If I only knew it was called Parallel play

Parallel play in a coffee shop

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

For the longest time, I have felt slightly guilty when sitting with someone I know but kinda ignoring them while I do something else.

Its something I have apologized a lot for in the past. However it wasn’t till Hannah shared a NYTimes piece which pointed to a social state we currently only apply to children. That social state is called parallel play, and it comes with a massive amount of benefits for both adults.

For adults, what makes parallel play different than two people ignoring each other in the same room is a secure foundation underpinning their relationship, explained Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist and co-author of “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — And Keep — Love.” “Parallel play is one of the hallmarks of secure relationships, but it has to be done right,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s all about availability. If you know that the other person is available and that, if you need them, they will pay attention to you, then you feel secure.”

Not sure why I felt so guilty about it before, maybe I could track it down to previous relationships (which might not have been as secure). It all made sense in my head but I started confirming everything was ok then feeling guilty?

However I certainly down for much more parallel play and the guilt is gone now.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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