There are stages to every relationship. If we ignore and jump ahead to a relationship stage we do damage to our self as well as other. The stages are not to be rushed but need to progress naturally to whatever stage a person should be in your life. Relationships are special and we must manage each space. The closer a person is to you will require maturity to be able to handle the totality of who you are and vice versa. In this article we will go through each stage to help you to know where you are with someone or where you need to place someone. The first stage is “Introduction”.
Introduction is making something known for the first time, or formally telling two people who the other person is. There are some relationships that begin and end here. God will bless you through a person and the enemy of our soul will curse you through a person. Our job is to discern who sent them. Relationships are the network for life and having the right relationships in your life is crucial. Everyone who comes into your life is not meant to stay. We live on levels and arrive in stages. Let’s define our relationship spaces as such: The outer court, peoples who know you but not intimately close. The inner court, people who know you and have a greater knowledge of you but not intimately. The holy of holies is the place of intimacy where someone knows all about you, flaws and all but genuinely loves you. Relationships are spacial. A relationship can be re-positioned to a closer or not so close space as you grow.
Acquaintance is someone who is known but who is not a close friend (Definition Merriam – Webster Dictionary). The next stage is “Acquaintance”. This is where you begin spending time with someone getting to know them after the introduction you both decided you wanted to move to this stage. You cannot move to this stage without both parties consent. We get tripped up in relationships when we misread a person’s intentions. You must verbally make it clear that you both are in agreement to proceed with the relationship.
Fellowship is friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. (Definition Oxford Living Dictionaries) The “Fellowship” stage is where after gathering information about someone you find out what you have in common and what are your differences. You begin associating with each other to a greater degree based on those common interests and differences. In having differences as the bible states in Proverbs 27:17 (New International Version) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Differences can be a positive thing in a healthy relationship towards positive growth.
Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding, and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend. People with close friendships are happier. (Definition from Wikipedia) The “Friendship” stage is reserved for those who have proven themselves in your life. Genuine friendships are formed in the crucible of crisis as stated in Proverbs 17:17 (New International Version) A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. A friend will tell you the truth about yourself in love because they want the best for you Ephesians 4:15 (New Living Translation) Instead, we will speak the truth in love… All truth is confrontational even when spoken in love. Proverbs 27:6 tells us (New International Version) Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Intimacy is the state of having a close, personal relationship or romantic relationship with someone (Definition from Cambridge Dictionary) Being Intimate Means “In-to-Me-See”. The “Intimacy” stage is the stage where someone knows you so well that a look can even discern your deepest feeling and thoughts without you saying a word. A deep understanding of who you truly are, and you are accepted as that. Proverbs 18:24 (Amplified Bible) The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother. In Proverbs 18:24 it states what happen when choosing unwisely concerning friendships and in the second part it shows us what intimacy looks like when a friend sticks closer than a brother.
The bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition) Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. We must guard our hearts and choose wisely as well as pray about each relationship we engage in to find out what place that relationship is to play in our lives. Relational stages are there to protect you in establishing healthy relationships.