It turned to be a lot of fun and downright cheeky! I used an idea from the 3D HR model by Gratton & Truss (2003) to build a friendship grid. Mind you, this grid is rather personal but I think many folks will find it useful as you can add and subtract as you please. There are a total of 8 segments with only 4 moving to the third dimension (a dimension of commitment, if you like) of loyalty and trust. Yes, you don’t have to trust everyone in quite the same way. I always think that with some modification to the grid, dysfunctional romantic relationships can be sniffed out! The horizontal alignment is based on common values and support for each other. Vertical alignment is based on mutuality of the friendship. Is one person doing all the work? I’ll break down what I’m thinking at the risk of being burned at the stake.
Low Loyalty & Trust
1. Friends for fun & laughter (High reciprocity, High alignment)
They are great fun to be with and they put you in a good mood. But there’s no psychological contract of loyalty and commitment. The misunderstanding comes when you start to have high expectations of these folks. Saying things like, “But she should have done this or known that.” No one owes anyone anything. In a way, it keeps things simple.
2. To-be-nurtured friendships (Low reciprocity, High alignment)
One person is doing all the work here. If that person is not me, this is one friendship I need to nurture. Perhaps some efforts from my side will lead to some kind of trust and loyalty. It may have something to do with past upsets and/or betrayals. But who knows where life will take us?
3. Passive acquaintances (High reciprocity, Low alignment)
We are always pleasant when we meet in parties, school pick-ups etc. But it really ends there. No hard feelings but you don’t know me and I don’t know you. Or maybe I do know you and I find we don’t have much in common.
4. Remind me why we are friends again? (Low reciprocity, Low alignment)
It can be argued that people like this should not be on the grid at all but I think that’s unfair to say. There are those that are in your life for whatever reason e.g. through a mutual friend, in-laws etc. You go out of your way for them because maybe there are related to you or to someone you know. They think they deserve it and you play along. Hmm, I’m beginning to see that “friends” may not be the right word here. Any ideas?
High Loyalty & Trust
5. Friends for life (High reciprocity, High alignment)
This speaks for itself. You’ve been through thin and thick together even if you don’t see them often, they know you and you are comfortable around each other. You don’t always agree but you always know they would never disrespect you intentionally and will support your dreams as you support theirs. For instance, I had a close friendship with someone that I only ever met once over 5 years! We talked over the phone and are still good friends now.
6. Stop taking and give more (Low reciprocity, High alignment)
This is a stern instruction. Someone is loyal and trustworthy but the other is taking it for granted. If this is me, woe is me. I need to identify those who love me and love them right back! However there are folks here that used to be “friends for life” but perhaps distance and lack of “active” forgiveness has reduced the willingness to exert more than the minimum effort.
7. Accept me as I am (High reciprocity, Low alignment)
We understand each other even if we don’t think alike. If the differences are so fundamental maybe I shouldn’t be here in the first place. If they are not fundamental however, accept and proceed. A loyal friend is hard to find and I am not really looking for a splitting image of myself (shock! horror!!).
8. I don’t understand you but I respect you (Low reciprocity, Low alignment)
Often those who you don’t completely get. But you respect their stance in life. Hell, you may even admire them. You wouldn’t go to them for advice (unless you want the absolute undiluted truth) but it may be good to look at someone different from you once in a while. These folks tend to be much older than me and have seen many phrases of life. I aspire to have their grace and confidence but at this stage in my “growth”, I have to admit that I often don’t understand them but respect that they have come a long way.
*Note: I use You and I interchangeably. It’s just me generalizing and then talking some sense to myself in the same breath.