Dr. Elena Duong
Updated: Mar 10
During COVID, the significance of relationships has become more prominent. Relationships have flourished or deteriorated in this time. Pre-pandemic, many people have been so focused on their daily tasks/lives that they may have neglected their personal relationships. Some may have come to the realization they don’t have any significant relationships in their lives and are feeling lonely. Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General, noted that loneliness may appear differently depending on the person, so people may appear fine but are struggling internally with this feeling (Suttie, 2020).
In this age of technology, we often feel more disconnected than connected. There is constantly a facade whether on social media or in front of friends. But, do any of them really know what is going on with you? We are noticing more clients who feel a lack of deep connection and meaningful relationships these days. There is also a lack of vulnerability present, which may be the cause or result of the disconnect in those relationships.
Why Are We Disconnected and/or Lack Meaningful Relationships?
From my point of view, we are enculturated to look and be the “most successful.” This concept is an outcome of multiple factors, partly due to not wanting to be hurt, being taught not to show emotions/vulnerability, being raised in a very competitive and individualistic culture, among other things. All this results in is a more materialistic, capitalistic, and disconnected society.
How to Develop Meaningful Relationships?
As cliché as it is, it is never too late to develop meaningful relationships. The most important factor is vulnerability. When all we talk about is the surface topics like gossip or the weather, there is no depth. If all we talk about is mutual hatred/dislike for another person, the relationship is based on negativity/gossip and will have a difficult time transforming into something meaningful.
But, when one shares a little of their genuine experiences/struggles/thoughts, you allow an opportunity for another person to connect with you at a human level. If they don’t respond well to this, then you know this person is likely not the person to develop a meaningful relationship with. If, by chance, this person reciprocates and is able to be vulnerable with you, then you have the potential beginnings of a meaningful relationship.
If you are interested in learning more about the importance of vulnerability, I recommend listening Dr. Brene Brown’s audiobook, The Power of Vulnerability, or watch her Ted talk on YouTube.
At the end of the day, the most important step in developing meaningful relationships is vulnerability, which is incredibly difficult due to the risk of rejection. Without the risk, there is no possibility of developing meaningful relationships. We miss out on 100% of the things we never try.
There is nothing like being seen and loved by people who truly know you, your fears, and imperfections. We encourage you to take the risk since the ability to experience true meaningful relationships is one of the most beautiful things in life. Please don’t miss out.
If you want some mental health support with us on this journey, feel free to reach out to us through our site.
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Female Gender Roles/Stereotypes."
“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.” By Dr. Brene Brown
Suttie, J. (2020, May 14). How Loneliness Hurts Us and What to Do About It. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_loneliness_hurts_us_and_what_to_do_about_it
Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.
Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.