The Feeling of Connection

I am very interested in the subjective experience of connection with another person. Specifically, in the ongoing flow of interaction between two people, there are moments of intense connection based only in a minor way on the words. What is interesting is that sometimes one person feels this connection and the other person does not. Other times, they both feel it. The perception of connection is a deeply gratifying relationship experience that responds to an innate motive. People are born to relate, and the feeling of connection is what feels right.

Some therapists see this connection as a type of entrainment based on an empathic attunement that the therapist and patient co-create. As two people with distinct and different motives come to know each other, they develop a kind of agreement about how they are going to be together, and this feeling of joint harmony is the feeling of connection, according to this view. 

There are many ways to describe a connection, but ultimately it is a feeling/experience that cannot be explained, demonstrated, or proven. If you are in a relationship and you feel the connection is active, it is reassuring and satisfying. If you feel it is not there, or that the two of you are temporarily or permanently disconnected, it is unsettling and anxiety provoking.

What sometimes happens is that one person believes the connection is missing or attenuated and the other person thinks everything is just fine. At such a moment, the important point is whether the dissatisfied person agitates to improve the connection or turns away from the relationship or gives up. It is difficult to know about problems, and it can feel easier to accept the status quo, even if it is distant, than to create conflict and unhappiness by agitating for better connectedness.

Not every relationship can constructively contain this kind of agitation for connection. And not every dissatisfied person has the courage to agitate.Two of the deep gains of a therapeutic journey are, first,  a deepening safety within the relationship, which allows for agitation, and second, at the same time a stronger desire for a genuine, active connection, which promotes dissatisfaction with suboptimal relating.

Sometimes a person is subtly dissatisfied or unhappy, but cannot quite explain why. Ultimately we end up blaming ourselves for wanting too much from other people. But there is absolutely the possibility of a true intimacy where each person can be a whole, complete, separate person and at the same time deeply involved and connected with someone else. Yes, it is possible.

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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