Closeness is the foundation of healthy relationships. It is the ability to connect with another, to gain access to their inner world, and it is a two way process. As a consequence, while building and maintaining closeness is a skill we can learn, closeness can only occur between individuals that have the skills and wish to connect with each other. Closeness is worth developing, for the experience of being socially connected, as well as the, better health, wellbeing, longer life and greater life satisfaction it provides. Closeness is not just the glue for society it is the foundation for a truly fulfilling life.
To develop the skills for closeness it is essential to be aware it is a process, something to do and continue to do because life is about change. The process of closeness involves two key steps 1) knowing and 2) caring. These take time and being present. Too often individuals’ feel they do not have the time and or are too preoccupied to be present with others. Remember if you stop practicing closeness it will fade. The lack of closeness in one’s life ensures a sense of loneliness, separation and lack of belonging. You can only gain from closeness by taking the time, learning to be present and practicing the process of building closeness with those around you continuously.
To get to know someone it is necessary to take the time to establishing a safe space, listen to what they are saying and practicing validation. Key to the process is asking questions out of curiosity, a genuine interest in the other. Alternatively to allow someone to get to know you it is necessary to be able, and willing, to share your own inner world. And to do so in a way that is maintaining a sense of safety. Getting to know someone and sharing with another are challenging processes. There are important communication skills required: listening, questioning, validation, creating and maintaing a safe space. The key mindsets of curiosity, openness and mutual respect are also valuable.
A sense of safety and trust builds with time, even when caring is expressed. It is important that each individual knows they are cared for. Caring for another involves investing in ‘their best interests’. That is to empower them to meet their needs, desires, their right to have a life of personal fulfilment and satisfaction. Being caring also has numerous skills the ability to be empathic, demonstrate caring, being able to handle disagreements and maintain a caring bond over time. Plus the mindset of doing or being in service to the other(s), being kind, generous and having a sense of contentedness.
Building closeness is an important and complex process. It is rather unfortunate that it is not commonly intentionally taught as it is the foundation of our life, particularly when we want a satisfying, connected life.