We all crave to be loved. But its not something that we all just so happen to “want.” Love is something that we need.
From birth, our survival & our development is based upon a healthy & loving attachment to our mother, our family & our community. This healthy attachment is what nourishes us, mind, body & soul, and it allows us to feel supported. When we are fully supported, then we able to take risks, to try new things, and to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions so that we can grow.
There is a fine line between being supported and being vulnerable. In order to truly love and to truly be loved, we must find a way to do both!
Life, and every relationship we will ever have, is a never-ending dance along this line of support & vulnerability. Learning how to navigate this windy road is the key to creating an intimate & meaningful connection with another human being, and with ourselves. Learning when to lean into support and how to provide support, when to be vulnerable and how to encourage our loved ones to do the same.
Its a constant ebb and flow, and sometimes it can feel overwhelmingly impossible! But that is the journey, and the journey is what makes these profound & loving connections worth having. Here is the paradox…
In our attempt to create a lasting connection, we must also understand that everything in life is temporary.
I think the biggest problem that most of us have with trying to sustain our relationships is not the lack of desire or motivation to keep loving that person or to stay interested. The most challenging thing for us tends to be our misunderstanding of “lasting” to mean permanent.
The only things that last in life are the ones that do not stay the same. They are the things that grow, that change, that evolve. They are the things that allow for the temporary changes and the momentary lapses.
Permanence is a concept that does not apply to reality, especially in relationships. And when we confuse a relationship that lasts with this idea of “permanence,” we do ourselves a big disservice. We stifle the natural ebb and flow. We constrict ourselves by adhering to something that is impossible.
Connections that last are the ones that support us to grow and invite us to be vulnerable. The ones that embrace change & see the impermanence as a beautiful part of being human. So, here are a few things that will help you cultivate lasting connections and nourish all of your relationships.
So often, the mistakes people make in relationships are caused by the way things “should” be. I like to call this “shoulding” all over ourselves. (and its pretty gross.)
Clinging to the idea that your personal relationships should follow a prescribed set of guidelines is not only unhelpful, its toxic! And it is something that we ALL do!
We define how “good” our relationships are. We count the number of times we talk per week, or have sex, or go out on a date, or who pays the bill. We compare our relationships and our life to Hollywood movies, to the expectations from our parents, to the ideals portrayed through the media, to our friend’s relationships and how “good” and “happy” they seem.
We need to stop shoulding. Because defining & comparing our relationships (and ourselves) to standards that have been set by others is exactly the behavior that stops us from creating REAL and authentic connections.
Being authentic should be our number one goal in a relationship. In learning how to truly be ourselves, our whole self, all of the time, we are inviting others to do the same. And only then, can we create a connection that we want to make last.
There is yet another fine line that we must dance… between Truthfulness and “Too Much Information.”
Communication is the most common obstacle in almost every relationship. Although being truthful is related to being authentic, this is referring more to the ways in which we communicate, the ways in which we express our truth to another person – however much or however little.
I think we can all agree that being truthful is quite valuable and necessary to sustain a healthy connection with someone. And if you believe that flat out lying is the answer to your relationship problems… let’s be honest, you probably are not reading this article.
So in terms of truthfulness, how do we know how much what is too much information? Well, it is going to depend on the circumstance and the people involved. And this line can be especially tricky to navigate in new relationships, but in that case – always remember the number one goal: Authenticity.
Although it would be helpful to have a proven way of knowing what is too much information and what is good communication, there is no official guidebook. But there is a way for us to practice putting ourselves in another person’s shoes, which takes skill. We have to be aware of their feelings, their thoughts, maybe even their fears and their desires. We have to empathize with their situation, even if we don’t understand or agree with it. We have to almost predict their response and decide whether or not it will positively impact our connection or not. Then, can we determine whether or not what we want to say is “Too Much Information” or if it is truthful communication.
This will look different for every relationship you have, and sometimes we have to ask someone, “Do you want to hear about this?” Which is okay to ask – again, its being authentic and truthful. If that person does not want to hear about something that you really need to share with them, that is where a negotiation might need to happen.
Everyone loves feeling appreciated. Everyone wants to be seen, heard and loved.
In both new and long term relationships, with a partner, a friend, or a family member, expressing our gratitude on a regular basis is such an important part of maintaining a connection. Its the give and take.
Being grateful for the exchange of energy and an offering of love is absolutely vital if we want things to continue the way they are. And our loved ones will only know when we want something to continue if we show an appreciation for it.
Gratitude can be expressed in a multitude of ways, through words or actions. But it must be expressed. If we simply think about how great someone is, and how much we like this certain thing they do for us, or how they make us feel – they will never know how much we appreciate them. And to sustain that connection, to continue experiencing those things that we love, we must articulate them in a way that expresses that appreciation.
Everyone has a different way of giving and receiving love. Some people like to hear it, some people like to see it, others like to receive gifts or small surprises. Love Language is a book that explains how people often share love in the same way they like to receive it. So in terms of how to reciprocate love, how to express your gratitude and your appreciation in a way that it will be best received, think about how this person most often expresses their love to you.
Showing your appreciation will not only strengthen your connection with another person by making them feel loved, but studies have shown that by practicing the emotion of gratitude, we can quite literally change our brain structure and rewire ourselves to love more fully. Yes please!
Remember, its all about the ebb and flow.
Each of these things – what it means to be Authentic, what it looks like to be Truthful, and how we express our Gratitude – we must allow them to change, to evolve! They will not always be the same, and they will be different for all of our relationships.
Sustaining a lasting connection is all about embracing the impermanence & accepting the changes. Finding support & encouraging vulnerability.