If you have listened to me for a while or read any of my blogs, seen any of my interviews, I often discuss my belief that for us to live the most fulfilling and happy lives, then we need to cultivate the best relationships possible.
Now, this can be any type of relationship, be a partner, family members, friends, colleagues or acquaintances. The better you feel about your relationships, the better life is.
As human beings we have developed as a species to need, crave in early life to survive through connecting with others. People that we can trust, rely on, confide in and share of ourselves.
Dating back hundreds of years, philosophers have told us that to love and be loved gives meaning to our lives and spiritual traditions speak of the significance of love in their teachings.
Creating a deeper bond with someone can be a beautiful thing, but also incredibly challenging and problematic if not with the right person, or if you are not ready within yourself to be connected in that way.
Choosing the right people to do this with is a skill in itself, especially if you have come from a place where your experiences mean you attract the wrong people or you are guarded in your own space around letting someone in.
I have discussed this in detail previously and the things we can work on in order to overcome them in my New Year, New Relationship episode that you can listen to here.
Even in the most healthiest of individuals however, building these bonds with someone requires effort, patience and communication and so here are some things you can do in order to create a deeper connection, with the right person and when you have overcome your blocks or resistance to do so.
Be present and intentional
One of the biggest obstacles in creating deeper relationships in being present and intentional. In the west especially, we live in a fast-paced world, where it is easy to get caught up in distractions and multi-tasking (which your brain hates by the way) which can hinder your ability to connect with others.
When spending time with someone, make a conscious effort to be present and focused on your interactions. Put away your phone and anything else that could distract you and give them as much of your undivided attention as possible. We seem to be able to do it on a first date or when we are trying to impress, so why not at other times too?
This level of intentionality shows the other person that you value your time together.
Whilst doing this we can practice deep listening and become attuned to the other person. An expansive awareness of the other person, putting aside our own thoughts and desires to be aware of their wants and needs.
Paying attention means that you can pick up on hidden meanings and things that someone may find hard to openly express. If we are in their space with them, it is much harder for us to be triggered by our own insecurities or defence mechanisms.
Of course, we may not necessarily agree with what they are saying, but at least you are clear in what they are saying and can respond accordingly.
It is a deep human need to be seen, heard and understood. If you can nurture a relationship into a space of deeper understanding, then even if you are triggered, you can usually respond in a more caring non-defensive or judgemental way.
So, listen actively, fully engage and understand them and allow them to understand you. Don’t change the subject (unless you a agree on a safe word if things are escalating out of your comfort zones), interrupt as little as possible and clarify what you hear.
This requires a level of empathy which is another essential component in building meaningful connections.
Good communication is the key and foundation for any successful relationship. Open communication is critical when building deeper connections.
Our wants and needs are likely to clash at some time in any relationship and open communication can help to bridge any gaps that may appear. It involves being honest, and transparent, expressing yourself clearly and directly whilst also taking on board someone else’s opinion and thoughts.
It builds that ever important trust and respect that healthy relationships need, as communicating vulnerable and personal things can take courage in some. We are hardwired with the stress response, or fight, flight and freeze when we feel our safety is threatened. If you are putting yourself into a perceived vulnerable space and you don’t feel safe, then rather than being able to be present, your mind will be racing you off to another space entirely.
It can cause relationships to break down or at the very least, the depth of connection to be blocked.
Vulnerability is not a weakness by the way and is an essential when deepening connection. It means being open and honest about you, your emotions, your hopes and fears and insecurities. It means that you are open to the possibility of pain if this relationship doesn’t work out, but pain is not inevitable and you will be ok even if you do get hurt when you have worked enough on your own sense of self.
Being able to be affected by those around you and respond to this allows you to be in a person’s space with them. Attuning to someone to be able to offer what they might need and be who they need you to be in those moments.
Are you able to be in these spaces with someone else and offer this to them without judging them as needy, obsessive or picky. Where do people’s requests land with you? Are you afraid that you won’t be heard too?
How are you at expressing what you truly want and need?
Validating and empowering each other through a willingness to be generous in your responsiveness can be overlooked, but essential in making each other happy.
Be Open to Negotiate
One word I don’t like to use when it comes to finding a healthy balance in relationships is compromise. On the whole, this is seen as a word that means you are giving something up and, in your brain, this can trigger all sorts of resistance.
So, we need to find a space where both of you see it as a win is important.
Also, check in with yourself as to how important something is to you as it may be compared to someone else and can you give a bit more on certain occasions.
Most significantly, do it because you want to, because you care about them and your relationship and that you want them to be happy as this makes you happy.
Unfortunately, most people have a negatively biased brain. This ensures that you look for the things that we are unhappy about, the things that aren’t or haven’t worked. In relationships this can mean you miss all the positives that have happened and the good things that are going on right now.
Celebrating each other’s successes involves acknowledging and congratulating them on their accomplishments and being genuinely happy for them. This shows a care for them, their wellbeing and are invested in them feeling good. Hence, creating a deeper sense of connection and more positive bonds between you.
Make Time for Each Other
This may sound very obvious, but is it surprising how many people don’t actually do this and wonder why they don’t feel close any more. Whether in the early stages of a new relationship or if you known each other a while, a deeply connected relationship requires nurturing, time and effort.
We all need to be someone else’s priority at times, so set time aside to prioritise your relationship, share experiences, meaningful conversations and spend quality time, yes, quality time together. When you do, it shows you are invested in them and they are in you and that you value that time you spend with each other.
Learn to Self Soothe
I am a massive advocate for self-soothing and have had to learn this skill as an adult myself. I wasn’t shown that I would be ok as a child and my upsets weren’t dealt with in a way that made me feel ok, safe, secure, no sign of compassion.
If you aren’t in a good space within yourself or know how to manage you when you aren’t in a good space, it will be much harder to be with others when they are struggling too.
Cultivate your inner resources, nurture yourself so that you can stay connected with you when things are not going your way. In turn you are able to stay connected with others rather than getting lost in yourself and your defensive and coping mechanisms.
Building and sustaining deeper relationships requires effort, patience and good communication. Listening, empathy and vulnerability. An ability to be present, both with yourself and others.
This doesn’t all need to come from you though, relationships are a two-way street and the same needs to be coming in from both sides. If you put all of these into practice and it isn’t reciprocated then they may just not be able to do so and not be the right person for you to continue with, but if they do then you can create deeper more meaningful and long-lasting connections.