A caller on New Life Live radio (www.newlife.com) asked us the following question on Wednesday’s show: “I want to be closer with people and have more intimate relationships, but I’ve been burned in the past and have been hurt by a lot of people. What should I do?”
Amongst other things that Steve Arterburn and Dr. Jill Hubbard said, I explained to him the Safety Pyramid and the essential features of how it works. I explained that people usually have two opposite tendencies toward connecting with people, those who under connect and those who over connect. In this last group, their tendency is to go too fast, tell too much, and over extend in such a way that they think that a new person is their BFF (best friend forever) after a few short weeks.
Frequently, I ask callers who are in marital distress “How long did they date and who did their pre-marital counseling?” Often the answers are “3-4 months” and “nobody”. One couple I know, was engaged in 3 weeks.
When this type of emotional and relational “over extending” too quickly occurs, people always get hurt. Why? Because they are enamored with one another and they really do not know if the other person is safe. How could they? They don’t even know each other.
How do you know if a person is safe? You need to understand the “safety pyramid” and always apply the rules of the pyramid in order to protect yourself (and others) from getting too close, too fast.
Imagine a pyramid, just like the ones in Egypt or on the back of a dollar bill minus the eye. Divide it horizontally into thirds. The bottom third is entitled “acquaintances”, the middle third is entitled “friends” and the top of the pyramid is entitled “safe people.”
Here are three of the rules of the pyramid just to get us started.
- All people (and I mean ALL) enter at the bottom of the pyramid as “acquaintances.”
- It takes at least 1.5 – 2 years for a person to “earn” their way to the safe person category.
- Only marry or become closest friends with a safe person.
When we marry or become closest friends with only safe people, we have the highest chances of success in that relationship. And that’s what we all want.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks and blessings,
Milan & Kay
Next week: More rules of the pyramid and how much should we trust an “acquaintance?”