Steven Losardo, AMFT

Maybe more so than ever, we need safety in our lives, and that includes secure individuals. These people have attributes that include being easy to get close and dependability. Safe people are comfortable depending on others and do not worry about abandonment or someone getting too close to them (Johnson, 2013).  How do we know we have these kind-hearted people in our lives? This blog will review the characteristics of a safe person to assist in this. 

Safe People help you become relationally healthier. 

Cloud (2020) highlights that a safe person can more fully see our potential and describe it. They encourage us to be our best in love and see us holistically. They see the whole person, including the heart, mind, body, and soul. Along the way, they provide a positive sense of connection while giving and receiving in a relationship (Johnson, 2015).  They can also help bring out something in us when we are stuck. 

As an example, the internal assault of your heart keeps you from moving forward in your career. A safe person can see how our behavioral blind spots impact career opportunities and provide objective feedback. Juxtaposed, when an unsafe person tries to advise, it sounds like criticism to our ears, and they harm you in some way. They may try to turn you into somebody you are not. Simply put, they keep you from becoming your best.

They connect you to relationally safe people.

A safe person helps us become more connected (Cloud, 2020). We will see them connect and orient towards other safe people. They are loved, and the people around them help them become more open and secure. They continue to become more relational while investing in other good people.  A safe person wants us to have different friends in addition to them and want us to engage in the world. There is a felt sense of connection with them even if we exit their lives.  An unsafe person, family, or community does not allow us to connect to healthy people (Johnson, 2013). They can direct us to destructive people or get “clingy” as you end up moving away from others altogether (Johnson, 2013). Unsafe people will not want you to have other relationships because they want to own you like their possession. 

Help you get closer to your [spiritual] center

Cloud (2020) notes that a safe person helps you become more loving and forgiving.  They want you to find your purpose, serve other people, develop your talents as you learn how to live well. They support your desire for spiritual growth and foster its development. They cultivate the transcendent and more significant issues in life for your purpose and meaning. They allow you the space to find your center relating to your journey with spirituality. 

They use boundaries and honor yours.

A safe person develops boundaries from the inside to outside, ultimately giving them a tool to deal with unsafe people (Cloud, 2020). They can control their internal “wise mind,” balancing their thoughts and emotions while not hurting others. If a maladaptive situation arises, they can set external consequences outside of themselves using boundaries. 

They may use boundaries when a conversation is stuck or in conflict.  They do not use limits to control or manipulate, saying things such as “we have a conflict in our relationship,” and my boundary is “I will never talk to you again (Cloud, 2020).” Instead, a safe person will engage in conversation about the conflict situation. You will notice they typically begin by listening, while not being critical, stonewalling, using contemptuous language, or defensiveness (Gottman, 2017).  If processing a conflict exchange is not helping, they use consequences. However, a safe person accepts and respects your decision to respond to these. They realize that they only have power over themselves and do not want power over us. As they set a boundary and use appropriate consequences, they need to communicate their process to us. They know it is our decision about how we would like to respond when they are using appropriate consequences. 

An example of using appropriate boundaries is when a safe partner in a relationship is the hurt person, and an unsafe partner will not take responsibility for their part.  This individual is defensive, and while highlighting that they did not do anything wrong, they will also note that the safe partner is the problem. A safe person knows an appropriate boundary may give their partner one more chance (providing no safety issues). However, they need to see ownership and behavioral changes. If the other partner does not respond by owning this and “continue to go behind my back and try to turn people against me,” this will not work. If that is the case, the safe partner “will have to move to a different kind place in the relationship.” 

While the boundary setting brings consequences to a situation, a safe person will show patience and hopes the other partner will begin to change (Cloud, 2020). They have empathy for the other person, who is most probably is hurt as well. When setting limits, they do so by still being lovingly responsible to the person in pain (Cloud, 2020).  Ultimately they know boundaries are for their heart, and if they do not stick to them, they only hurt themselves. They are not demanding the other person do anything, including not even respecting the boundary. Instead, it is about remaining clear verbally and sticking the action when there is a boundary violation. They know boundaries are not a way to control, realizing they give up control and allow their partner to take responsibility for their action (Cloud, 2020). 

If you feel you are in an unsafe relationship, or you want to talk to a counselor, Symmetry Counseling is here to help you and support you. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Chicago therapist to find out how we can help you.

References

Cloud, H. (2020, September 5). Dr. Henry Cloud. Safe Unsafe People Part 2. Retrieved from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA3AQW5lSqc

Gottman, J.  (2017). Level 1 Clinical training manual: Gottman method couple

therapy. Seattle, WA: The Gottman Institute Inc.

Johnson, S. (2013). Love sense: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships. Little,

Brown Spark.