I’m 42 years old, and I have a talent for creating and maintaining long-term relationships. In fact, my two best friends are a man and a woman I met when we were only in pre-school. To be 3 years old and forge some sort of bond that lasts decades feels like a wonderful accomplishment.
So, that’s what this post is going to focus on – seeking lifelong connections.
Along the way, I have other friendships and solid relationships that have spanned from childhood or adolescent years to now. I have a nice group of college and early career relationships, too. Not everyone has to become my best friend, and this is not a nod to social media and the internet either. I have a more personal approach to my relationships, and it’s the reason I am writing this post.
I would say that since I am the tailbone of Gen X, I am someone who embraced technology and the idea of “social” constructs being public, like they are today. I had no real issue with using DOS systems, chatting forums, AOL pages, instant messages, MySpace, Friendster, and all of the predecessors to today’s avid world of virtual reality. I liked it. It meant I could connect with more people quickly, and find my tribe a bit faster.
However, it would be a lie to claim that this is why these friendships and others have lasted so long. I spent much personal one on one time in cars, driving with coffee and snacks late at night, or hours on phone calls mutually listening. I have countless memories of meals, moments, and misery, too!
Real connection happens when life is lived together.
The idea that I am seeking is a bit false. I don’t feel I am seeking anyone out. I didn’t seek my other best friends either, and in some cases, friendships became closer or less close, depending on how often I saw a person. That’s normal – happens to all of us. Things happen organically with human connections. You either click or you do not, and sometimes you click and eventually de-click. It’s all part of our nature as social beings.
I’m not apologetic for not fitting another person’s expectations of me anymore. Once a upon a time, I wanted that acceptance that is normal for the young. I’ve outgrown that a number of years ago. Today, if a person has made an implied commitment to care about me, I certainly hope they’re mature enough to hold up their end of that idea. There’s not a lot of time in adulthood for takers only.
Lifelong implies that this person knows you for your whole life. Well, that’s a bit of a unicorn, and I understand I am incredibly lucky. My best friends are a group of people who truly know me through the “before and after” stages of many areas in my growth. They took and gave, and I did likewise. They are irreplaceable time capsules, because within them, live memories of older versions of me. No one else has that. No one else ever will have that – not in the same way.
So, what happens if you start a connection today?
What happens to the people I meet today and onwards? Are they less special?
No. The answer is no.
Respecting people’s timing for when they entered my life is part of the process in connection. Connection is not limited to your toddler playmate. It would be unfair to place that expectation of intimacy on every human being I encounter. That’s almost as if I expect everyone to morph into an “almost family” status, and that’s not fair to them or myself.
But I love connection that is new.
I love meeting other kind souls who fill the remaining holes of my human experience. Maybe our road will be short or long. Perhaps, they will know me for a year or five or 50 more. I don’t know. Neither do they.
That’s a refreshing reset that we can all enjoy. My intention when I meet a person is to make them a part of my life for as long as we BOTH wish that to be the case. I can’t force anyone to be a part of my life.
What does it meant to be a part of my life?
Well, it’s not going to stay online. I have many connections over the years who have begun as online. I have a couple of old friendships who I have never met in person due to geographic distance, but they span decades. It’s about letting people into your real life and the real you, and not only the meme you find humorous or the perfect selfie you took after 20 tries.
Being the real you is important in a world where we veer more and more into a virtual state. The intangible may seem mystical at first, but it can damage our ability for REAL lifelong connection with another person. I don’t need a post to have four thousand likes and three thousand comments about how awesome I am. I don’t need to be perceived as perfect by a bunch of strangers. That’s not connection. That’s not something to seek.
Attention is not connection.
Connection is when you have a mutual state of establishing that you could be a part of EACH OTHER’s lives, and that there is an unsaid period of time to determine how long that part will play out to be.
I hope that when you seek out real connections with people, you don’t do it for entertainment, or for ideas, or because – gasp – you’re bored. There are surely lots of people in your life who could deserve a real phone call or a cup of coffee. Even a Zoom for those who are far apart. Being yourself is about allowing the connection you feel to be reciprocated by the other person. That’s what will make it lifelong.
Don’t seek anything. Let the connections that life brings your way unfold, but don’t become an obstacle for them to be real. Be yourself. Let the other person be real, too. Appreciate that space and create a safe space for differences, because that is how lifelong connections are MADE and MAINTAINED.
Happy connecting to all!