What Is a Deeper Relationship?

As I’ve been reading through recent feedback emails regarding the upcoming Guild course, I’ve seen various expressions of a desire for “deeper relationships.” What does that actually mean?

Many people shared that their current social circle feels too fragmented. They have their work associates, their family relationships, their online friends, and perhaps a few other networks like for hobbies or fitness. That by itself isn’t a problem, but what people perceive as problematic is that they’re only able to connect with each of these groups with a few limited aspects of their personalities and interests. They feel blocked from expressing their whole and complete selves with anyone.

A related desire that many people expressed was for more “growth-oriented friends.” One of the most common words I saw in people’s emails was the word “like-minded.” People crave social circles with others who have similar values and interests. They’re tired of investing in relationships with people who seem too dissimilar.

I’d say that many people are looking for what we might call full-range friendships. They find it tiresome and draining to have a wide array of relatively shallow connections. I think much of the time when people say they want more depth, what they actually want is more range within the people that they connect with most often. People are tired of investing in low-compatibility connections. They want to see much higher compatibility across multiple interests.

One thing that a lot of people want is a close-knit circle of friends, and within that friendship circle, they want to see a really good range of like-mindedness. Many people prefer not to have so much fragmentation in their social lives. They don’t want activity partners and professional colleagues and romantic connections and mastermind partners and travel buddies and online friends who are all different people. They’d ideally love to invest in people with whom they can connect with across multiple dimensions – like a travel buddy who’s also great at creative and business masterminding and who’s into having rich spiritual discussions and who can go out for a nice vegan meal and a movie together.

Some people would also prefer if their social circles served as a source of romantic and sexual connections too, either directly with one or more of their friends or by finding good matches through their friends’ referrals.

So people want their social circles to provide more value to them, and they especially want to see more value and engagement per person.

Some people said the ideal size of their primary social circles was relatively small, typically in the range of 6-10 people. Some also want to see a nice gender balance in their friendships, especially if their current social circles feel imbalanced.

Most people don’t really want large social circles. Some lamented that their social circles already feel too big and complex, and they have a hard time keeping up with everyone. Others shared that they have no meaningful social circle to speak of yet, and they don’t want to shift towards something huge and expansive. They’d simply love to have a tight-knit group of friends that they can connect with regularly.

Another factor I saw expressed was what someone described as outreach fatigue or coordination fatigue. Some people serve as the main hubs of their social circles, and if they don’t keep actively inviting people and planning activities, nothing happens. This becomes exhausting after a while. Many people would prefer to have more resilient, self-maintaining social circles. People also want the option to socially engage sometimes and disengage at other times, so they can enjoy some solo time as well when they need it.

So when people say that they want deeper relationships, it’s a whole package of desires. The specifics are different for each person, but there does seem to be a common core of people wanting high-efficiency, full-range relationships. This is better for people’s energy. It’s better for their happiness. And it’s better for fitting into people’s busy lives.

This makes a lot of sense to me, and it aligns nicely with my own social development path. The social expansiveness that came from blogging and speaking has been rewarding, but it can be tiring to keep up with so many casual connections if I overdo it. This made me want to compact my social circle, both online and offline, and spend more time connecting with people who have a lot in common. And I can tell you that this works very well. It’s more relaxing, peaceful, and chill, and it feels more heart-aligned too. That said, I still enjoy phases of meeting and connecting with a lot of different people, but I see that more as the frosting on top of the cake.

The good news is that if a close-knit group of friends is what you want, you can create that, and we’ll be working on this together in the upcoming Guild course. However, it should be obvious that if you’re not there yet, you’ll need to start making different decisions socially.

I’d say that a good place to start is to reflect upon what it means to have deeper relationships with people. What does that actually mean? Is depth really the best word to describe what you want, or are you really looking for more compatibility or more range or more efficiency or more resilience in your individual relationships? I can help you get more clarity about this during the course, but I encourage you to start thinking about this now. What kind of social circle would you love to experience as your personal friendship guild?

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site stevepavlina.com and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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