6 tips for making emotionally intelligent friendships

6 tips for making emotionally intelligent friendships

If there’s one thing that will boost and maintain health and happiness it’s probably friendships.

Happy people have both more and better quality relationships.

It follows, therefore, that to create more happiness and wellbeing creating more quality friendships is key. And here’s how…

via Eric Barker

We all want good, close friends. Problem is, while high school sure had gym class, it didn’t have “Emotional Intelligence 101.”

So what part of emotional intelligence is critical for friendships? Emotional intimacy.

From Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship:

Sociologist Ray Pahl states that friendships today are based primarily on trust and emotional intimacy.

So what is emotional intimacy?

From Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship:

Emotional intimacy is the experience of being deeply connected to another person who knows and understands your most important feelings and who shares his or her own with you.

Yeah, that sounds nice but it’s still at Hallmark Card levels of pleasant vagueness. So we can probably recognize the concept better by looking at its opposite.

From Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship:

If there were a label for this problem in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it might read something like “Emotional Intimacy Deficiency—a problem characterized by a sense of shallowness in one’s relationships with others, associated with a failure to recognize or express feelings, to reveal personal details about oneself, to be vulnerable or let anyone help you, to comfortably share attention or let go of control, and to listen without having to solve a problem.”

This won’t shock you at all, but research shows men are far worse at this than women. Both sexes can certainly struggle, but this is a department where men really lag behind.

And that causes a lot of problems for men. Serious problems. Not just unfulfilling relationships — it’s more akin to a chronic emotional illness that affects every area of life.

From Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship:

(Men who lack emotional intimacy) take longer to recover from minor illnesses, have lower resistance levels, and have reduced survival times when diagnosed with terminal illness. They are 50 percent more likely to have a first-time heart attack, and twice as likely to die from it, than men with strong social ties. When depressed, these men have significantly lower rates of recovery than those who have close relationships… Wives who cite their husband’s “emotional unavailability” as the primary cause of divorce initiate two out of every three divorces today. At the far end of the life cycle, older men without close relationships have 20 percent lower ten-year survival rates compared with those who do.

That said, women’s friendships aren’t perfect either. We’re going to dive into the research and see the most common ways both sexes struggle with friendship, what they can do about it, and how they can learn from each other to improve.

So how do you increase emotional intimacy and build emotionally intelligent friendships? It comes down to six steps. Let’s get to it…

1) “Know Thyself”

The thing everybody skips. Knowing yourself means you know what you want and need, and this is critical for both picking new friends and strengthening existing relationships.

How many friends would you optimally have? What level of closeness do you need? How frequently do you want to communicate? You want to ask yourself, “What features of a friendship will be most fulfilling to me in the long run?”

Research shows this is critical for women. We live in a world largely run by men, so women know they need close friendships to provide the things their often male-dominated-environments don’t give them.

From Buddy System:

By forming relationships with a group of women, women escape having their relationships defined by men’s way of interacting. By defining relationships for themselves, women are able to construct them in a way that is more consistent with their own beliefs.

So take some time to think about what you want and need. (No, that 2 seconds between sentences doesn’t count. Really sit down and take a half hour and think. And write stuff down.)

If you just rely on serendipity to bring you friendships and to move them forward, well, that’s what got you where you are now. Time to be a little more deliberate.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my new book here.)

So before we go to work on developing emotional intimacy, let’s find out what’s been getting in the way of it. In the modern world, what’s the biggest obstacle to adult friendships?

…keep reading the full & original article HERE