Authors, researchers, wise men and women have described this need for connection in many different ways. Maya Angelou expressed it as the four questions we are always asking:
– Do you see me?
– Do you care that I’m here?
– Am I enough for you (do you need me to be better in some way)?
– Can I tell that I’m special to you by the way that you look at me?
We ask these questions in different ways in different relationships and the answers are always profoundly important.
Even the most content introvert who finds solace in solitude for long periods of time still needs some connection – with themselves and the truth in their heart and also with the world of others – and that connection must be meaningful.
If we find that our closest relationships are ones where we believe “the other” finds us to be less than enough, the pain can be crushing. Sometimes it is a quiet dissatisfaction that, like a poison, slowly spreads. When we know we are loved and accepted, fully, unconditionally, then we have space to grow and to flourish in safety and joy.
One reason many people seem to prefer relationships with their pets is that the answers that we get to these questions are yes, yes, yes and yes! What’s not to like about that?!
So what’s the lesson to learn? There are many I could choose to discuss but today one stands out for me.
How about “Learn to put your phone away when you’re in company!”. As I facilitate discussions in workshops or watch people in social settings I sometimes see people in twos, threes or fours. I watch from a distance as someone checks their phone. Just a quick look, a glance. Was that a new message or maybe an email? I see them looking at their favoured social media app and even, skilfully typing using only their thumb.
Whether they intend it or not, the message they are sending to their companions is “My phone and the people therein are more important to me than are you. You’re here, you’re in my face and you’re not enough.”. It’s certainly not the best way to build relationships, for the short term or for the long term.
If you want to build more meaningful relationships – working, social or romantic – put your phone away!