“Please post something on Heavy Mental about being with vs. being around. I’m interested in your take.”

Of course, we take requests! A conversation on the topic of relationships ended with an old friend’s request above. We were discussing that point on relationship horizon where friendship blends into coupledom.

It was then that I introduced the idea of it all coming down to the concept of being: We see ourselves most happy being either with or around that special someone. How special? Well, that’s the question. Given the with vs. around quandary, it’s more than a binary situation.

Let’s examine around first.

Right now, I’m around 120 people on an MD-90 35,000 feet above, oh, somewhere between BNA and LEX. The guy next to me – previously strangers before our seating-spurred acquaintance – chatted about the inop AC unit. I even shared a laugh with the guy in the row behind me. All these people are at one end of the relationship spectrum – the around end.

I won’t say I enjoy being around these people, yet for me it’s pleasant. I’ve interacted with some, making being around them more enjoyable, at the same time moving me up the spectrum.

Enter with.

As we interact with others – through our conversations, duties, hobbies, and pursuits (and fate) – we move up the spectrum toward the enjoyment of being with someone. I’m around my wife and son a lot; I enjoy being with them, too. And there’s a difference.

Through my family’s conversations, duties, hobbies, and pursuits (and fate – mos def that), we’ve established happiness in being with each other. Sure, we’re together all the time, but it goes beyond that.

Even the Biblical phrase “being with [someone]” could enter the conversation intelligibly. It’s food for thought and can serve more than fodder for a snicker as it did for me in high school: “Yeah, I was with her, but not in the Biblical sense.” Nudge, nudge. Knowhatimean? Say no more!

Parallel with the physical proximity is the emotional proximity, which is really what this is all about, right? How close do we let others get to our selves? How much of our head and heart do we share with others? Even in ruminating on emotional aspects, it’s hard to resign myself from non-physical metaphors.

I’d offer that when we’ve comfort allowing someone to know our true feelings and permitting them to see our true emotions then we’re comfortable being with them.

It’s important to point out that even when we’ve some discomfort being with someone we really enjoy being around, it’s important through introspection to determine if it’s them or us that’s the source of discomfort. My experience would go on record before a Senate Judiciary Committee and attest that such introspection into Derek’s self has resulted in personal growth. It may work for you, too.

And that’s not just a Psych major talkin’.

It’s a caveat to consider as you identify your coordinates on the relationship spectrum, a labor hopefully more illumed through a couple of prepositions.