Levels of Relationships

As we have come to learn more about relationships and social capital, sociologists have come to discover that there are 3 levels to our connections. In a way you can think about this from a circle diagram.  The outermost dimension, sort of like the crust circle on a pie, is the zone of acquaintanceships.  These are the initial relationships we develop as we come to meet people.

As people spend more time together (referred to as "regularity") and find more similarity beyond the issue that led to their introduction, these relationships tend to strengthen. This level, the zone of engagement begins to find people doing more things together. Back to our pie image, this zone of engagement is like the half circumference of pie, where you start to get into the fruit.

The last level, and the deepest, is the covenant zone.  Here we have people that we love and trust; those who are most important to us. We have come to know these people well, and they have a deeper sense of importance in our lives. In the pie metaphor, this is the center part; the juiciest section. Here the fruit is deep and plenty.

And staying with the image of a pie, the slices of a pie would represent the places (or communities) where we meet people and find the regularity of exchange. The crust is the largest quantity, the middle section is next largest, and the center, where the most important relationship rest, is the smallest.

And so, what about you; can you think about people who fall in these 3 levels of relationships in your life? Think back to how you met, and review what it was that made your connection get deeper. The more we think about our social capital, the more we will come to understand the importance of other people in our lives.