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College: Dancing with porcupines

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When you talk to people about their college days, you will hear two themes:

  1. People who were very involved, were part of groups, and probably still keep in touch with college friends.
  2. People who did not get that involved, did not build relationships, and so they don't keep in touch with college friends.

Many circumstances will influence if you will be a person who has those college friends later in life or not. Some of those circumstances you can't change. However, learning how to handle conflict in relationships is one thing you can do in order to be more of person #1 above than person #2.

You have noticed that throughout this series, we are looking at what Godwin has written about in his book "People Problems" and on his blog. He has given me permission to use his material. However, we are only looking at some of his material, so if you want more, check out his blog or book.

Ok, enough of the commercial message! :-)

Godwin talks about our need and desire for attachment, a bonding with another person. In college, joining clubs or organizations, spending time with people, and just getting to know people is how you build those healthy attachments.

But, whenever we start to build those attachments, we need to know that there will be conflict. Godwin refers to that process as dancing with a porcupine.

Visualize this: You get close to a porcupine and as long as things are calm, everything is good. But as soon as there is stress, the quills come out. Not just the other person's, but your quills too. So, we back off to not get hurt. The key is to know how to stop dancing like porcupines.

For example: You and your college roommate are getting along great. Then she starts dating a guy that just rubs you the wrong way. So, you put up your defenses, or you start reacting every time he pushes one of your buttons. Since your roommate likes the guy, your relationship with her is now tense and even with some other people in the dorm. So, you can continue the relationships like this and know that eventually one of you will move out of the room. Or, you can learn to handle those types of situations.

We will be exploring how you can handle those types of situations later in this series. Stay tuned and subscribe so you don't miss something.

If you have missed a post, go to my articles and catch up.

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