Mask Up. Stay Home. How To Have Real Connections With People In A Socially Distant World

by | Sep 23, 2020

Advice to Combat Loneliness and Attain True Connection In Relationships

The world is experiencing loneliness like never before. We are longing for real connection with each other. We were meant to be in community, not isolated.

I think we are all a bit disoriented right now.

Human interaction that existed outside of our homes on a daily or weekly basis has all of a sudden disappeared.

I. Miss. People!

6 feet apart. No high fives. No hugging. Don’t shake hands. Wear my mask. Try to show a smile with just my eyes.

How the heck am I supposed to meet and greet someone when we’re 6 feet apart and wearing masks? I can’t even see their face!

So. Frustrating.

I’m over it.

According to Google Trends, the terms isolation and loneliness are off the charts in regards to search volume in the past 6 months.

As people created to thrive in community, the way our society currently operates is not normal.

And it’s not healthy for us mentally, spiritually, emotionally, or relationally.

We need help learning how to navigate this new way of living.

Our relationships with family and friends are very important and we need guidance so those relationships don’t grow stale and distant.

I have just the thing.

You know how sometimes in sermons or in motivational talks the speaker gives 4-5 points and has them all start with the same letter?

I’m totally stealing this method to help us remember this important info!

On that note, here are The 5 Cs of Real Connection!

I hope after you read through each of them you are motivated and encouraged to strive for true connection with those you love, despite all the restrictions we are facing.

The 5 Cs of Real Connection

  1. Communication: Talk to each other (not just text!)
  2. Compromise: Meet halfway
  3. Consistent: Keep showing up
  4. Committed: In it to win it!
  5. Compassion: Listen with love

Now we can look at each of these in greater detail and learn some great things together.

Deal? Let’s go!

1. Communication: Talk to each other (not just text!)

girl-talking-on-the-phone

If something is important enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

One way to strive for real connection in relationships is to commit to actually TALK to each other. Have a real conversation where you can hear each other’s voices and express how you’re feeling with words, rather than emojis.

True confession: it’s way easier to text than talk on the phone.

A friend of mine put it well when she said, “It’s a commitment to make a phone call, especially when you have young kids.”

I totally agree.

I’ve found that anytime I want or need to talk on the phone, that’s when Addie has 8,000 emergencies and needs me RIGHT AWAY.

If I want to have uninterrupted conversations on the phone, she needs to be in bed for the night or I need to be running errands without her.

And at this point in life, that’s not always possible.

So what to do?

I definitely think there’s a place for texting, and that’s honestly what I do throughout the day. I can still be with Addie and tend to her, but if I need to respond to someone quickly, a text is easiest.

For many busy moms and dads, it can be common practice to schedule a time to talk on the phone.

Women call these times “phone dates,” but I’m pretty sure guys don’t use that language. They’d have to turn in their man cards for that one. Lol!

Yes it can be challenging to try and schedule stuff, but usually if something’s important enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

The same is true with making phone dates.

Be willing to reschedule, talk later, or even table it for the next week.

Don’t hold it against your friend if 4 times in a row the scheduled time didn’t work.

That’s life.

But at least the effort was made.

Whether it’s a sibling you’re wanting to connect with, or a friend, the real connection will get stronger when you have authentic conversations.

If you have the privilege of being face-to-face, my advice is to put the devices away and chat free from distraction.

Take advantage of that time.

And one more thing…

Make sure in the conversation that you’re approaching it with a selfless mentality. Listen more than talk.

When the other person is talking, listen to what’s being said rather than scouring your mind to find the best way to respond.

No matter if you’re in person or on the phone, communicate with your loved one in a way that shows you care and helps to foster real connection.

2. Compromise: Meet halfway

When you’re willing to compromise and bend to someone else’s preferences, it shows that you’re putting their needs before your own.

There is give and take in all relationships, even with your kids.

When striving for real connection these days, you have to be willing to compromise and meet halfway on things.

Meeting halfway doesn’t necessarily mean a physical location that’s halfway between your houses. There are lots of areas of compromise.

Sometimes you might need to compromise on the time you’re talking, what you’re choosing to chat about, the activity you may end up doing together, the type of food you want to eat, or the length of time you’re hanging out.

Lots of small decisions to make.

And with the reality of the pandemic comes many different views and comfort levels on what hanging out should look like.

You may have a friend who has lots of Covid fears and is uncomfortable getting together in person. That’s okay.

Show her grace and find a way to compromise in a way that allows her to see that her friendship matters to you, and you’re not going to shame her for the boundaries she has set for herself and her family. Compromise.

When you’re willing to compromise, hear the other side, and bend to someone else’s preferences, it not only shows that you’re listening, it shows that you are putting their needs or feelings before your own.

That’s the sign of a mature and true friend. It also helps to obtain that real connection.

But if I never get to see my friend because she’s states away, where does compromise come into play?

Great question.

You may not have to compromise on a place to eat or a halfway location, but there are plenty of ways to consider the other person’s needs.

Here’s an example:

A friend of mine (BFFFL!) recently moved to Texas. We hung out all the time when she lived here so we had tons of face-to-face time with each other. It was awesome!

Now that we’re apart, we have to rely on Facetime, texting, and chatting on the phone.

We have done all 3 things since she’s moved…and all in the course of 2 months.

Before she left I told her that I was determined for our friendship not to be seasonal, it was too important to me.

She agreed!

Sometimes we set up a time to talk and it falls through because of kid drama or life happenings.

One of us might need to reschedule because this was the first time all day we’ve had a chance to connect with our spouse and debrief the day.

If I’m not willing to help her out by finding a different time to talk or by being okay with not chatting, then the problem lies with me and my own selfishness.

I’m caring more about getting what I want than what’s going on in my friend’s life.

Definitely not being a good friend.

True connection can happen when we are willing to compromise and lay aside our preferences for the benefit of the other person.

And this can be attained whether you’re in person or apart.

3. Consistent: Keep showing up

Being a consistent friend in someone’s life requires sacrifice.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, consistent means: marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuityfree from variation or contradiction.

I really like that phrase “steady continuity,” especially these days.

It seems like many aspects about our world right now are very unsteady and unpredictable. You never know when something’s going to change.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s with your spouse, child, friend, or co-worker, having a person you can depend on is key.

I want something tangible and consistent, a person I can depend on and know will show up and be there for me.

And if that’s something that I desire to have myself, then I should strive to be that dependable and consistent person for someone else.

So how do you strive for consistency in relationships? How can I be a more consistent friend, especially if we’re not getting together on a weekly basis?

Glad you asked!

Consistency takes effort. Repetition. Healthy habits. Selflessness. Diligence.

Being a consistent friend in someone’s life requires sacrifice.

Rather than screening that phone call so you can finish your show, push pause and answer the phone.

You’re showing consistency by being there for your friend despite your exhaustion from a long day of parenting.

Consistency requires diligence. Put stuff on your calendar if you need to. Give yourself 3 reminders on your phone so you don’t forget your Facetime call.

I don’t know about you, but I forget stuff all the time. Sometimes I’ll get a reminder on my phone and I end up forgetting the important event right after I turn off the alarm.

It’s bad.

In high school and college I used to write stuff on my hand all the time so I had a visual reminder of things I needed to do. It actually worked!

Do what works for you.

Another way to be consistent in someone’s life is to send them a text when you’re thinking of them.

Yes, I know I stated previously about talking rather than texting, but this is a different illustration. Just go with it!

I love it when I get a random text from a friend or family member who saw something that reminded them of me, and they took the time to text me. It’s the best!

Someone I love and care about was thinking of me and cared enough to let me know.

But even better than a text…snail mail.

I LOVE handwritten letters from people. They are treasures!

In fact, yesterday I received a card from a former student who just started high school. It was so great to hear from him!

Handwritten notes are a lost art in our world today. You better believe I am teaching Addie the value of writing letters. I want to instill a love for that in her little heart at a young age.

She’s learning at 6 how to be a consistent friend in someone’s life. I love it!

Consistent.

Showing up.

Always there.

Very encouraging.

Very needed.

Real connection.

4. Committed: In it to win it!

Perseverance is not for the faint of heart.

I feel like these days it’s really easy to quit when the going gets tough.

Recipe too hard? Scrap it and order takeout.

DIY garden failed? Hire someone else to do it.

New discipline strategy was a bust? Whatever. It’s not worth the tantrums. I need peace.

Bottom line: perseverance is not for the faint of heart.

And it’s hard to be committed and finish things out sometimes, especially when things get hard.

Relationships are no different.

They aren’t always easy, that’s for sure. They require a lot of effort and commitment from both parties.

But they are so worth the hard work. The payoff can be so life-giving!

If you want to establish real connection in relationships, it’s vital to stay committed.

Be in it to win it, meaning…you’re in it for the long-haul. No matter the ups and downs or curve balls life may throw at you, you’re not going anywhere!

No matter the distance between you or the lack of face-to-face interaction, you’re still there for each other.

Need an example? I got one for you.

Heather has 4 kids. She works part-time, helps at church, and has 10 loads of laundry to do every week. Her plate is full!

She has a friend from church, Kate, who’s been struggling in her marriage.

Sometimes she wants to talk at 11:00 at night because she’s so distraught and needs someone to listen after the kids have gone to bed.

Heather is exhausted after a long day of cooking, cleaning, parenting, and work.

She sits down to have a minute to herself and gets a text from Kate, “Can you talk?”

Her initial thought is to just ignore the text.

Maybe Kate will think she’s in bed. I’m sure she’ll understand. It’s really late.

Her phone buzzes again, “I had a really hard day with the kids and Brad and I had a fight. I just really need a friend right now.”

Hmmmm….

Heather decides to lay aside her down time and picks up the phone to call Kate.

They end up talking for over an hour and Heather asks if she can pray for Kate over the phone.

When the conversation is finished Kate says, “Heather, I know it’s really late, but I so appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. You’re such a good friend. I can always count on you.”

Heather goes to bed later than she had planned, but she rests a little easier knowing that she was able to be there for Kate in her time of need.

Committed.

Whether you’re needing to show commitment with your kids in one-on-one time or be committed to a long distance friend by having a weekly phone call, know that it will take effort.

But it’s possible.

Here are a couple of great quotes to keep you inspired as you strive to stay committed in your relationships.

“Without commitment, you cannot have depth in anything.” ~Neil Strauss

“The real value of setting goals is not the recognition or reward, it’s the person we become by finding the discipline, courage, and commitment to achieve them.” ~Anonymous

Keep those commitments.

Be in it to win it.

And strive to attain that real connection with people in your life.

5. Compassion: Listen with love

It’s so important to be able to meet others with compassion no matter what they’re going through.

In any relationship, you are going to have your ups and downs.

There will be epic moments of adventure, times when you laugh until you cry, and other times when there’s deep grief and sadness.

Most relationships will experience all of these.

It’s so important to be able to meet others with compassion no matter what they’re going through.

You have to listen with love, and no judgment.

What is compassion? How would I explain this to my child?

Great questions.

I feel like compassion is one of those words that can be thrown around a lot, overused, and lose its meaning.

So let’s define it.

Compassion is defined as the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Some synonyms are empathy, understanding, care, concern, sensitivity.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going through a tough time and sharing about it with a friend, I would definitely hope to be met with compassion.

When you’re walking through hardship, knowing that you have a friend or co-worker who will listen without judgment and show care and concern for your trials is huge.

It can even serve as a catalyst in moving you forward and changing your mentality on things.

In regards to explaining compassion to your child, I have some thoughts.

If you’re wanting to help your child understand compassion, you can:

  1. Read them books that teach this principle.
  2. Give them an age-appropriate example of showing compassion. Ex: In the Bible, you can read the story of the Good Samaritan.
  3.  Watch a show that illustrates compassion. VeggieTales has an episode called A Silly Little Thing Called Love which teaches about compassion and love.
  4. Take them to a food pantry and have them volunteer with you. Talk to them about why a food pantry exists and what it means to families who need this food to survive. Don’t be afraid to show them some of the realities of the world. It may lead to some great conversations with them later!
  5. Point out times where you see them showing compassion, and praise them for it!

No matter how you do it, make sure your children know what compassion is all about.

Try modeling it for them in your daily life.

Compassion is definitely a character quality that we need more of in our world right now. There is so much judgment and shaming of one another when our views or decisions are different.

We need to listen with love and be committed to walk with each other (even if from a distance) through these crazy times.

If this happens to be an area where you struggle, pray and ask God to strengthen that character quality in your heart and life.

Contrary to popular belief, compassion does not come naturally to everyone.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t grow in that area.

Regardless of our age, we can all grow in compassion and strive to show it more in our relationships in order to establish those real connections we’re looking for!

Let’s Review!

We were created to connect and are meant to be in relationships with other people, not isolated.

I know you read through each and every word and took amazing notes!

But in case you didn’t, here’s a little refresher.

We were created to connect.

Our society is wonky right now and connection is a bit more difficult.

Not impossible, but difficult.

We need help to have those real connections!

To help you strengthen your relationships, remember this…

The 5 Cs of Real Connection

  1. Communication: Talk to each other (not just text!)
  2. Compromise: Meet halfway
  3. Consistent: Keep showing up
  4. Committed: In it to win it!
  5. Compassion: Listen with love

Relationships are definitely not a walk in the park, and these 5 points are not a guarantee for happiness, joy and zero conflict.

It’s just a tool to help!

Remember, we are all works in progress.

We can’t change how the world is going right now with all the rules and regulations, but we can still pursue the people in our lives.

I wish you all the best in striving for strong connections in all of your relationships.

Remember to show yourself and your people lots of grace.

Lift each other up, pray for one another, and don’t forget to laugh along the way.

In a society that has grown distanced from one another, be the person who goes against the flow.

Fight for those strong connections!

You were created to connect.

Lots of love to each of you!

~ Lisa

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12 Comments

  1. Venaugh

    Thanks for sharing this, we’re all struggling with this distance and isolation!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I’m hoping this reality we live in right now will be short-lived.

  2. Kayslee Decker

    I think I needed to read this today. Your advice is so helpful! I didn’t realize how much I needed people, or how much I interact with other humans daily (especially in class) until that contact was taken away. This has given me some actionable steps to take to keep my relationships fresh 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad this was a timely read for you Kayslee! I miss people too. If I can’t see them physically, I have to figure out how to connect with them and keep the relationships strong.

  3. Jamie

    Love this! I need to call people more. I’m bad about just texting but hearing a voice is nice.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Jamie! Picking up the phone and calling someone is definitely harder than a text, but well worth the effort.

  4. Morgan

    I love writing physical letters! I’ve actually reconnected with some out of state relatives in some of these ways during the pandemic because if we’re gonna all be in our houses so much, we have no excuses to not catch up!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Snail mail is my favorite! So glad to hear that you enjoy writing physical letters. It’s a lost art these days. I’m trying to pass the love down to my daughter right now. =)

  5. Melisa

    You are an amazing woman, mother, and friend. I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for taking the time to still send this to me;)

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Glad you enjoyed it Melisa! Please pass along this encouragement to other people in your life who need it.

  6. Kathy Childers

    This has some very practical advice on how to establish and keep a community of friends and will work on your family too!
    Good job of inspiring me to encourage others by reaching out to one another.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for the encouragement Kathy! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

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