Connectedness is Key
Human beings are social animals. We are born totally dependent on others for our care and most of us spend our early lives living in some type of close unit – a family – surrounded by others. As we grow, having friends makes us feel good. Being in good loving relationships makes us feel secure and safe.
Just as little kids run to a parent when in distress, we all have a natural impulse to turn to others for support and reassurance when we are stressed, worried, sad or in trouble. Even as we grow older, being able to connect with friends and family (or professional counselors when this is necessary) can be incredibly helpful – even if they don’t provide you with solutions to your problems. Just being there with others who care about you makes you feel better.
As you get older you realize that you will have many different types of relationships and connections with others.
- Deep emotional connections – very close family members and friends
- Acquaintances – people who you interact with and are in your life regularly, but you don’t feel particularly close to
- No connection – people who you interact with regularly who you feel no particular connection to
Part of growing up emotionally is being able to manage these different levels of emotional closeness and figuring out what level of closeness is reasonable in different situations or relationships. For example, have you ever met someone who after knowing you for 5 minutes seemed to act like you were best friends? Or someone who seemed like a close friend but then they moved away and never contacted you again? These people seem not to have gotten a good handle on how to balance connectedness.
Another part of connectedness and maturing is developing the ability to be alone and feel ok. It turns out that if you feel confident about your connections to other people (i.e., you are pretty sure your family and friends will be there if you need them), it is much easier to handle being alone for a while.
Why would you think some people can’t stand ever being alone? Think about what we’ve already discussed. If someone is not secure or confident in the people around them, they’ll be really frightened if the people in their lives are not always there with them. If they can’t see them, they are not confident that the support will be there should they need it. So remember, balanced and secure connections are key.
We all need to learn to
- Connect to others
- Have flexible and varied connections that are appropriate to the person and situation
- Be secure enough in our connections to others to be able to be alone