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Intimacy Building Guide for Approval Seekers: When to Invest Yourself and When Not To

July 7th, 2016 07:31:41 pm


 

 

This article aims to help the approval seeker to know when and with whom you should be investing your time and energy building a relationship, and when you shouldn’t invest in both friendships and romantic relationships.

 
 

A Word about Archetypes

 

The archetypes I provide in this article say nothing about a person’s inherent worth nor addresses whether they are rejecting you or accepting you.  The archetypes merely suggest how much intimacy a person may want to have with you as indicated by their behavior.  Be advised that these archetypes are oversimplifications designed purely for the purpose of making general comparisons about stages of intimacy and not for the purpose of putting every human being in a box.  The overarching intent of the article is to help you (the approval seeker) learn where the boundaries are, when it could be healthy to pursue intimacy, and when it’s not healthy. 

 

 

Trust Trend

 

You can’t trust instances, but you can trust trend.  The longer the trend in observing behavior, the more likely your inferences will be true (at least for you and that’s all that matters).  When I say the word trend, I suggest months of time.  But circumstances will vary and you will not always desire to invest the time, nor do you want to invest too little time.  The greater epidemic with self-sabotage tends to be judging too quickly, however, an approval seeker doesn’t know when to quit.  Regardless, I hope this article saves you time and energy.  

 

 

 

The Intimacy Archetypes

 

 

The Stiff Box

 

In observing trend, you will find that The Stiff Box fairly keeps to themselves.  They may be distant and/or polite. They may be professional. They may be friendly. You may have had a few nice chats with them.  But overall, you’ve seen a pattern of their guarded behavior.  Intimacy at this level looks like social conversation (“Hi, how are you?”) and small talk (the weather, current events and sometimes family).  These topics are “safe” and do not require vulnerability in order to have exchanges.  Don’t confuse The Stiff Box's niceness with a desire for intimacy with you.  Small talk allows The Stiff Box to connect with you while remaining protected.  You will see a lot of this in the workplace, mainly due to the fact that many different personalities need common ground to mesh together.  The Stiff Box may have a significant fear of intimacy or may simply be clear about their personal boundaries, reserving greater intimacy for long time trusted friends and family.

 

 

Why You Feel Drawn to The Stiff Box

 

Approval seekers may feel drawn to build intimacy with The Stiff Box due to their sometimes friendly and professional nature.  Testing this boundary generally reveals that the outward professional or friendly demeanor is where the intimacy ends, and you will find your attempts at building intimacy generally unsuccessful in penetrating The Stiff Box.  The Stiff Box needs a significant amount of time and connection (and sometimes equal stature) to build trust, and may only retain long time trusted individuals for this purpose.  Yes, they are innocent and deserve love like everyone else, but an approval seeker like you won’t be fulfilled by a person who either doesn’t know how to build intimacy, doesn’t build it on purpose, or is scared to death of intimacy.  This is especially true if your relationships are naturally deeper than those The Stiff Box has cultivated. 

 

 

Conclusion:  Their behavior isn’t about you.  Accept them as they are, respect their boundaries and enjoy the level of intimacy you do have with them, and move on.

 

 

The Squishy Box

 

In observing trend, you’ll find that The Squishy Box feels rather comfortable to you.  They appear rather open and up front, willing to talk about social conversation, small talk, and even idea sharing.  You may find common ground with The Squishy Box, discovering that they are willing to connect on multiple levels including exploring philosophies and sharing stories and worldly ideas.  The Squishy Box is malleable.  It has semi-permeable walls.  It is flexible.  Unlike The Stiff Box, it has much greater capacity for expansion.  However, you will often find that The Squishy Box returns to its normal size.  This recoil after a period of time reveals that while idea sharing can lead to a greater connection, the intimacy doesn’t always last and isn't always real.  You’ll see this in motion when multiple pleasant, engaging connections (which may imply the start of a relationship) seem to “restart” in subsequent days.  Thus, the Squishy Box is often slippery, often redirecting or retreating in mid-conversation.  The Squishy Box is more flexible and less predictable than The Stiff Box, but may withdraw from your advances in intimacy if it makes them uncomfortable or if it’s something they simply do not want.  Ergo, risk taking may or may not lead to a relationship.

 

 

Why You Feel Drawn to The Squishy Box

 

Approval Seekers will find The Squishy Box is more fun than The Stiff Box (unless you prize predictability or you are The Stiff Box yourself), but you may find yourself unsure of where the relationship stands with The Squishy Box.  To resolve this, test their boundaries by looking for reciprocity by contacting them outside of your normal encounters which their resulting level of engagement will yield where you lay within their priorities.  Once you’ve discovered when they begin curtailing conversation, respect them, and accept that this relationship will likely be circumstantial.  Also, several declined invitations is a clear boundary, whatever their excuse.  "Fair weather friends" are often The Squishy Box, which implies “easy come, easy go.”  While they may value your connection and even consider it unique, your presence may be inconsequential.  As an approval seeker, you want more intimacy than that.  So hold out for better.

 

 

Conclusion:  Their behavior isn’t about you.  Accept them as they are, respect their boundaries and enjoy the level of intimacy you do have with them, and move on.

 

 

 

The Spacious Box

 

In observing trend, you’ll find that this person feels the most comfortable to you.  What makes The Spacious Box unique is that your conversations seem to build upon each other.  The feeling you have with The Spacious Box is that something is growing and expanding, and it does not recoil.  It stays. 

 

 

Why You Feel Drawn to The Spacious Box

 

Approval seekers will feel a rather instant connection upon your early conversations with The Spacious Box, as if you have more intimacy than you’ve spent time together.  The spacious box has tons of room for you.  Over time, you learn that this person takes their connection with you seriously, and that conversations continue to evolve.  Like any box, you start with social conversation, then small talk, then idea sharing.  But the dividing line here is when you begin taking risks, such as confiding and sharing your emotions while having the advances reciprocated.  Enough connection at this level leads to trust.  In trust, you discover there are fewer and fewer risks, and the intimacy feels fulfilling to both you and The Spacious Box.  A friendship has emerged based on genuine caring.  With the other two boxes, it is unclear as to whether politics are involved which doesn't engender trust or risk taking.  Nevertheless, The Spacious Box is the type of person you want to invest yourself with emotionally.  There is risk taking on both parts, indicating that both of you are trusting each other and interested in increasing your bond.

 

 

Conclusion:  Their behavior isn’t about you.  Accept them as they are, respect their boundaries and enjoy the level of intimacy you do have with them, and build upon it.

 

 

 

Intimacy Customs

 

People who don’t understand intimacy or fear it will trade commodities instead.  “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”  Discomfort with intimacy either leads to trading or not being able to receive at all.  The person with the most fear in the room is the one who feels the most awkward when you give to them.  Those who do understand intimacy know that giving expects nothing in return, and that you truly only gain by giving.  Granted, you will be able to receive from boxes with whom you've cultivated the most intimacy.

 

 

 

Boxes Can Change

 

Depending on emotional state and the current level of trust and safety a person feels, anyone (including you) may be The Stiff Box in one instance, The Squishy Box in another, and The Spacious Box in yet another.  How a person shows up and with whom may change their box.  However, what makes a person a predominant box type is their personal level of comfort with themselves which will yield consistency among their relationships.

 

 

 

Building Intimacy Takes Trust

 

Practice developing relationships and taking risks with whom you are comfortable, but be sure to heed the level of intimacy each person is comfortable reciprocating.  Respect the boundaries once you find them.  If you continue to try to gain approval once you see a consistent boundary, disappointment will abound.  Keep looking.  Keep practicing trust, and the people who want what you want will gravitate to you.

 

 

   

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About the Author:  Todd Schaefer

 

Todd Schaefer, C. Ht. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and co-founder of the Arizona Hypnotherapy Clinic and Schaefer Institute of Hypnosis in Phoenix, AZ.  Free hypnosis scripts and eBooks available at http://www.arizonahypnotherapyclinic.com/ .


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