More than ever before people are connected to others people's lives. We get an inside look into the daily happenings of people whom we may not even know all that well. So in this very well connected society, it is so shocking to find out that really people feel less connected than ever. I often see people complain about the lack of depth in their relationships or just the lack of real friendships in general.
And for those who are connecting and sharing their lives on social media, I see a lot of those people talk about social anxiety. So they seem very open but in all honesty when it comes to actually connecting face to face they struggle.
Then there is the perplexing group of people that are very open and have no issue connecting face to face but they lack consistency and depth in their friendships. I am sure there are so many other scenarios that I haven’t even come close to hitting but these are the ones that I feel like I understand the most.
I have put together a quick check up from the neck up for those of you who feel like you fall in any of these categories. BUT let me say this, only read this if you feel like this year you want to improve the quality of your relationships. If you don’t and you want to remain thinking that other people are the problem than please don’t continue on, or you are likely to get offended and think I am rude.
What I will say is, that nothing that I say here is advice that I haven’t had to tell myself. These are questions that I have had to ask myself. I have been brutally honest with myself in this area and I was intentional about the changes that I made and because of that I have beautiful and flourishing friendships in my life.
So here it is, call it your Relationship Evaluation:
- Do you believe that people are a worthwhile investment?
This is a serious question because if you don’t fully believe that the answer is yes that none o this matters. I am not here to explain to you the value of others. Just think about it, could you make it through this life without the people who have been your support players?
- Are you willing to have crucial conversations?
In every relationship there will be good times and not so good times. You can think you know someone so well and suddenly they do something that you feel is outside of their character and it shocks you. Or you can think you and this new bestie are so much alike only to find out you actually strongly disagree on some things. This is going to happen in every relationship and that is ok. Some people use moments like this as an excuse to bow out and go find some new best friend. Personally I choose to address things. Conversations like this can be awkward but I would rather tell someone how I feel than leave them guessing what in the world they did wrong. Maybe the differences are so much so that you won’t be able to continue being as close as you were or maybe you will get even closer because you now understand each other better. But the fact remains if you want to have longevity in your friendships you have to be willing to go beneath the surface level and talk about real things sometimes in order to strengthen a friendship. If something is bothering you tell them, don’t just kick them to the curb. Maybe because you cared enough, you will be the person that causes them to become better.
- Do people always have to reach out to you?
When I hear from a third party, “so & so says you never talk to them anymore”, that really boils my blood. The craziest thing about a cell phone, calls and text messages can actually go both ways. I know that is just shocking. But if you are never the person to reach out first than you cannot blame anyone else for your loneliness. Maybe that person wants to know that every once in a while you actually think about them. That is one thing about relationships. They cannot be one sided. If your friend is always the one that has to reach out to create a correspondence, or if they are the one that has to be diligent about trying to get together eventually that will get tiring and they will give up. Not because they don’t love you but because it doesn’t seem like you love them the same. People want to feel eagerness reciprocated or they will lose the desire to pursue you. Stop being difficult and playing hard to get with your friends and your loved ones.
- Do you check in on people?
To further expand on the point above. Not every time you talk to someone does it mean you have to schedule dinner or a coffee date. Especially once you get to the point in life where you have a family. With that being said it is nice to check in on people even if it is as simple as “Hey I was thinking about you., how are you?”. Engage in a brief conversation and let them know they were on your mind. If you check in on others, they will check in on you. This keeps a friendship strong between the times when you are able to spend time together. This also helps people feel less alone, typically these little messages come right on time.
- Keep up with someone’s life and their interests.
There is no better way to engage in an enriching and productive conversation than to let them know you have been keeping up with them. When you do this you tap into what that person is passionate about and most likely. It will lead to them inviting you into that part of their life because you have showed interest or they will engage with you in the things that you are passionate about.
Couple questions to ask yourself about the last time you got together with someone…..
1. Did the conversation go back and forth or were they merely a good sport to your therapy session?
If you have reached out to a friend and say that you needed to talk and they have agreed to get together, well then obviously this doesn’t apply to you. There are a ton of times in relationships that are strong, when you or that person may need to get together just to be able to voice what has been on your heart and to be comforted by someone that understand you. There are also mentor protege relationships where you are bearing your sole because this person is at a place in life where you want to be and they are willing to help you get there.
This is more for the person that meets up with people in hopes to cultivate a deeper connection and leave feeling great about it but then you don’t really hear from that person anymore. The reason being because if you sat down to get to know each other or to “catch up” and all you id ws talk about your life and your problems and that want the expectation, well then that person left feeling like you don’t care at all about their life. No one wants to participate in a one sided relationship.
2. Did you learn anything new about that person?
If you didn’t then the chances are you did not ask them enough questions and the conversation was pretty one sided. You can know someone for years and still learn something new about them every time that you get together.
3. Did you waste their time?
What did you offer to that person. What I have found is that people will literally beg for your time and then waste it. They treat you like their personal waste management that is there to collect all of their junk. Gosh I know that I have done this to people in the past and that makes me embarrassed to think about but I am gad I realized that so I could change it.
With this it still comes back to this, does it go both ways? Don’t ask someone to take on your junk if your not willing to take on some of theirs. They will leave feeling weighed down and they will avoid that feeling in the future which in turn means avoiding you. Relationships must be mutually beneficial to be long lasting.
4. Are you the same person that you present yourself to be?
It can be really confusing and disorienting for the people who are trying t invest in your life, the you present yourself one way but then act completely different. If you display joy and laughter and goofiness then the people in your life expect to be met with that person. It sucks to fin out that your friends are presenting themselves one way to complete strangers to be liked and then presenting themselves to you in a very blasé manner. Or you act strong, confident and in love with yourself and then you come to them with this self loathing attitude. It says to them that you don’t care and that you are giving them your left overs. Seriously, determine to be a, what you see if what you get type of person. Not just for the sake of your followers on instagram but for the sake of the people that actually have to put up with you on a regular basis. Nothing more awkward than knowing the real stuff going on in someones life that they chose to tell you all about and then see that they present something different to people that don’t really care. Better to chill out on posting when your working through life and to just take a break, than to be fake.
When it comes to relationships there is so much more to talk about. There are thousands of books out there about how to create strong and lasting relationships. A couple quick book recommendations that drive deeper a few of the topics I hit on.
I have just seen such a lack in relationship and I hear people being open about it and I want to help. As for me in my life, when I feel like there is an area that is struggling, I first evaluate myself. Pointing fingers doesn’t typically help anything. I have had to give myself this quick relationship check up multiple times. I hope that with the right heart to receive that even in a small way this might be able to help you.
I would love to hear your feedback and maybe I can do a relationship evaluation series!