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Authentic Connections | Katharine Chestnut

5 Ways to Build Authentic Connections

We all create a variety of relationships in our lives: some will last for decades, and others might only last for the length of a plane flight. Some complain that they don’t have time for an authentic connections or friendships, or weren’t very good at making new friends growing up. 

The friendships we have growing up might look much different than the adult relationships we have today. And the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is crucial in today’s world. 

Building authentic relationships means creating long-lasting connections with others that support us, today and in the future. Having healthy relationships isn’t something that comes easy to everyone, and it takes time to develop an authentic relationship with another person. Here are some steps that anyone can take to start creating meaningful relationships and better long-term connections. 

Understanding Adult Relationships

There are different types of connections that you might create as an adult, with varying levels of intimacy and communication. Think about your present relationships: Maybe you’re married, perhaps you have coworkers, or college friends who you keep in touch with. You might consider some of these relationships more of a priority than others, especially if you make financial or other big decisions with them. 

You might even have some areas in your life that you’d like to spice up a little bit. Your daily walk or knitting hobby could be more fulfilling with other people there (I love to meeting new people at my LYS). Personally, I like to head out for a walking break with one or two of the people in my coworking space. Let go of expectations around what friendship “should” look like—instead, focus on creating connection with another person and making space for them. 

Create Space in Your Life for Connection

Authentic Connections | Katharine Chestnut

It’s important to recognize what kind of time you have to build connections with others, and if you want to spend more time with other people. Make sure you get “you” time, but look at areas of your life where you might include others. 

TIPS: You CAN make space for more authentic connections in a couple ways:

  • Start a conversation! Ask people how their day is or what they’ve been reading. 
  • Try inviting new people who you click with to go hiking, shopping, or volunteer with you. 
  • Practice active listening when you talk to people—make eye contact and engage. Ask thought-provoking questions that indicate that you are actually listening.  It can be as simple as repeating something they said that indicates that you understand. 
  • I like to follow up by sending a text or email when we’ve made plans or committed to do something.

Make Authentic Relationships a Real Priority

Creating authentic relationships is important, and scientists are studying how much friendship supports a healthy overall lifestyle. “Having good, strong friendships is as important for yourself as diet and exercise, and so it’s something you need to prioritize,” says science journalist and author Lydia Denworth. She points out that intimate relationships and friendships take time and energy, however.

”You have to do the work along the way, or they won’t be there. Friendship does take some time, but that’s kind of good news because (mostly) hanging out with your friends is fun,” says Lydia.

How to Nurture Relationships in a Digital Age

In many ways, we have an overwhelming amount of ways to connect with other people. Whether you call, text, or Facebook message your friends, it’s important to set boundaries around how people are able to reach you. 

“Some people like to talk in person. Others like texting better. Video chats can be fun too. If your friend is constantly initiating a form of communication that you’re not comfortable with or that you simply don’t have time for, just let them know,” writes therapist Karmen Smith for Talkspace.

That’s why it’s important to note how much time and energy you have for relationships and communication with new friends. There might be some weeks that you need some radio silence—you can use technology to your advantage by putting your phone on do not disturb.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Making and keeping friends as an adult is often challenging. Depending on what sort of experiences we had in early childhood, we might have a lot of insecurity and anxiety around meeting new people. If you’re an adult with responsibilities, putting effort into new relationships can get overwhelming!

Although, don’t be too harsh on yourself: Making friends not a skill that many people learn.

Luckily, this is also an area where having friends can be a huge support! An honest and direct friend can help you learn the skills to build better connections. And by being willing to connect with others, you will start to learn how to nurture those individual relationships and what you truly need from them to feel supported. 

The Importance of Authentic Connection

When we can truly connect with other people, we might find that we develop a stronger relationship with ourselves. “Friendships are a crucial part of living a fulfilling life. It’s so important that we surround ourselves with people who we have fun with, who support us, and people who make us better,” says Dr. Robert Puff for Psychology Today.

Friends can actually help us feel more like ourselves—in many ways a lifelong relationship will help us reveal our true self.  


Looking to connect with yourself more too?
You can start with more authentic journaling here.