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Assumed Relationship

An assumed relationship, for this discussion, is relatively shallow, often new, probably hierarchical and usually based upon stereotypes or roles with clearly understood parameters. This is the most common type of relationship between individuals or groups of differing social/economic classes It can be mutual but, more commonly, it’s one sided. It can be opened up for the participation of others. It can be expressed as a demand. It can be a plea.

Here’s how: invitation…”Hi, I’m Pastor Ken. Thanks for your desire to participate in our lay ministry team. Welcome!” (I’m the pastor. You’re the “lay” (not pastor) person.) Our roles, and relationship, are known and settled at the outset. You are invited into a specific structure.

Demand…boss/employee, instructor/student, parent/child, god/follower, witnesser/witnesee; power or information flow mostly one direction. Mutuality is minimal.

Old school male-as-head-of-household is an unhealthy form of the demand type assumed relationship.

Plea…”Can I have your autograph?” “Say, can I call you sometime?” Two requests never made to me.

Love at first sight is an example of assumed relationship that can be mutual…or not.

Assumed relationships are not necessarily unhealthy. Since they’re essentially a from of  shorthand, they can serve a useful purpose. Any task oriented effort, for example, is speeded along and simplified by them.

Mistaking an assumed relationship for a more intimate form of relationship is asking for pain…lots of it. Most of us (i.e. me) seem to really enjoy pain. Awesome.


  1. K-Gal wrote:

    Can I call you for your autograph sometime?!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  2. kloyd wrote:

    Sure…my 15 minutes of fame, at last.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 12:28 am | Permalink

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