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‘The Pursuit’ Blog

A Three-Minute Guide to Stronger Relationships

If you feel it’s harder to develop and maintain friendships in today’s world, it’s because it is.

This has always been true for adults. Think about it – when you’re younger, you build friendships mostly based on proximity. You spend each day with your classmates, making it easy to stay close and connected. You’re also going through a time in your life when you’re looking for a sense of identity apart from your family of origin, and many of us can find that sense of independence through friendships and relationships.

However, things change as you grow into adulthood. You take on new responsibilities, such as a full-time job and all the logistical tasks of managing your own life. You may get married and start having children. You may see your neighbors on occasion when you’re checking the mail or walking your dog, and you might engage in small talk with coworkers on the way into the office as you make your way to your desk. Still, you likely don’t prioritize friendships and community in the same way that you did when you were younger. 

To top this all off, we live in a world where it’s become easy to replace true face-to-face relationships with virtual followers and likes over the last several years. We can quickly become susceptible to the false narrative that online connections are as good as face-to-face connections. It hasn’t been long since we found ourselves amid a pandemic and had no other choice but to physically distance ourselves from each other. 

We must not forget that we were made to live in a community. We need to remember that meaningful relationships, in addition to being a critical component of our overall well-being, are a tremendous sense of joy. We may subconsciously gravitate toward isolation because it requires less effort (and because it prevents us from having to make ourselves vulnerable, which isn’t a strong suit for most of us). However, we pay a significant long-term price in exchange for the preservation of our short-term comfort. 

Here are a few steps that you can take to prioritize the growth and development of your relationships:

  • Schedule time with others. Some people may balk at this idea because it makes connections feel overly structured or forced. On the contrary, I think it represents a high level of proactivity and a desire for connection to actually happen.
  • Develop curiosity about other people. One of the best ways I’ve found to get people talking is to ask questions. People enjoy talking about themselves, and you can learn a lot about somebody by simply listening to what they have to say. 
  • Be fully present. One of the most effective ways to ensure you are engaged with the people around you is to turn off your phone (or even leave it at home or in the car) when you go to spend time with others. Don’t worry – any notifications you miss will still show up when you check it later!

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus from Matthew 22:37-39: “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

In other words, Jesus teaches us that loving others should be a top priority alongside loving God. I challenge you to spend time this week thinking about how your perspective on spending time with others might shift if you viewed it as an avenue to express (and deepen) your love for God.