Thinking about relationships and how you respond to the question “how are you doing/how are things going?”. Specifically, three categories: “just fine”, “all good”, and “how it really is”.
I’m not sure how you are, but for me, a “fine”, or “just fine” answer to the question “how are you doing?” can be as loaded as “nothing” to answer the question “what’s wrong?”. Those are my pat answers when I am either really upset about something, or just not able to talk about it. Bill visibly flinches when I respond with either of those answers.
In all three categories, I’m sure we have all had plenty of experience both giving and receiving.
“Just fine” relationships – Just fine is OK for superficial relationships or passing acquaintances. If just fine means “holy cow watch out, I’m about to blow” then the relationship doesn’t belong in this category-and it’s probably time to duck and run for cover.
“All good, or I’m good” relationships – they fall somewhere in between the other two. Maybe this is a “just fine” relationship that is moving to a new level, or someone you feel comfortable with, but not ready to trust in confidence.
“How it really is” relationships – The very best! These very gifted relationships see beyond the “just fine”, “all good” or “I’m good”. They know just when to “call bullshit”, and when to respect the boundary and be patient.
There is a place for each of these in our lives. Obviously, every person we meet is not going to fall into the last category. As I thought about this, I thought about which of these I fall into for other people – not just how they are categorized for me. I also realized that each category has interesting characteristics.
Just fine requires little energy, brief contact, you know – passing acquaintance, passing the time of day. All good/I’m good – more energy if you’re willing, more effort. How it really is requires effort on both sides, demands participation, and can get a little dicey. I think everyone needs at least one of these (how it really is) relationships – both as a giver and a receiver. You have the guts to reply “everything is not just fine”, or “really?” to I’m good – because you know – and care – that things are not fine or good. By the same token, you easily recognize when “fine” or “good” are honest and truthful answers.
While I am thankful for being able to enjoy all 3 types of relationships, I am profoundly grateful for my “how it really is” friends. They are few and far between, and a blessing beyond belief!