this point that the level of detailed knowledge each has of the other will lead very logically to only one conclusion.
LEVEL 7: MARRIAGE
Marriage can occur before any form of intimacy is built, and more intimacy will definitely be built as the proper building blocks are laid so it isn’t necessarily as though intimacy preceding marriage automatically translates to no intimacy after marriage. If the marriage is properly established intimacy will keep increasing, and it should too because it is expected that the couple will get closer to each other as their love matures.
Although we have not said that any marriage that does not go through the 7 level sequence will not succeed it goes without saying that those who follow it are more inclined to have a good marriage than those that do not.
I trust this article was helpful. I am looking forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions. Help spread this blog to all your links and friends.
Cheers and God bless.
**When you attend any of our “Life on Target” relationship life class conferences or buy our “Life on Target” relationship life class materials we will help you run these tests and tell you in a much more detailed form exactly what these stages entail and which level of friendship they correspond with.