PREVIOUS: #1 Initiating
♥ ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥ indicated by types of Communication
2. EXPERIMENTING (Potential)
a. Normal: Time for small talk, presenting our public face. The focus is on light, humorous, informative conversation:
“ Did you like Thai food?” <> “I don’t know – never tried it” . “I went to France this summer” <> “Really! I’ve always wanted to go there! Tell me about it”
• There is mutual attraction & also a desire to reduce uncertainly about one another. Telling more about oneself implies an increase in trust, & we expect others to do the same – so that neither will feel too vulnerable
• People use (secret) tests to check how attentive the other person is by how they respond to what we say (laugh at our jokes, respect our boundaries…). Each has certain expectations of the other, which must be met for our interest to continue : being upbeat, neatly dressed, polite, interesting ….
b. ACoAs: People give us info about themselves all the time – by their presentation, their actions & of course words — their tastes, interests, like & dislikes… and we need to PAY ATTENTION!
Yes, it takes months of regular contact to get a realistic picture of the other person, but we can glean a great deal from each conversation right from the beginning.
So after every encounter, always ASK:
“What did I learn about them? How did I feel when I was with them, & afterward? Are they moving too fast? How do they handle situations & other people?”
✶ How much are they truly reciprocating, or am I the only one sharing – OR only them?
If so – we can take that as a warning sign. They’re either too scared or too self-centered. If we proceed, we have to accept the consequences.
➼ This constant evaluation is crucial for us to do at each stage, because ACoAs have such strong training & defenses against seeing others accurately. If the WIC likes someone AND they feel familiar (in some way like our family), WE may :
i. be in ‘Lala Land’ = don’t want to know they may not be an appropriate fit, especially if we feel a very strong pull – so we idealize them, convinced they’re ‘the one’, or a BFF… Actually, at this stage it’s just too early to know for sure
ii. get “the ICKs” (scroll down) = If we’re not quite comfortable with them, but they’re not blatantly abusive, we need time to find out if it’s because –
— the WIC &/or PP is acting up – with self-hate, lack of trust, old buttons triggered, our FoA, weak boundaries…
— the person is actually icky in some way – their damage is showing & we’re picking it up, but can’t verbalize it yet
— they’re genuinely NOT suited to our True Self, no matter how smart, competent, nice, or how much they may like us.
SO – we wait & LISTEN, hopefully with a clear, fair & open mind
IMPORTANT – Going slowly will allow us to:
• see how much like our family they are or aren’t (requires knowing ourself well, & paying attention to every interaction with the other person)
• find out if they are genuinely compatible with our Real Self
• observe if they can truly see us for who we are, value, admire & respect us – realistically, not just for what we can give them
• how well or badly they handle our damage/ defects
• what their character defects are, & how it will impact us over time
• see if their positives outweigh the negatives (which everyone has), so that being with them will add value to our life
• how capable & willing are they to take responsibility for their own life, so we don’t have to rescue or clean up after them
ALSO, if they have a spiritual life, is it internalized? does it show in the way they live? or is it just another band-aid or diversion from unresolved deeper issues
NOTE: When someone has too many negatives – no matter how much we like or love them – they’re unsafe to be with! Take stock & be honest with yourself. Get a trusted 2nd & 3rd opinion! If we ACoAs are willing to take these stages a little at a time & ‘stay awake; with many of our relationships – we’ll save ourself a lot of heartache!
NEXT: Part 3 – Intensifying, Integrating