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Making and Keeping Connections

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Humans are social beings; we crave connections on many levels - familial, friendship and romantic. It makes us feel good to have people who understand us in our lives; someone who gets our jokes, someone who's happy to see us, or someone we can turn to when we're stressed out/going through a rough time. For some of us, making connections is not that easy, and for others, keeping up our relationships often falls by the wayside in due to the busyness of our lives. Studies show however, that making and maintaining connections creates happiness, improved health (loneliness can lead to high blood-pressure), and a longer life. Having close connections with people enriches our lives on so many levels.

How Close are Your Connections?
Connections happen through things like emotional support, concrete help (like picking someone up from the airport), sharing advice, and validation/understanding.
Ask yourself the following to determine if the support system around you is as strong as you'd like it to be - do you have at least a few people whom:
1. You can trust to tell anything to
2. You feel you can really be yourself around
3. You can turn to for help and to help you solve problems
4. Have concern for you and take your concerns seriously

If you find you don't have these types of close connections, then it's up to you to go out and find them. It may seem daunting, especially if you're on the shy side, to go out and meet new people.
However, the benefits of having close relationships far outweigh the momentary discomfort of making new friends and meeting potential mates.

Making New Connections
1. Put yourself in situations where you can meet new people/potential mates. A club, sports team, or speed dating are great venues in which to meet people.
2. Remember that making connections is all about communication. Don't wait for others to come to you - chances are they might be shy too. 99% of people will greet a friendly person with a friendly response. If they don't - they're not meant to be your friend.
3. People respond to sincerity. If you are genuinely interested in what someone has to say, a connection will be that much easier to make.
4. Stay positive - people like to be around those who make them feel good, and feel good about themselves.

Maintaining Your Connections
Like anything worth its salt in life, keeping our relationships going takes some effort and dedication on both sides.
1. Who is important to you in your life? Make a list of the people you'd like to strengthen your relationship with - make a point to reach out to them on a regular basis.
2. Communicate with these people about how important they are to you, and how much they mean to you. Everyone likes and needs to hear this from time to time.
3. If you have a problem or disagreement with someone, bring it out into the open. Too often friendships deteriorate from lack of communication. Remember that no one can read your mind; it's up to you to express yourself.
4. Remove yourself from relationships that don't make you feel good about yourself, or ones that are one-sided. Make sure you are receiving support as well as giving it.



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