Insights: Are You Connected

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Are you connected?

Did this make you think of social media, or did you think about being connected in your relationships?

It is sad to realize that people spend more time connecting via some form of social media than in person. There is a considerable difference between these two forms of connecting. It has become a normalcy to connect this way. Social media has allowed us to have many more acquaintances and see what is happening in other’s lives, but it also causes great stress by allowing us to believe in the fantasy of other people’s supposed realities that are posted. Yet none of this really allows for genuine, in-person connections.

Being connected, being vulnerable with another, is truly the definition of being human.  It is what we live for, and that is why it is so painful when there is a tearing apart, a death or end of a relationship.

When we have a lack of connection, it adversely affects our health from lowering our immune system and increasing our blood pressure to decreasing our ability to manage stress.

It is also easy to confuse desire as intimacy. I often hear people say they have met their soul mate, where in reality they are feeling desire, which is the longing to be with someone. Desire triggers chemicals in our brain that make us feel like we are in love, where in reality it is just desire.

In an authentic relationship we have little of this longing and more of a feeling of connectedness, contentment, safety, and security.

Being connected means we are aware of the people we love in our life, spending our time making sure we see them, understand them and hear them. Everything that we do we filter through how this will impact these people and these relationships, and then respond accordingly.

Recent studies show that when people experience trauma, the trauma has immensely less impact emotionally on that person if they have someone who truly can support them through that experience.

Let’s explore this idea of what authentic relationships really look like.

First of all, they take time to develop, so when someone tells me they have met the love of their life after two dates, I am pretty skeptical. They may very well be soul mates, but this will take time to determine.

One of my favorite movies about this topic is “The Mirror Has Two Faces” with Barbara Streisand. It is an old movie but addresses what relationships are truly about as Barbara and her on-screen boyfriend try to find out what it means to have a genuine relationship.

I find many people believe they are looking for intimacy, but really are afraid of its vulnerability so they look more for just someone to have fun with to stop the feeling of social isolation. Or, they find excuses to avoid a relationship by looking for perfectionism. I don’t know about you, but I’m far from perfect and therefore do not expect anyone I date to be perfect either.

We are all aware of how high our divorce rate is in the United States. Part of this reason is that we are not taught how to hold such relationships long term.

Our lives have become so overloaded and over-stimulated that we do not invest the necessary time to feed our relationships.

Intimacy means we have to invest the time needed to be known by another and to get to know them. We must hold intimacy dearly and closely to our hearts and make sure we feed it daily no matter how busy our lives are. This is what I like to call truly being human.

As American author and psychotherapist Amy Bloom said, “All intimacy is rare… that’s what makes it precious. And it involves the revelation of one’s self and the loving gaze upon another’s true self (no makeup, no fancy car, no defensive charm, no seduction), that’s what makes it so damn hard. Intimacy requires honesty and kindness in almost equal measure (a little more kindness, I think), trust and trustworthiness, forgiveness and the capacity to be forgiven…  It’s more than worth it.”

Yes, it is more than worth it, and it takes an investment that is larger than any dollar amount.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].



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