I'm vibing with this Emotional Connection (EC)
Emotional Connection (or “EC”) is the driving force to any long-lasting relationship. EC is the fuel to the vehicle, wind to the windmill, the straw to the berry, the jelly in the PB&J sandwich... you get the idea. EC is what distinguishes the relationship we have with our partner from all the rest, what makes someone special or “the one”. The focus of treatment, for so many of the couples I work with, is helping to define and regain EC… something that is easier said than done. Regaining EC is challenging even for the most Emotionally Intelligent. It’s challenging since it begins with tearing down all the emotional walls built up within the relationship or that was developed prior. In this blog, I am hoping to shed a bright light on this under-prioritized element in a relationship, which may help gain a new awareness of EC that can only inherently make it stronger and last longer.
Vulnerability has a direct correlation with opportunities for EC… meaning, the more vulnerable/open you are, the more likely an Emotionally Connection can form with your partner. Unfortunately, many of us were not taught how to be vulnerable on the spot, or how to channel vulnerability into a productive and deeply revealing conversation. Many of us (especially for us men) have the misconception that Vulnerability = Weakness. If this misconception is all that you know, then you are also aware that feeling vulnerable, triggers your defense mechanisms with those emotional walls springing up out of thin air! Vulnerability can trigger people to feel backed into a corner, which is the opposite of what we need to create a connection with others - you just can’t form any connections in an emotional boxing match.
If EC is truly what you want, allow me to pitch a shift, a necessary state of mind: Vulnerability = Connection. When you display vulnerability, accountability, honesty in yourself, etc., you are shaping yourself to be...relatable! In this state of mind, you’re also signaling to others (whether you realize it or not) that your walls are down and you’re open to making connections ~ added BONUS ~ this also makes the person you’re opening up with to feel special!
One way to know if all your hard work is paying off, you might hear things like: “wow, I had no idea, that makes sense why you feel that way” or “no way, I feel that way too!!” is a tell-tale sign that you’re having one of these conversations. In return, you'll be inspiring the other person to open up as well.
“What's the point” Pattern
After some practice being in a state of vulnerability with your partner, trust in communication and willingness to confide starts to develop. Your partner is now willing to take a chance on sharing what is on their mind, knowing it will likely be in a safe and supportive environment - “I know he/she will get it” - this is emotional trust. With some consistency, a deep connection can form. Now you have your person!
Through the years, many couples can struggle to maintain emotional trust. A common pitfall, is what I call the “What’s the point?” pattern. Here’s one of my go-to examples to explain: Jack and Jill have not felt heard by the other in quite some time. Jack is feeling upset about something Jill had said. Jack will not tell Jill about his feelings or even attempt to involve Jill in resolving his emotional need because there is a lack of emotional trust in the relationship. When he’s upset, he feels the need to opening up to Jill and to resolve these feelings, yet Jack feels as though Jill won’t be able to “see what it’s like for me…" since there is constant dismissive/defensiveness in their communication. So what’s the point of saying anything at all?”. On the flip side, Jill is constantly confronting Jack about things that he does and would like him to change, however, Jack’s behavior may only change for a brief period of time. This leaves Jill feeling as though “every time I tell him what I need, it lasts for a week and then goes back...so what’s the point of saying anything at all?”. If this pattern continues both Jack and Jill will have enough emotional build-up that resentment and apathy start to take front and center, blocking the ability to emotionally connect and the relationship will suffer if it continues.
Some pointers to keep in mind
My biggest recommendation is a shift in thought. I would like for us to know when our partner comes to us with an emotional need, they are showing faith and hope that their needs will be met with support. It can be a rewarding experience. Not to burden you or attack (depending on their approach of course). When you show openness and overall willingness to engage, EC has the potential to develop, thus bringing your relationship to a new level. When our partner does not come to us, is where the concern actually lies.
There are times where one feels they are making an effort to be emotionally present and their partner does not notice. In this circumstance, pause and I encourage you both to ask “What does progress look like when it comes to growth in an emotional connection?”. One may have a different idea than the other (That is common). This can help set the tone for expectations. Overall to be on the same page towards EC growth.
For those who find their partner displaying emotional attempts, I ask you to recognize their efforts the moment it occurs “ I appreciate you being here” even “I really enjoyed when you did this, do more of that”. Simple positive reinforcement continues the effort on your partner’s end. If this goes unnoticed you’re likely to see fewer attempts over time now falling into the “What’s the point pattern” from what I discussed earlier. Plus, nothing like feeling appreciated and seen by your loved one. More to come. Thank you for reading.