What defines the closeness and depth of a human relationship? I have broken it down into these four elements as a framework for thinking about it:
1) Mind Sharing – How open and vulnerable is your conversation? How many of your thoughts and feelings do you share?
2) Understanding – How well are you are able to understand each other’s thought patterns and predict their behaviour? Do you have a strong desire to reach consensus and understanding?
3) Shared Memories and Experiences – How many memories and experiences have you shared?
4) Selflessness and Caring – How often do you think about each other? How willing are you to give for each other? How often? How much effort? How much energy are you prepared to put into each other just because you want to? How much joy do you feel from their joy? How much pain from their pain?
Now within each relationship these elements may not be balanced. One person may be more caring than the other. One might understand the other better than the other understands them. Sometimes the unbalance is manageable and sometimes it is just too much.
Each relationship will also have different amounts these elements. For example family members might have very large amounts of 3 and 4 especially. Where as close friends will have more 1 and 2 with a decent helping of 3 and 4 (although no friend is going to match the 4 of your mother!).
It can be really interesting to think about every relationship you have (or had) in this way. It can provide a deep understanding of why you value them (or don’t).