Being close with another person is one of the most satisfying parts of the human experience. According to the article in Psychology Today, Getting Close, social isolation or the lack of close relationships is as much a risk factor for mortality as smoking. The wider our social support network, the better our chances of warding off obesity, high blood pressure and other corrosive conditions. The degree of support people feel they have from family, friends and significant others actually counteracts serious health risks.
But today, we have more difficulty than ever in maintaining close relationships. There are so many reasons why it's hard to develop close relationships - we are busy with school or work, we have distractions like surfing the Internet or playing video games , or we just don't know how to meet people. Maybe we're scared to be rejected so we don't reach out. These road blocks to intimacy are significant so it truly takes an effort to put yourself out there to become closer to others.
Closeness and intimacy begin when a person shares something emotionally meaningful with someone else. The sharer is taking a chance that the other will respond in a positive, accepting manner. If this doesn't happen, we can feel hurt and rejected. However, if we can put it into perspective and recognize that this person isn't the only person available to be close to, we can get over it quickly and try again. Eventually we will find someone who will respond in the manner we need them to. It takes courage to do this but the benefits of feeling closer outweigh the risks. Some ways to make connections in order to increase close relationships:
I want to highlight volunteering as I believe that everyone should volunteer their time if they can. The benefits of helping others cannot be overemphasized. It is a wonderful way to meet and connect with people but it also helps us feel valued and gives us perspective on our own lives. Volunteering and all of the other suggestions above are wonderful ways to make connections and increase close relationships. With a little bit of effort, we can develop closeness and intimacy, have a more satisfying life and ward off disease.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.