Between social media, work, errands and various engagements, there is no denying that we are daily surrounded by people.

Yet, some of us still end the day feeling lonely and longing for real connection.

woman sitting alone on stone wall, gazing at cityscape

When the Like button on Facebook or Instagram can’t fill our seeking hearts and dispel our loneliness, we turn on ourselves, wondering what we lack in personality or lifestyle that prevents us from connecting with others.

Forming genuine connections to others is easier said than done in this fast-paced, technologically-driven world.

However, with some helpful back-to-basic tips, we can develop deeper, long-lasting relationships.

Opening Up

“You have to open up.”

You’ve most likely heard this multiple times in your life, either from your dentist trying to get a better look at your teeth, or someone close to you encouraging emotional growth.

Opening up is a key part of connecting with others because it helps build trust between two people. When we refer to opening up, it means really communicating our inner self to others. The thoughts and emotions that constitute our internal self make us the complicated, dynamic people we are.

However, opening up is more difficult for some than it is for others. We rest on superficial or surface-level relationships with other people because we fear the consequences of showing someone our true selves. (Will they accept who we truly are?) So, we think that if we close ourselves off, no one has the chance to reject us. 

The reality of this fear and unwillingness to be vulnerable with others keeps us feeling lonely, alienated, and even socially anxious.

How to Begin Making Genuine Connections

Connecting with others starts with connecting to ourselves. When we are secure with who we are, we find that reaching out and opening up are no longer a struggle.

There are several steps that we can begin taking today that have great influence on our self-confidence and emotional growth.

two women sharing a blanket and a moment

1. Get in touch with your feelings

Often those who are feeling lonely are the ones who hide behind fake or surface-level emotions. Are you the kind of person who is always “doing fine” when asked? Are you the office jokester, ready to entertain others to avoid sharing deeper feelings?

We can’t genuinely connect with others without a bit of vulnerability. This means getting truthful with our real emotions, both to others and ourselves.

2. Open up in good and bad times

We cannot build genuine connections solely on the high moments of life. Someone who seems to have it all or is only reaching out when they feel good makes others feel intimated and skeptical. Some days, we might feel less self-confident than others. But these days are just as important to be reaching out to others.

3. Be in the moment

We should shut off the smartphones, laptops, and tablets when around others. There is no better way to isolate ourselves from others than to literally place a physical device between us and them. Going out for a walk, joining a club, or inviting coworkers out for a drink after work can help us to get more in touch with the here and now.

4. Be a good listener

Genuine connections are a two-way road. If we want others to listen and accept our inner selves, we need to be actively listening to their thoughts and feelings too. We can show our care by nodding, asking questions, and keeping eye contact while another person is opening up.

Feeling lonely is something that we all go through in life. For those of us who have this feeling often or feel isolated from others, learning how to make genuine connections is a crucial step. Implementing some basic self-reflecting skills into our daily interactions can be the solution to resolving loneliness and filling a longing heart.

Considering Relationship Therapy can also help you adopt the skills necessary to connect with others.