According to research, our relationships will be the number one predictor of our lifespan.

Here are the typical responses that I hear when I ask, “Are you fulfilled in your relationships?”:

-No – I don’t always feel like I have someone I could go to to talk

-Not really.  I am ready for a romantic relationship, but don’t have the time to commit.  My relationship with my family is strained. My relationships with my friends are OK, but I would like to foster new relationships.

-No, I’m not close to anyone expect my boyfriend and if I lose him I’ll be even more lost. I’ve lost many of my close friends due to moving and am having difficulty connecting with people.

-I feel like I have a really strong bond with my parents and have relied heavily on them during challenges. I am not happy with my current partnership and I feel like I have alienated myself from my friends because I don’t want to burden them with my problems.

-No, I definitely have a lot of work to do as far as making better connections. I’m trying to work through a lot of those challenges now.

So if creating relationships is essential to well being, what can we do to help foster healthy relationships?

I believe author Shasta Nelson does an excellent job of breaking this down in her book, Frientimacy (2016).*

Here’s a quick and dirty version of the basics. To see the full positive impact of friendship, we want 3 strong relationships. A core relationship has 3 key characteristics that are developed within friendship, over time.

  • Showing up consistently
  • Vulnerability
  • 5 positives to 1 negative

Let’s take a look at that in action:

Suzie is sitting on the grass with the warm sun on her back. She’s really excited because she got a raise at work and wants to celebrate this accomplishment. She wiggles her toes in the grass and thinks about what friend to call.

Scrolling through each friend in her mind, she thinks about which friend she wants to share the good news with.

Mhhhhh she thinks, Jen is probable home but last time I shared something good with her she seemed more interested in telling me about how awful her last date was, rather than celebrating with me.  

Kesha on the other hand was so excited when I told her that I got the job, that she asked to grab a glass of wine so she could hear all about it.

What Suzie did without knowing it was check which characteristics were present in her friends to decide who she wanted to connect with. Most of the time, what I see happening to good people is that they have competing values that are blocking them from showing up how they want to in relationships. This can lead to a very unsatisfactory social life.

If your head is nodding in agreement, then here are a few tips that you can take action on right now!

  • Showing Up Consistently:
    • Reach out to schedule an in-person activity with 3 people who you’d enjoy getting to know better. 
    • Once you have committed to meeting with them, treat the date with the same level of respect as you would a work commitment.
  • Vulnerability:
    • Talk about what’s real and important for you.
    • When you go to share something, are you holding back because you’re worried about their reaction? If so, check in with yourself to see if you’re not comfortable because you’ve had a bad experience of sharing with this person in the past or is it a general hesitation to share vulnerable?
  • 5 Positives to 1 Negative:
    • Focus on the positive the majority of the time.
    • If you find yourself continually veering towards what’s not going well, it may be a good time to check in with yourself and see what’s not working well to make some changes.

P.S. Ladies, if it’s time to find your tribe and you’re wondering where you can meet some amazing women to build community with, then check out our Know Thyself Women’s Workshop Series this fall. . Through both intimate workshop-style gatherings as well as real-world get-togethers you will learn about what you desire in your relationships, and additionally, you will strengthen your skills so you can create the relationships you desire. Together, we create a connective and supportive community of inspiring brilliant women who are with you all the way. Hope you can join us! .

*Nelson, S. (2016). Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness. Seal Press.