How to: Be Connected in Relationships
Out of all the topics that people bring to sessions, relationships are the most common topic.
Relationships with that special someone, relationships at work, relationships with friends and relationships with family.
Being the social beings that we are, our happiness depends on how we feel a sense of belonging, inclusion and connection with the people around us. In fact, a sense of not belonging, being excluded or disconnected from the people around us can cause emotional distress, unhappiness and even anxiety.
You could take it back to our biology and the idea that when we were cavemen and women that we needed each other for our survival. You might imagine that if you were ostracised from the group it would mean having to hunt and gather on your own and take care of yourself in times of illness or injury, which would decrease your chances of surviving.
In today’s world, we can feign connection via keeping the television or radio on in the background, scrolling through social media feed, and by knowing the names of our favourite characters on the latest series we are binging on Netflix.
With more serious consequences, we can use drugs and alcohol to create a pretence of confidence and connection – which may disappear by the next morning. True connection involves wanting to understand what is going on for the other person, as well as seeking what you would like from the other person.
Interestingly, knowing someone for a long time does not predict social connection. One study found that longer-term couples actually knew less about each other’s likes and preferences than couples who were relatively new. It seems that after a certain amount of time couples tend to assume they know each other well, and stop being curious about each other. While they may still attain contentment the connection may diminish over time.
The way that people relate to each other can be like a dance together (often called a relationship dynamic) – the more that you are in sync with each other the more fluid the dance can be.
There is some anticipation of what comes next and how to move together, with enough surprise moves to make it exciting. Commonly in longer-term relationships, it becomes increasingly important for both people to focus on connecting.
1) Initiate the fun and pleasure in the relationship – too often couples become prone to focusing on the mundane tasks and worries in their lives. Think about the early stages of your relationship where you couldn’t wait to speak to them again – did you prioritise the dishes over going out and laughing then?
2) Stop assuming – remember to use open questions to show your curiosity and interest.
3) Support each other – this involves really listening and supporting the other person’s decisions and dreams
4) Learn how to communicate
Our Psychologist who specialises in couples, family and relationship counselling is Carla Bormolini. If you would like to book in with any one of our psychologists please contact us via our website or give us a call on 6381 0297
By Lisa Irving