We are looking at the interpersonal traits of unsafe people. So far we have seen:
1> Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting
2> Unsafe people are only concerned about “I” instead of “we”
3> Unsafe people resist freedom instead of encouraging it
4> Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us
5> Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us
6> Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals
7> Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent
8> Unsafe people are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one
When a person has such an influence on you and your life that you are becoming more and more like them – this person is an unsafe person. When having a relationship with this person means other healthy relationships you are in are neglected and even suffer then this person is unsafe.
Safety breeds safety. And safe people make us better people for being around them. This is Jesus’ “fruit test”: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” (Luke 6:43). We cannot fail to be influenced, for better or worse, by the people in whom we invest. It will always show: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). And good company builds up our hearts and releases us to build other relationships as well.
An unsafe person may make you feel good – yet wound you emotionally. She may make you act better, but hurt your character. And you may think you’re being treated well, but she may be hindering your growth. Fruit is about character issues – not symptoms.
The woman who is swept off her feet by an insincere charmer is a good example of this. She feels wonderful: loved, pursued, intoxicated by the attentiveness and flattery of the charmer. Her infatuation may make her more caring for her friends, more patient and forgiving. Her cup feels so full that she can give more.
But the reality is that while she feels and acts better, she is in the middle of a fantasy that will someday come crashing down around her. She is not being prepared for a real relationship, in which you deal with the imperfections of yourself and the other person. So she falls very hard, and sometimes she can’t trust again for a long time.
Safe people are not perfect, but they help us progress toward Christlike character in the four major areas of spiritual growth. Ask yourself these questions about the people with whom you relate.
As a result of spending time with this person, am I
- more loving or more detached?
- more honest or more compliant?
- more forgiving or more idealistic?
- more mature or more childish?
Deciding whether a relationship is good for you will take time and some long, hard, coldly objective analysis. And it will probably take a friend’s detached eye. But look at your relationships over the long haul, and judge them for how they have changed your life – for better or worse.