More Connection Please!
Dear Woo Woo Girl: It is a new year and I have been thinking about friendships. I realized that I feel lonely and I am yearning for a deeper connection with friends and family. It is not that I don’t have connections, they just don’t feel satisfying. How do I get deeper connections?
Signed: Feeling Sad and Lonely
Did you know a lack of intimacy is more soul destroying than alcohol and obesity? Real connection says more about our happiness than anything else. We all strive for it don’t we? I don’t know one person who has ever said, please I don’t want more friends or more love in my life. We are a tribe, and we thrive when we feel the love. But you hit the million dollar question. How do you get deeper friendships?
Deepening our friendships mean opening ourselves up. It means showing our flaws, without the pretense. The onus starts with you to reveal the true you. I can tell you I have been in relationships that I have considered good friendships only to realize I felt just as lonely with them as I did without them, particularly when I needed someone to support me. But whose fault was it? It was mine. I lacked the ability to trust my friends with my vulnerability. For a long time I was damaged goods and trust was not something I knew how to cultivate. I did me wrong and my friends an injustice. They had no trouble confiding in me but I couldn’t reciprocate. I was the problem. Is this you? Does it feel familiar?
That doesn’t mean it is all on you. Sometimes friendships are stressful. They are filled with push and pull; digs and appreciation; and can be downright confusing. But it doesn’t sound like you have that problem. It sounds like feeling safe might be the issue- like I used to be. But Know that you CAN make healthier friendships.
But do we know what a fulfilling friendship looks like?
It’s not about how fun someone is, or how amusing they are- although that is important. According to Shasta Nelson– Friendship Expert it depends on three things to develop more deeper connections.
Positivity: When you are together there is a feeling of positivity in that you feel seen and safe in a satisfying way.
Consistency: Are you seeing each other on a regular basis? Consistently gives relationships stability to grow; and be safe. Friendships become more reliable.
Vulnerability: Is there room to be vulnerable? Not a purge but a dump of little shares over to time. This allows friends to see you in the whole picture.
According to Shasta, THESE are the foundations of friendships that intimacy can be built on.
It’s odd that something so necessary to our happiness needs to be taught, isn’t it? It’s a sad state that what came so easy as children eroded away as we became adults. But all is not lost. Sometimes the stalemate you arrived at in your relationships are the pattern that you developed over time. If you implement Shasta’s steps, and make an effort to step away from technology and meet face to face, and be open, your chances of gaining more intimacy have a chance because you put in the time to practice what she preaches.
I also feel compassion plays a huge part in deepening our friendships. Particularly if your relationship has turned a little sour. Relationships are complex, but if we are too quick to judge; to quick to feel hurt; or to quick to walk away, we lose the opportunity to deepen a connection by understanding another’s point of view, and where we might have fallen short. As long as our boundaries are still intact, there is room for negotiation and vulnerability. I think A.A. Milne said it all:
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Spiritual Practice: Practice vulnerability with a heart opening meditation.