Relationships play an instrumental role in shaping our emotional and social functioning, performance, and overall sense of fulfillment and well-being. Each stage of life prompts us to reflect on our relationships for different reasons. As we live longer, we reflect more on the quality rather than quantity of our relationships and understand the value of creating strong bonds.
Transactional Relationships vs. Strong Bonds
We interact with a myriad of people throughout our lives. Some interactions are transactional based on current needs, benefits, and convenience. These relationships often serve a specific purpose and might not last beyond a specific occasion or time frame.
On the other hand, strong bonds are mutually satisfying relationships we form with special individuals who enter our lives and leave an indelible mark on our hearts. These people might arrive at just the right time, for a significant moment, or for a substantial reason. These connections transcend the concept of a transactional relationship, offering the opportunity for a deeper connection that is based on shared values, trust, mutual respect, and an authentic interest in each other's well-being.
Cultivating Trustworthy Relationships: A Source of Connection, Belonging, and Purpose
Cultivating trustworthy relationships is essential for creating a sense of connection and belonging. These relationships offer emotional support, provide a sounding board for our dreams and fears, and help us navigate life's challenges. These deep relationships contribute to our sense of purpose, knowing that we matter to someone else and that our existence has significance.
These bonds, nurtured with time, trust, and shared experiences, provide us with a sense of belonging, security, and shared joy that is vital for our emotional health, especially as we embark on our encore after 60.
One example that comes to mind is the relationship I have with my long-time friend, K. We met during our early career days and despite our different career paths and lifestyle choices, and geographical distance, our bond has strengthened with each passing year. As we embark on our respective encores, we continue to inspire, support, and champion each other as we pursue different choices for fulfillment. Our friendship serves as a reminder of the enduring power of strong bonds based on values, trust, and empathy.
Quality Over Quantity: The Art of Discretion
As we live longer, we understand the importance of exercising discretion in sharing our personal lives and in building quality relationships. It's not about having a long list of acquaintances, but about nurturing deeper connections with a select few who truly understand and value our unique selves.
Take time to assess your relationships on a regular basis as you and your life evolves.
- What relationships do you want to develop into strong bonds to support you during intense periods of change?
- What relationships need to be put on hold temporarily or permanently?
Download your 90-Day EQ Mini-Plan to learn more about emotional and social functioning, performance, and overall sense of fulfillment and well-being. Access the worksheet to learn more about Interpersonal Relationships.
Strategies for Enhancing and Nurturing Quality Relationships
Communication: Updates on social media are convenient, but transactional. Nurture your special relationships with your personal touch. A personal text, a phone or video call, or a handwritten note will enhance your connection. My friend K., has a deep appreciation for receiving cards in the mail. The personal connection says "I am thinking of you. I care about you and our relationship".
Shared Experiences and Memories: Be it a regular lunch date, weekly walks, weekend get-togethers, or a special day-out road trip, shared experiences foster stronger bonds. There's something about the shared experience of being in the moment together that enriches relationships.
Honesty and Respect: Speak your truth, but do it with respect. The truth can be difficult to hear sometimes, but if presented with love, kindness, and respect, it will not only enhance your relationship, but also give you a sense of accomplishment. Respect each other's boundaries. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to sharing their truth and intimate details of their lives. When extended the privilege, listen attentively, show genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings, and observe healthy boundaries.
Gratitude and Grace: Appreciate the support, guidance, or help you receive from your relationships and reciprocate with grace. Acknowledge these moments and recognize how these moments add to your sense of fulfillment. When we are thankful and gracious we nurture our bonds even further.
Final Word - Your Executive Encore
Fostering relationships in our 60s, and beyond, requires an intentional shift of focus onto the quality rather than quantity of our connections. With intention and thoughtful strategies, we can cultivate strong bonds that will carry us through life’s difficult times with joy, connection, and understanding,
Fortunately, it's never too late to nurture meaningful relationships. After all, these connections will truly enrich our emotional and social functioning, performance, and overall sense of fulfillment and well-being.
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