Are you having trouble connecting with others? If you have plenty of friends and family, but you feel a little distant from them, regardless of how often you talk or spend time together, you aren’t alone. It’s surprisingly common for people in the 21st century to feel lonely even when surrounded by other people.

Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean you’re destined to feel sad and alone! There are things you can do to connect more deeply with the people in your life.

Be Open About Things That Cause You Emotional Distress

Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes things happen that cause us emotional distress. Whether you’re dealing with emotional distress caused by a doctor, you have ended a relationship, you lost your job, or you’re sleep deprived while dealing with a newborn, it’s normal to keep your true feelings inside. After all, you don’t want friends and family members to think you’re a complainer!

You definitely don’t want to spend every moment of a conversation with a friend or family member complaining about the things in your life, but it is important to talk about things in your life that you find difficult. Not only does it give your loved ones a chance to support you, it also shows them that you’re willing to be vulnerable, which will encourage them to be more open with you as well.

Schedule Quality Time Together

Life gets busy. It’s easy to spend all day at work, and then half the evening picking up and toting kids around to activities with only enough time in the evening to eat, bathe, and go to bed, only to do it all over again tomorrow.

Maybe you have the opposite problem! You seem to spend a lot of time with your friends and family, but most of that time is spent scrolling through social media or watching TV.

The amount of time you spend with your loved ones doesn’t really matter as long as you spend quality time together like:

  • Go to the gym together
  • Spend time together in the kitchen
  • Schedule date nights
  • Do something the two of you haven’t ever done before

Make time to spend quality time with the ones you love, whether that means scheduling a weekly date night with your partner or you plan lunch together with an old friend once a month.

Learn How to Be a Better Listener

Connecting on a deeper level with your friends and family means finding ways that they can be there for you, but it also means doing things to be there for them too. You have to be able to show them that you really care about what’s happening in their life, which means working on becoming a better listener.

One of the best ways to do that is to plan to ask at least one question as you’re listening. When you know you need to ask a question, you’re likely to listen more deeply. Not to mention, the other person will feel like you’re really listening because you ask them about something they said instead of going right into a personal story, which just makes it seem like you’re making the conversation about you.

Cue into Your Body Language

Have you ever talked to someone and didn’t really feel like they cared about what you had to say, but you couldn’t really put your finger on it? Chances are, they didn’t say the wrong things, but they were giving you cues that you picked up on unconsciously.

From speaking to someone when their arms are folded to yawning, fidgeting, and staring off into the distance, there is a lot of body language that can send the message that you don’t care. Instead, focus on smiling, making eye contact, and leaning towards the person you’re speaking with to feel a deeper connection.

Be Open About Your Boundaries

Personal boundaries are few and far between for many, but letting people walk all over you can make you feel bitter and angry with the people you want to connect with.

You could also have the opposite problem. If your boundaries are too rigid, you may find that you distance yourself to avoid rejection and you refuse to ask for help. Instead, be open about your boundaries and allow your friends and family to show they care by adhering to those boundaries.

Have a friend who always calls when you prefer a text? Tell them! Wish a family member wouldn’t drop by without letting you know? Ask them to call first! Hate being the one to come up with things to do? Say so! When you communicate your boundaries, or you talk about your struggle to create healthy boundaries for yourself, you give the people in your life the opportunity to show you they care the way you want.

Be Authentically You

We’ve all tried to be a slightly different version of ourselves to impress certain people while in school, but if you’re still doing it as an adult, you’re going to feel disconnected because the person your friends and family are connecting with isn’t really you.

Be authentically you, and chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how accepted you are. Don’t fake interest in a movie a friend wants to go and see, share pictures with friends and family without filters, and do other things that come naturally to you and make you feel good.

It’s even better if you share with friends and family that you’re trying to be authentic, as it can spark a conversation about what your loved ones think of you and how you would like to change.

Just because you have friends and family doesn’t mean you feel like you have meaningful relationships with them. If you’re feeling a little distant and disconnected, don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to dump family members and get new friends! Try connecting more deeply with them in new ways and you’ll find they are there for you in ways that make you feel loved and valued.