My wife and I were having a discussion recently about a new acquaintance we both recently met. She was critical of me for (as usual) questioning and probing the person about their hobbies, interests and beliefs, during the course of a casual dinner out. In trying to explain to my wife that I didn’t do it to be a “pain”, but rather because I was genuinely interested in learning about the person, it struck me that what I was really trying to determine was how accessible the individual’s personality was. I realized that this personality dimension of accessibility was very important to me in deciding if  a relationship was worth developing.

There are few personalities more frustrating to deal with than those who are closed off from intimacy and real communication. They are usually either very fragile, or very arrogant; afraid to expose themselves on the one hand (the Avoidant personality), or deeming your very existence so peripheral to theirs that they don’t want to waste time explaining themselves to such a putz (the Narcissistic personality). Either way, they are often high-maintenance, especially if you value intimacy, honesty, and openness (if you don’t then they can be great friends).

Think about people you have known. Did you ever have a boss, colleague, or acquaintance whom you’ve known for many years, yet, if you think about it, you know very little about them, especially about what they think and feel, or how they view the world? Discussions with them will usually revolve around activities (work, sports scores, restaurants, cultural events, etc.), but rarely around feelings, values, and beliefs. You may have described them to others are “very nice, but reserved”.

Ultimately, it’s not about making a value judgment, but about understanding what makes you happy in relationships with people. Personally, I prefer my friends transparent, the warts and imperfections making them all the more interesting. I hope they cut me the same slack.