Humans crave relationship. It nourishes us. We degenerate in its absence.
If we want a great relationship, we have to build it. Just like we build our homes.
When you add love to a home by painting walls or planting vegetables, you deepen your connection. Naturally, no home is perfect. We’re aware of every creaking board or not-quite-fitting cupboard door. But a loved, lived-in home is a place of sanctuary, regardless of its quirks.
Your relationships can offer sanctuary too if you treat them like a home you intend to stay in for many years.
Casual acquaintances make useful exercise or one-night stand buddies. But how do you make deep connections that will nourish you through tragedy and empathise about the cost of every triumph?
There are many types of relationships, and no ‘one way’ to grow a good one. But here are three quick strategies to keep in mind.
Use these to identify the relationships that will uplift you.
The most satisfying relationships are founded on shared values.
We team up with people for many reasons, often because we share objectives. It’s often why we marry: we want to grow old together.
It’s good to have agreed goals. But your values determine how you’ll reach for them.
If you’re considering a business partnership or marriage, consider your ideas about the route you’ll take to reach your relationship’s ideal result. Are they similar?
The beliefs you have about religion, money, gender roles, and other things may urge action a friend or partner doesn’t agree with. You may still grow old together. But too many compromises about direction take all gloss from your destination.
Strong relationships can be built easier if there’s agreement on the things that matter. Do you have strong beliefs? Do you share them?
Who is passionate about the things that matter most to you?
The most valuable relationships help you advance your vision.
What are you trying to achieve in life? Who will help you do it?
Help for making a vision happen comes from many sides. It comes from mentors and teachers, and also from those your work helps because feedback gives you chances to become more approachable, effective and influential by becoming more relevant.
The relationships that will deepen fastest are with those who inspire, move and challenge you. But to get the most from them, you’ll have to allow challenge and accept accountability.
Who has similar ideas to you? How could you deepen your relationship by assisting their vision?
Actively created relationships are the most supportive.
A storm will affect your home less if you’ve trimmed tree branches so they won’t threaten if they fall. Cleaning gutters is a bore, but you do it for a reason.
People see what you value by how you allocate your time. Giving something to someone to attract their attention is easy to do once. But contributions that make a difference are the ones you make consistently.
Reach out. Your relationships grow stronger each time you take a moment to write a note, offer touch or a listening ear. The more you do it, the more likely hands or ears will be there for you when you need them.
Additionally, while giving is important in a relationship, so is receiving.
If just one gives, the relationship has no substance. It will be like a chair you sculpt from paper and paint to use as a theatre prop. Your chair will look like the real thing, but it won’t take any weight.
The relationship is built when both parties consistently contribute to it.
Will you show someone today how much you value your relationship?
Growth comes when you actively build relationships that enhance your life.
A meaningful home is created by filling the place you live in with your personality and treasures. The more effort you’ve spent to ‘make it you’, the more it will feel like home.
The same approach will create a nurturing, effective relationship with anyone you care about, as long as the energy flow is not all one way. It will not be equal either; contributions to a relationship are never ‘equal’ because people contribute differently.
I believe that a shared vision is a key attribute of any fulfilling relationship. But the conversations and experiences you’ll have with people as you grow will uplift and change you too. Processes are often more important than outcomes.
By showing you value others, you build trust. And it’s the most significant aspect of a deep relationship. Shallow relationships store very little trust.
A relationship with trust assumed because ‘we have to trust each other’ crumbles under even false accusation. That ‘trust’ has no foundation. You build trust through consistent mutual support, one supportive interaction at a time.
Which relationship will you spend time deepening today?
Photo: Flickr/ Eke Miedaner