Have you ever just wondered, “Why are my relationships so damn unsatisfying?”
- Do you feel like your relationships lack depth? Are you less than excited to spend time with your friends?
- Do you find it easy to talk about daily events and the latest Netflix series? Yet, it’s hard to discuss deep feelings?
- Have you ever had something big happen in life, but found that you didn’t have anyone to share it with?
- Do you have anyone with whom to share your darkest, most joyful or deepest intimate thoughts? No?
Well, you’re not alone. Many people wonder why their relationships feel shallow. Luckily, you can uncover the reasons why.
Luckier still, there are things you can do to change the situation.
Fear can Keep Relationships Shallow
Does it feel like there’s a chain around your heart? In other words, do you lock others out of your feelings? This is often a reaction to underlying fear. Consider the following:
Fear of Engulfment
You might be afraid that if you let someone in they will smother you. You may fear, too, that the relationship will take over your life. Similarly, you might worry that they will need too much. In fact, it might feel like you’ll lose your goals, opportunities, even a solid sense of yourself if you open up too much.
Fear of Abandonment
On the other hand, you might fear that you’ll open up and then the other person will leave you alone. Maybe they won’t like the real you. You worry that “my relationships are too fragile” or you’re “too much”, and therefore that they won’t be able to handle it. Therefore, you keep things shallow to avoid abandonment.
Fear of Exposure and Vulnerability
Each time you attempt to go deeper in your relationships, you take a risk. Risks are scary. You may fear the vulnerability of sharing out loud,”I want my relationships to grow and deepen,” will be met with blank stares and crickets. Or worse, indifference.
Perhaps outright rejection and humiliation worry you most.
Fear of Upsetting People
Maybe you just want to make other people happy. You worry that if you go too deep, or get too serious, you’ll upset others. Many people learn this behavior in childhood. It’s a survival technique in some families. You just want to keep the peace, so you keep things on the surface.
How to Overcome Fear and Deepen Relationships
There are many good reasons that you have kept your relationships shallow. However, you are missing out on real, caring connection. You deserve to have friends who see and love all of you. There are plenty of things you can do to realize this.
Take Time to Imagine Your Ideal Relationship
You can’t find better friendships if you don’t know what you’re seeking. Take time to go deep with yourself, getting honest about what you really want in a relationship. For example, consider:
- What things do you wish you could talk about when you see friends?
- Who are you at your core? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Which fears have motivated you to keep relationships shallow?
- Whose relationship style you admire and think, “I want my relationships to look like theirs”?
- How do you want to be as a friend? What traits do you want to share with others?
Take A Small Risk with A Friend
Find the person you trust the most. Take a small risk revealing something new about yourself. You might even simply reveal that you are longing for a deeper connection with them. This admission itself is very vulnerable. Their response will let you know if you can go even deeper, or if they aren’t ready.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
How does it feel when you take that risk? Is your heart racing? Is the anxiety bearable? Are you excited? Do you feel more alive? More true to yourself?
How does it feel when you avoid the risk? Are you disappointed? Do you feel empty? Angry with yourself for the same old behavior?
Which sets of feelings do you want to have?
Be More Curious About Your Friends’ Feelings
Your friends might be feeling equally empty and crave a deeper friendship. Help them talk more about their inner life. Listen for the emotion when they speak, not just the content. Ask them how they feel when they tell you a story, what they were thinking or how they were impacted by the story. Show them that you want to know more about them.
Get Help for Past Pain
As you’ve seen, most shallow relationships are due to fear. Painful experiences from the past often caused those fears. Working through that pain helps you open up to new experiences.
Do you want to explore what might be limiting your relationships? I am willing to help you secure and strengthen deeper connections. Please check out my relationship counseling page or contact me for a free 20-minute phone consultation soon.