That Feeling of Connection

By on Apr 11, 2017

You deserve that deep sense of connection with another human being. We all deserve it. It is fundamental. It is our birthright. It is as much a part of the human experience as eating, breathing or sleeping.

The need and the ability to connect deeply with another person is inside all of us, and we yearn for this connection. We might not consciously know that we want this connection with another person, but we feel it all the same.

For those of us who are single, there is something missing in our life even if we are successful and otherwise living our dreams. This hollowness from not having the connection might be dull and in the background or sharp and eating away at us. But it is there.

Those of us who are married or in a committed relationship also might feel this longing for connection. We have a loving partner and for all intensive purposes we should be getting this need for deep connection met in the relationship, but the connection is missing. We have the partner but not that deep and satisfying partnership we crave. Something is missing.

–> Married and not feeling connected? Read my article written directly for couples who have lost the spark

I have built my life around this human need and the joy it brings when satisfied. There are lots of reasons to be alive, and plenty of great or interesting things in this world. But I discovered early in life that nothing compares to this deep, satisfying, blissful and life-affirming feeling that comes when we connect with another person and expand ourselves to become something larger than we were before. That’s why I live and breathe relationships, why I’m writing you, and why I do just about everything I do.

I’m here to tell you that you not only deserve this connection, but it also is easy to get. Honest. It really is not as hard as we make it. So let’s look at how you can get it.

Why Deep Connection is So Easy—and So Hard

Connecting deeply with another person is simple because it is what we’re built to do as humans.

When we see another person, we naturally start making connections with them and seeing ourselves in them to a greater or lesser degree. On a surface level, we see the shared humanity in the other person—that they are like us. We connect because we understand what it is like to be human: what it means to get dressed in the morning, what it means to be excited or embarrassed, what it means to be hungry or go to work. We do and feel these things, too. So we connect.

On a deeper level, however, we also naturally connect with people through the heart. We don’t just find a shared foundation of experience, we also start to find ourselves in the other person on a much more essential level. We connect with the part of a person that really makes them “them”—and discover that it is the same as the essential part in us!

Once we see that fundamental sameness, we feel deep connection. We feel something magical and nourishing. We feel the spark. We feel real love for the other person, the same love we have for ourselves. This is where the connection with others gets really good and life-affirming.

We do this connecting naturally. There are tips and techniques for making the connecting process faster, but most of us do it unconsciously and in spite of ourselves. We’re built for it.

The problem is that we also are built for self-preservation, and connecting with another person is dangerous because we are vulnerable when we do it.

We are vulnerable because we let the other person see us intimately when we connect, intimacy that enables the other person to hit us where it hurts most. We are vulnerable because we love when we connect, so we have something important we can lose. We also are vulnerable because when we connect, we naturally include this other person in our life and our plans—and including them means the other person can ruin our plans and temporarily derail our life.

Our sense of self-preservation therefore protects us from deep connection. One part of us craves this connection, but another part of us protects against it. We’re at war with ourselves much of the time, wanting connection but not giving it to ourselves.

How to Build that Deep Connection

There is no magic bullet for this tension between connecting deeply with someone and staying safe. I’d love to tell you there’s one simple trick that will let you get close to another person without getting vulnerable, but there isn’t. If it were that easy, we’d all be connected and happy and working together all the time.

The reality is that we can meet our deep emotional need for connection, but the path goes through vulnerability, not around it.

Connecting deeply with someone requires vulnerability, so it is dangerous by definition. We don’t get the connection and wholeness we seek through avoiding this danger, we get it by growing strong enough that the danger is no longer as threatening. The potential for loss is still there, but it is a loss we can bear. We are strong enough that our sense of self-preservation doesn’t scream for us to run the other way and avoid the emotional connection because we know we can easily survive the potential danger.

How do we get this strength? We get it through practice.

Growing the strength to connect deeply with another person is not that different than growing the strength to run a marathon.

The first day we train for a marathon, we don’t run very far because we get tired fast. We’re not in shape yet, so the distances are short. But as we continue training, we get stronger and build the capacity for longer runs before we tire. Eventually, we train our body long enough that we can run that marathon. We definitely still can get tired. We definitely still must take care and do things like stretch and put the right foods in our body before and after the run. But we’ve built strength, and we now can do what seemed impossible before.

The same is true for connecting deeply with another person. The first day we open our heart and make ourselves vulnerable, we won’t connect with the other person on the deepest level because we won’t be fully vulnerable; we can’t survive the emotional danger of full vulnerability because we are still emotionally weak and don’t have adequate coping mechanisms if something really bad were to happen.

Just like training for a marathon, however, something happens when we practice opening ourselves to others: We build capacity by growing stronger. We get a little vulnerable, and we might hurt a little. But this makes us stronger, so we now can get even more vulnerable and it will hurt no more than when we opened up a little before.

If we continue this process of continuously putting ourselves out there and getting vulnerable, eventually we will get so strong that we can be 100 percent open and 100 percent vulnerable without it endangering us beyond momentary pain. We then have the capacity for connections at the deepest level because we’re not engaging our sense of self-preservation.

Of course, we still don’t want to be hurt from connecting deeply with someone. But if it happens, we’re still okay. We are no longer scared of emotional vulnerability, and this makes us masters at deep connection. This makes us emotionally powerful and able to get the connection with other people that we seek and crave.

Why Didn’t I Do this Sooner?

Everyone has this potential for deeply connecting with another person. We all can get that wholeness and joy. We just have to work for it—and have the patience for building the capacity.

This is easier said than done, however. Fear and self-preservation can be powerful forces! Truly putting ourselves out there, even a little, can be scary and hard. We also can make mistakes along the way that put us through needless suffering, just like we can exercise the wrong way and injure ourselves in the process.

If you are feeling that yearning for deep connection, for true love, for having a partner who actually is making the journey through life together with you, get in touch with me and I can help you overcome your fear and build emotional capacity without the pitfalls. I don’t promise that growing the capacity for deep connection is easy or pain-free, but it definitely is something you can get and something you deserve.

Nobody should miss that joy of connection and go through life feeling alone.

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Peter is founder of Kowalke Coaching. He also is founding director of the Philia Mission, a small charitable organization. Contact Peter.