Lindsay Mason is a counselor at the Rowan University Wellness Center who works on the “Lindsay’s Corner” initative. “Ask Lindsay” is designed to be a space where she answers YOUR questions about mental health and wellness. Send your questions/comments/thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
February is the month for lovers—or at least it is by conventional, societal standards. I’ve realized in the last few years that we culturally tend to emphasize love and intimacy with partners, especially during Valentine’s season, while ignoring the importance of these qualities in other bonds we build.
For those who have had a close friend, you know that physical/sexual attraction is not necessary to create a beautiful and genuine bond with another. A great friendship can keep our ship sailing in the roughest of seas and fulfill our human need to be connected to another. Yet, as a society we tend to spend less time reflecting on how to repair the damage to a relationship with a friend versus that of a lover. So how does one build, or repair, an intimate bond with another?
Well, we may know how, yet our technological age tends to make it difficult to create those intimate bonds, whether by accident or by choice. Our smart phones and access to all sorts of social media have us believe that we are “connected” to others, yet we forget that intimacy takes revealing more about ourselves over a span of time to build trust and understanding. Intimacy is also built from physical touch, a caring hand on the shoulder or a much-needed hug, neither of which are achieved via Wi-Fi. Having moments of spontaneous laughter and tears shed through bravely revealing one’s true self also build close bonds and cannot be replicated without face-to-face interaction. During those moments we also share information about our lives and provide and offer support to the other.
I’m not saying this is easy in any way—I am aware that this process involves taking risks, being vulnerable, and spending time (which is never easy). Nowadays, it’s difficult to call someone up and plan to meet up rather than just respond online to a status and believe we are doing our part in the relationship. However, if we do give it the time and energy it deserves, the payoff is huge.
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