Since we’re all at home, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight on building relationships. Being around the same person (or people) for extended periods of time can become exhausting, frustrating, and boring. Human nature drives us toward habituation with even our most beloved people.
Think of a woman who loves vacating to sunrises on the beach, feeling the warmth of the sand under her feet, exercising in the morning near where the waves race up the shore. With a car loaded full of overpacked suitcases, she moves to an island. The first week is a dream scented with seasalt. Her new home welcomes her with glowing, sun-kissed skin. But the second week she starts to notice the sand that somehow appears everywhere in the house. The third week, she dives head first into a new job that keeps her from hearing families laugh as they build sandcastles too close to the water. As the tides come in and out, she becomes more habituated to the island. Though she still favors the beach over other natural wonders, the emotional response has been diluted with the repetition of life.
The same principle applies to our human interactions. A budding romance convinces us love is blind. The following engagement inflates the relationship with fresh excitement. And we have all witnessed the grace-filled enthusiasm of a couple in the honeymoon phase of marriage. We’ve just as often made note of the moments we were uncomfortably made aware the phase passed.
So what can we do to combat our tendencies to lose interest?
One option is to become aware of relational bids, or efforts for connection. Bids are made unintentionally all throughout the day because of our innate desire for belonging and love. The trick is in recognizing them. We can be tempted to believe we are unwanted, overlooked, or unimportant by the people around us. Bids will remind us that we are wanted, seen, and important. They also enable us to remind others that we care for them.
So how do we do it?
Make note of the offers you are given throughout the day no matter how seemingly insignificant.
“Do you want to go on a walk with me?”
“Dinner is at six.”
“What did you do today?”
These are all attempts to connect with you. Take the invitation to belong and to show up fully. Being present and being yourself will provide opportunities for fun, for depth, for just enough of what you need to get through another day.
Then be brave and make some intentional bids.
“Can we FaceTime this week?”
“I’m making tea if you’d like some.”
“Do you remember when…”
These are all avenues for possible rejection, but they are also tokens of gratitude for the people around you. A quiet meal could turn into a night of laughter. A simple question could turn into learning something new about someone you’ve known for so long. A short walk could turn into a new direction for your habituated relationship. Maybe you don’t get a breakthrough every time you take and give a bid. But if you had a chance at a miracle, would you take it?