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What Do You Actually Want From Your Relationships?

An important part of creating and maintaining a healthy social life, is having a good understanding of what you want from your friendships, what needs you have, and who may not be a good fit.

So how do you begin to do this? Let’s look at a couple different things

Mapping your circle

We all have different kinds of relationships in our lives, and have a different level of personal disclosure and intimacy depending on that relationship.

When we map out the relative-closeness of our relationships, we can more easily see where new friendships and relationships should fit in. This helps us decide how much we might want to share about ourselves, and how close we can expect to be to new connections.

Think of your current relationship as a diagram of concentric circles:

  • Circle of Intimacy

    • This is for your closest family and friends that you feel safest with and are able to be the most vulnerable with.

  • Circle of Friends

    • This is for good friends, who may not be as close as the middle circle. You may not talk to them quite as often, and you may not feel as comfortable touching or being touched by them.

  • Circle of Acquaintance

    • These are people you don't know very well. They might not be people we go to with our hardest problems, but they can be people you see regularly or enjoy doing activities with.

When you meet new people, you can refer to your diagram to figure out where you think they belong, and therefore, the level of closeness and personal disclosure that is appropriate.

Mapping your needs

Once we understand the circles of friendship, we can start diving into the needs that we have in our relationships. We can start by determining our values.

Values can be things like:

  • Honesty

  • Kindness

  • Standing up for others

  • Independence

  • Fairness

Most people have these values, but the differences can be in which ones we think are most important, especially when two values may clash.

When you know what your own personal values are, you also have a better understanding of what to look for in others.

Relationship functions

When considering our relationship needs, we can also look at the different functions people can play in our lives.

Relationship functions could include:

  • Activity partners

  • Emotional disclosure/emotional intimacy

  • Understanding

  • Advice

  • Venting/Listening

  • Play/humour

Not every person in your life will be able to fill every relationship function.

For example, the person you go to for advice might not be the person you go to when you need to vent. They might continue to offer you advice when what you really need is for someone to just listen.

When being a friendship, ask yourself:

  1. What do you need from your relationships?

  2. What relationship functions are you strongest in?


You should now have a better grasp of who you are, what’s important to you, and what you need from your relationships. This will help you find compatible people and better understand what role they play in your life.

It’s useful to understand that some people may not fit into our lives, not because there’s anything wrong with us or them, but just because our needs are mismatched. If someone doesn’t want to be friends with you it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you - it’s just that sometimes people aren’t compatible that way.

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