Connection/Disconnection Exercise

Healthy relationships require a balance of intimacy and autonomy to thrive.  How much time do you spend with the other person?  How easy is it to express and pursue your own interests, activities, and opinions?  How easy is it to share personal needs and concerns?  How easy is it to disagree?  How available and dependable is the other person?  How acceptable is it to have time for yourself or other friendships?  How authentic are you in the relationship?  How much respect for privacy is there too?  How much affection and appreciation is expressed?    

Think of a significant relationship in your life now or recently (a friend, roommate, parent, romantic partner, etc.).

Which of the six Venn diagrams above best characterizes this relationship? 

What are the advantages/disadvantages,  benefits/costs of the diagram you selected?

Did the relationship go through different stages (and therefore different diagrams) over time?

Think about how satisfied you are with the diagram you selected and what it represents about your needs for closeness and autonomy in this relationship.  Being aware of what your needs are in this regard might help you communicate more effectively with the other person.   Your relationship may be at a point where you are renegotiating intimacy and autonomy (e.g., whether to continue a romantic relationship from high school now that you are in college, whether to start or maintain a long distance relationship, how much contact and support you seek from your family now that you’re in college, and often enough and painfully so whether to break up or not).

Self/other venn diagram