Relationships in a World of Individualism

  • rWorld

    The rWorld is about more than Dale Kuehne's book Sex and the iWorld.
    The rWorld is a New England based, non-profit (in formation), that is composed of a growing number of people and organizations from many faith and ideological backgrounds worldwide. We believe that much of the fulfillment for which women and men are looking can be found by enhancing the quality of our relationships. While the individual freedom we enjoy in the West is a gift, the love and intimacy for which humans yearn will not be found in self-serving materialism or hedonism, but in a variety of healthy relationships.

    Contact us if you'd like get involved:

  • Dale Kuehne

    Sex & the iWorld

    Professor of Politics and The Richard L. Bready Chair for Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH.

    In this blog I'm highlighting signposts of the world in which we presently reside as a means of helping promote a civil, and meaningful dialogue about what kind of world in which we wish to live. I am particularly interested in exploring how might we reconcile the individual good and the common good, and where reconciliation isn’t possible, which should take precedence and why.

    I also blog at

    [Content Caution]

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rLiving 9: Time (Directness)

Posted by Simon on December 10, 2010

Exactly. There doesn’t seem to be enough of it, does there. It’s also the ultimate disposable item. You use it once, and then it’s gone, and you have to use up some more. We spend a third of our lives asleep (if we’re lucky). And our time will come to an end at a completely unpredictable point. So we’d better choose wisely what to do with it.

Relational Proximity Dimension #1 is “Directness”. Our relationship with someone is better and healthier if we actually encounter one another face to face rather than our relationship be contingent upon something or someone else.

People I know: I have 262 friends on facebook. I follow 568 people on twitter (followed by 532). I work with about 100 people worldwide (plus another 100 in our extended Resource Network). I think I have almost 500 people in my email list, but it must be more than that. My church – of which I am one of 12 elected leaders (more like trustees) – has almost 2,000 regular people (the irregular ones are banned! 🙂 ). I have six sisters, six brothers-in-law, and 14 nephews and nieces (none of whom live in the US). I used to know by name over 100 homeless men and women in London. I was in a church of several hundred there too. I don’t even know how to count my circle of friends back in London and now in Boston.

Like I can have close, healthy, growing relationships with all those people?! If it’s true that encounter relationships are stronger, healthier, more satisfying, then I need to make some sacrifices of time spent with some people over others. There’s a choice to be made. If you’re going to keep meeting someone regularly (#2, continuity), do a bunch of different things together so you get to know the full dimensions of each other (#3. multiplexity), then that’s gonna eat up a whole bunch of time. But that’s what close relationships take, and you just can’t do it with everyone. We think we can just keeping adding people to our lives without detriment to present relationships. But a lot of us are lonely with lots of ‘friends’.

Which of your ‘close’ friends and family have you not seen, face to face, recently? How has the lack of encounter affected the growth of the relationship?

[See the introduction for the background to this series and the five dimensions of Relational Proximity.]


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