Hello, my name is Sevin Philips. I’m here to talk about developing close relationships. It’s one of those things that a lot of us struggle with. We want to have deep and meaningful relationships. Some of us don’t have many deep relationships in our lives, so we long to feel more close and more connected.
Some of us are with somebody and we’ve been with somebody for a long time that we love dearly but we feel disconnected from. We feel like we’ve fallen out of love and we feel distant even living in the same house. This can be the case whether it’s family members, friends, lovers, or children that we have. We want to feel closer to people. That’s something that I think, as human beings, we all experience.
There are three factors that greatly enhance the capacity to feel close. They’re actually very simple. But as far as following the instruction, they may be a little difficult to do though – but they really work which is the most important part.
1. Being curious
When you’re curious about who somebody is, you’re really sharing with them that they’re important, that they matter, and that you want to know who they are. When they do the same to you, it just feels really good.
The thing about curiosity is it’s an art that as adults we lose touch with. Children do it really well. If you watch them, they’re curious about the world. There’s so much that they don’t know. When we get older, we learn a lot about life and about each other, but then we fall asleep and we kind of forget. We continue to change over time. We really need to continue to ask with curiosity about what matters most. What concerns you the most? What are you thinking about in your life? What do you hope for in your life? Really stay close to those subjects.
Once you’ve been curious and you’re asking, you know what’s important. It could be your relationship with your mom. “I know you had a difficult time with her in your last vacation. How’s that going?” or “Last week you told me that your boss had that big thing to tell you and it was a really big blow for you. How’s that going?”
It could be anything, but you want to remember what it was and you want to, most importantly, ask about it. The second key to remembering is asking the person, “How’s that going?” Let them know that they matter.
3. Being vulnerable
The third could be perhaps the most difficult for most people: being vulnerable about who you are with the people you love. The reason why it’s a little tricky is some of us feel much safer keeping the focus on the other person. I could ask you questions about yourself and remember and ask you how that’s going very easily. But if I tell you who I am, I’m risking something because you might not like it. You might not like me. You might not respect me if you knew how I really feel about something or somebody.
It’s a risk. But the reason why it’s worth the risk – and I know this from really personal work that I’ve done in my life – is that when we share the good, the bad, the ugly like a Spaghetti Western, all of ourselves, we are closer to other people.
When I share at a group level, which I’ve done, about parts of my past that have been very vulnerable to share, real, and meaningful to me and sometimes not so pretty, I have people lining up to say hello, to tell me how they feel about what I shared or how they relate to it.
What I have not shared so much about my heart or my past or who I really am, I’ve noticed there’s a lackluster, almost an absence of connection that I feel from people that I speak with. What this tells me is that there’s a human connection that when other people hear about who you really are, they also feel touched because they’re like you. They have struggles, they have trials, and they have tribulations. We all struggle if we’re really honest. When you share yours, it gives other people permission to share theirs. The point of all this is when you share yourself, someone knows who you really are, not just who you want them to think you are and that’s how we get close. All these things really help develop close relationships.
Remember, be curious about who someone is. Ask questions that are meaningful, deep, and intimate about who someone is or what they want in their lives or what matters. When they do, check in about that thing, and ask about it later on, “How’s that going?” Remember what they said and ask about it. Most importantly, give something back, tell them who you are.