Worthy friends are easy to find with this technique

Friday, February 15, 2008 | 4:00 p.m. CST; updated 3:33 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here is a way to pick the right person for the right relationship. The idea is from a game called Pachinko — a Chinese slot machine game. Relationships sometimes seem like such a gamble. To pick the right person for the right relationship, however, try playing “Relationship Pachinko.” In Relationship Pachinko, the goal is to define the different types of relationships you have, how you act differently in each, how others must act to be in them with you and how we transition from one type or level to another.

Relationship Pachinko Components:

  • The different types or levels of relationships
  • The behaviors and activities that define each type of relationship
  • The transition from one type or level of relationship to another

The Different Types or Levels of Relationships

Relationship Pachinko defines five basic kinds of relationships. There are more than five kinds of relationships, but for the purposes of understanding the concept of picking the right person for the right relationship, using the five basic types is convenient and relevant.

Five relationship types: acquaintances, professional relationships, friends, close friends, and intimates.

What defines different types of relationships are the behaviors and activities of both partners. We should behave differently in different types of relationships, and likewise, we should expect certain behaviors from others based on the type of relationship we have with them. When we are trying to pick the right person for the right relationship, we must consider the things we do (observable behaviors and activities) and also consider the same of other people as well.

For instance, when we decide somebody is a friend, we should do so because we are aware of and have listed some rules about how we behave with people that we define or want to define as friends. We should also decide a person is a friend by observing and defining the other person’s behaviors and activities. Picking the right person for the right relationship involves doing this in the right order. It is only after we see a person demonstrating our self-defined friend behaviors and activities that we should begin acting like a friend with them. We often pick the wrong person for a relationship when we act as a friend before we see the other person show friend-type behaviors. In short, we should have expectations of how potential friends should behave. After we see them behave in that way, we can safely follow suit. The same principle applies to the other relationship types.

Key to picking the right person for the right relationship is to know what behavior defines each type of relationship. Here are some ideas:

Acquaintances — The first type or level of a relationship is acquaintance. Everyone in the world has the potential to be an acquaintance. Acquaintances are formed because we meet people. There might be some other rules for becoming an acquaintance. What does it take for someone to move from stranger into an acquaintance role?

We should also define rules for our behaviors and activities with acquaintances. To do so we need to ask and answer certain questions.

How do I behave with acquaintances?

Do I go over to their houses alone?

Do I invite them over to my house, whether I am alone or they are alone?

Do I give them my phone number?

We should write rules for our behavior with acquaintances based on our morals, values and expectations for this relationship. We should also know what to expect of other people we consider to be good candidates for becoming an acquaintance. We should define whom we want as acquaintances and whom we do not want as acquaintances.

Do I become an acquaintance of mass murderers or rapists?

Do I become an acquaintance of a person who speaks a different language?

Do I become an acquaintance of a person with a different socioeconomic status?

What does it feel like when I am with this person?

What I do in this relationship?

We need to define expected and acceptable behaviors to understand who is an acquaintance versuswho is not. Here are some questions that might help understand and define the difference:

What does someone have to do to be an acquaintance?

What don’t you do?

What can someone do that will disqualify him or her from this type of relationship?

What that has happened in the past will disqualify a person from this type of relationship with you?

What types of behaviors, when interacting with you, would disqualify this person?

What types of behaviors, when interacting with others, would disqualify this person from this type of relationship?

By following a similar process for each of the other types of relationships mentioned earlier, you can put the right person in the right relationship.

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