What does it mean to emotionally connect, and how do you know you are emotionally connecting?
There are many books, methods and advice on what emotional connection is about.
Some people think emotional connection is a form of active listening — it is, but it’s a lot more than “listening”.
Others think it’s sharing of feelings — and it is, but it is more than just sharing how each person feels.
Empathetic-listening, sharing feelings, emotional support and affirming the other persons feelings are all part of emotional connection. But are not all by themselves emotional connection.
Emotional connection, at least in my opinion, is when two or more people feel the same emotion at the same time. If one person is sharing an emotion and the other is actively listening but not feeling the same emotions, that is not emotionally connecting. That is ‘good listening”.
For emotional connection to happen, the emotion must be felt together, with each other at the same time.
I give this example all the time. You and a friend are talking about a restaurant you went to. You’re talking about YOUR experience and your friend relates a story about THEIR similar experience in the same restaurant or a different one. On the surface this may look like emotional connection because you are both talking about the same subject and sharing your experiences with each other, but this is NOT emotional connection. What you are doing is sharing information/experiences.
It’s like two people going the same direction, but walking on two parallel lanes. You may get to the destination but your experience of the journey there will not be the same.
Emotional connection is when you get into your friends experience and experience what they experienced as they relate their experience in real time. If they say they were happy, you feel their happiness. If they say they were disappointed, you feel their disappointment. If they say something funny, you get the joke. You feel what s/he is feeling, right there at the same time. That IS emotional connection.
The most interesting thing about emotional connection is that we know it when we FEEL it. It’s not a thought, a guess or some intellectual pursuit, it’s a feeling of one-ness.
You may even not agree on something, but you feel heard, listened to and understood at a deeper level (emotional level).
The emotion doesn’t have to be what we call “positive” emotion. You can connect on sadness or on anger just as you can connect on joy or excitement. What makes it an emotional connection is that at that point in time, you feel the other’s emotion.
Of course connection desired emotions like joy or excitement feels a lot better than connecting on sadness or on anger. And if you are trying to get your ex back, you’d do yourself well to try to connect on emotions that make both of you feel good.
So if you are learning or doing “active listening”, sharing your feelings, affirming or acknowledging your ex’s feelings and being emotionally supportive, try to go further into emotionally connecting.
You can do this on just about any subject, music, food, work, family, pets, politics… anything.
You know you are connecting when:
- Your ex is actively interested (excited) in whatever it is you are talking about (you feel that they are present with you).
- He or she is emotionally engaged both in sustaining the conversation and follow-ups (e.g. asking more questions, sharing links or initiating more things to talk about).
- You do not stress over what to “talk about” because you and your ex can talk about a range of topics and still not feel like you have had ‘enough’ of each other.
- You are not worried about coming across as needy (or contacting your ex too much) because you know he or she wants to talk to you, and looks forward to talking to you.
- Contact is regular and gaining momentum.
- Conversations flow naturally (you don’t feel like you are pulling teeth or walking on egg-shells).
- You feel genuinely understood, listened to and heard, and your ex feels the same.
- Your conversations involve a range of emotions shared together. Sometimes they are serious, other times they are laid back. Sometimes you talk about your day and other times you are joking, teasing and laughing together. Sometimes you agree and sometimes you respectfully agree to disagree etc.
- You are the first person your ex thinks of contacting when they feel happy or when they feel sad (because they know that you will feel exactly how they feel).
- You feel like you “get” each other , and sometimes words are not necessary (because you feel what the other feels).
You probably experienced this level of connection in the beginning of the relationship and during the relationship. You can experience it again if you are responding (and present) and not just reacting to your own emotions, not so focused on an agenda or outcome, or thinking only about what’s in it for you.
You will find this article useful: What Questions Should I Ask My Ex?