Two Necessary Ingredients for Deepening Relationships
Do you have the necessary resources to build lasting relationships?
Posted April 26, 2017
For many women, friendship is a very natural thing – as a rule, women are socially purposeful by nature. Women need to experience a sense of belonging and women value feeling connected to others.
Two Ingredients for Friendship Formation
Finding ways to deepen relationships requires two important ingredients:
- You must feel comfortable and safe in self-disclosing and opening up to another person
- You must feel that the potential relationship is worth the investment
If these two ingredients are in place, then the next step is simply to open up a space to allow the bond to deepen. Whether this is through text messages, phone calls, emails, face-to-face walking into work from the parking lot, at the coffee shop, at the gym on the treadmill, or on a double date, the forging of the relationship can begin.
It’s not always easy to find ways to deepen relationships in our very busy lives. Balancing relationships with external obligations and daily commitments of modern life can pose a challenge. So, the key might be to invite potential “deep friends” to accompany you on some of the mundane tasks you have on your plate. Say, perhaps you have to run three or four errands on a weekend morning. Instead of doing the marketing and picking up dry cleaning by yourself, invite a friend to ride along with the promise of a chat and a cup of coffee your treat at the coffee shop between stops. This will allow you to squeeze in one-on-one time with a friend while still getting everyone accomplished on your to-do list. If you are a dedicated fitness devotee, target a potential friend at the fitness center and strike up a conversation as you strategically climb on the machine beside her.
One woman I know was devastated when her “best grown-up friend,” as she termed it, had to relocate to another city. They had started out as neighborhood walking buddies, but as they spent several years increasing their level of self-disclosure on their walks, their surface friendship had intensified into best friendship. Although separated by hundreds of miles, their mutual friendship and their commitment to daily walks combined to give them the perfect opportunity to stay in touch through continued daily chats – each evening, they would head out for their walks with their headphones on and their cellphones in their pockets and enjoy a long phone conversation as they walked. She delights in telling people that she and her best friend still enjoy their daily walks together regardless of the geographical distance between them.
We have all had the experience of a new acquaintance or new friend who provides “too much information” before the relationship really warrants deep, personal disclosures. We all seem to have a feel for how fast a relationship should move regarding self-disclosure. Being mindful of matching the speed of a new friend, providing casual opportunities to share time together, and being willing to make the first move to forge a closer relationship can open the door to a beautiful, lasting authentic friendship.
Friends are the jewels that help us make it through the daily grind of life – the gold among the dross and the wheat from the chaff, to borrow a couple of timeworn similes. Friends are meant to be valued and enjoyed – not left on a shelf gathering dust. A friendship that is not exercised and stretched will likely become brittle and be more likely to break. The investment we make in friends – both those who provide instrumental or emotional support – is well worth the time involved in building and maintaining these relationships. There is no price that can be placed on the security of knowing that people will be there for you when you just don’t feel up to being there for yourself.
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How strong is your social support network? Do your friends and family help keep you healthy?
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Degges-White, S., & Pochel Van Tieghem, J. (2015). Toxic Friendships. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing.