It is easy to waft through life, concentrating on surface level relationships. For one thing, a relationship purely cultivated on this is free of restraints. There are few expectations, and it doesn’t take much energy to have them. Yet we all find ourselves craving more. Whether it’s a relationship with a family member, a friend you haven’t seen in sometime or an acquaintance, the need for meaningful relationships is fundamental in our lives. Here are 7 steps that will help you create and sustain these in your own life.
1. Be intentional
If you want to be known by this person, they need to feel known by you. Be intentional in your conversations with them and make time to catch up; not just in a group setting but one on one. Meaningful relationships start with the decision to be intentional.
2. Ask them about themselves
There’s nothing more awkward than having a conversation with someone, only to realise they talked about themselves the whole time. Take a genuine interest in your friend’s life and ask them open ended questions like, “Tell me about our family,” or “What motivated you to work in (said industry)?”
3. Be light
A relationship that is too intense too fast isn’t healthy for anyone, so leave moments for the light, mundane and fun. Participate in group activities, go to the movies, talk about the TV show you love to watch, or have coffee and cake. A good friend knows how to have fun and embrace every moment, no matter how heavy or light it may be.
4. Practice honesty
If something is concerning you and a person is displaying unhealthy habits (passive aggressive or egocentric tendencies, a lack of care for themselves), speak up. A meaningful relationship must be based on more than just peace and agreeableness; it needs to be built on truth.
5. Remember important details
This is far easier said than done, but there is value in a friend remembering a birthday, an anniversary, an important event, or a concern you discussed the last time you caught up. Get to know more about what makes a person tick by asking them about significant events, family occasions, the lives of their children and their spouse.
6. Be open
We have a tendency to be guarded in our relationships, especially when we have been hurt in the past. While we do need to be cautious as we establish new relationships; making sure we really click with a person, that they are trustworthy and that they possess the qualities of a good friend, there is also room to be open. Leave a crack in the door so others can see part of your life, and as your relationship builds allow this openness to increase.
7. Be genuine
Don’t put on a show for people, saying and doing what you think they want in a friend. Focus on being authentic, showing them your real interests and passions, your strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you give them permission to be ‘real’ with you, and this gives your relationships the space to deepen and grow.