So much of relationship work happens online right now, and although it might feel more convenient, it’s highly limited. When we connect online, through text, email, or video chat, we miss most of the in-person cues and energy exchanges that are integral to human communication. Also, perhaps more relevantly, our in-person skills get rusty, and we begin to actively avoid live conversation.
Work against the trend. Pick up the phone instead of texting. Meet for coffee instead of on Zoom when possible. Challenge yourself to have any kind of difficult exchange live, and notice what’s different. You may feel initially more anxious, but this will become easier over time.
Grow Your Care Skills
Love takes practice! There are many skills involved, including nurturing, listening, celebrating, supporting, asking for and offering help, and more. I was shocked when I learned that a friend who was dealing with a serious illness felt imposed on by my phone calls. She’s an introvert and needed all of her energy to heal; voice mail messages stressed her out. Now, when someone I love is ill or struggling, I reach out by text or email first to ask if the person I’m supporting is up for a call or would prefer some space.
Keeping tabs on people is important. Reaching out and asking how people are makes them know you care and that relationships take initiative. Send a card or a funny cartoon on special occasions. Yes, email or texting is easier, but it doesn’t mean as much. Drop off a little gift at a friend’s house or put a paperback book or clipping in the mail. Tell your friends what you appreciate about them and what you’re grateful for. Tell them you care about them. Tell them you love them. It takes practice, and might feel cringey at first, but it gets easier.