When was the last time you hung out with a group of new people who you thought could someday develop into a close friendship? How did your interaction with them turn out? Were you your bare bones self or did you tense up and hold back? Long-term established relationships are difficult enough, let alone trying to wade through the current of a new relationship.
Why is establishing a new relationship so difficult? I’m sure the reasons are many, but for me, an immediate reason that comes to mind is that relationships in general, especially new developing ones, demand something from us that we are afraid to give; that is: our true self.
Maybe it’s because of the fear of rejection, or maybe we have been hurt one to many times, but giving our true self to someone else is one of the most fearful things to do that I can think of. What if you open up to someone and you find out the hard way that this people is not trust worthy? What you thought was confidential information about a situation you were going through is now common knowledge to everyone. How do even begin to retract what has already been said? How do you deal with the betrayal of broken trust in the early stages of a relationship? The truth is, in many cases you can’t.
Sometimes a person betrays you and cuts you to deep for that relationship to be restored to the place it was in its glory days, even more so is the case in the earliest stages of a realtionship. Again, the fear of being hurt can actually hold us back from having genuine friendship with people who haven’t done anything to us, and in the long run, if we do not over come the fear of getting hurt in relationships then we will never know what it feels like to experience the joys of companionship.
So, what is the solution to this problem of being vulnerable enough to hopefully establishing a long-lasting friendship ? How can we overcome our fears in this area and be on the road to true and lasting fellowships with other broken people like ourselves?
Let me give you a few practical tips that may help.
- First, we must remember what plain old wisdom says. It simply is not wise of us to give all of ourselves to someone within the first few weeks of a new relationship, especially not the first day you meet someone. Trust me, this idea of completely giving all of yourself to someone within the first few weeks may not be your issue, but this is a problem for many. Some people are so eager to be loved and excepted by another person that they would literally do anything to please that person, even at the expense of their own injury. Take your time. Let the person you’re getting to know feel you out as you do the same and in time, little by little a long-lasting friendship may develop.
- Second, if you’re trying to establish a long-lasting relationship with someone new you are going to have to be more interested in them then you are in yourself. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Most people love to talk about themselves, but if you want to establish a true, long lasting friendship you need to have the state of mind that says, “I am going to be a listener and not a chatty high-jacker of the conversation. You want to be the kind of person that thinks, “how can I serve this person by being a good listener and seek to meet their needs rather than having all my needs met? Truth be told, the other person should be thinking the same way but even if there not you can set the tone for what a good listener should look like in a healthy relationship. Even if your efforts are in vain and what you hoped the relationship to be did not come to pass you at least did everything on your end to be the best listener and selfless person you can be, and in that you brought glory to God. Relationships often crumble because someone in that relationship was selfish and inconsiderate of the other person and failed to make the wrong right, so establishing, “the me second and them first mentally” can really plant the seeds to a potentially great relationship if not now hopefully in the future.
- Lastly, if your going to be on the road of establishing a long-lasting relationship with someone it is vitally important that you transparent. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Edwin, I thought you told me to take my time in this new relationship, and now your telling me to be transparent?” Yes, the truth of the matter is that at some point in this new relationship your going to have to take small risks, and the more time that goes by your going to have to take greater risks than last time, so take a small risk and be transparent about your feelings today. You don’t have to necessarily pour out all of your heart before this person, but give them a little nugget and see what happens. If you always only stay on the surface level with people, than you will always only produce surface level friendships, and let’s be honest; don’t we already have enough of those?
Let’s summarize what was said
- Relationships are hard, yes, but if we are going to have long-lasting friendships we are going to have to take risks, so start by taking your time. Don’t rush. Next, make sure you always remember the importance of have a “me 2nd mentally.”
- Lastly, little by little, be as transparent as the moment calls for. Don’t give all of your self to someone today, but also make sure that you are not holding yourself back so much that you seem fake and inauthentic. Simple right? Yeah, about that. Like I said relationships are hard so you’re not going to be close with everyone but with hard work and determination, and a little luck you may be someone who has what few people have. A solid friendship that’s founded on love and trust.