Studies from the last few years have warned people about an epidemic of loneliness in the United States. A lack of connection can have many devastating effects, such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia for older adults. The solution is simple: build more intentional relationships. 

With any good thing in life, intentional relationships take time. If you water them, then they will grow. Here are five ways to develop more intentional relationships.

Build a Healthy Relationship With Yourself

The work you do to better yourself, such as healing old wounds and facing childhood trauma, will increase your ability to have strong and meaningful relationships. The more you learn to love and care for yourself, then the better you will be able to discern healthy relationships that will do the same. 

Listen More Than You Speak

As the saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Learn to ask questions and listen. When you are curious and take an interest in other people, you set yourself up to have intentional conversations. Listening shows that you care and allows for the other person to share how they feel or think. 

Focus on Your Needs and the Needs of Others

People with anxious attachments focus on the needs of others. People with avoidant attachment styles tend to focus on themselves. However, people with secure attachments strike the perfect balance of knowing how to pour out their love and give to others, while also caring for their own needs.

Lead With Vulnerability

One of the best ways to build friendships with depth is to go beyond the surface. Sharing the truest version of yourself. Be honest. Be genuine. Although it may be scary and not easy at first, deeply rooted friendships require a willingness to dig.

Be Actively Engaged

Being present is essential to building long-lasting and intentional friendships. Focus on the friend in front of you, who they are, what season of life they are in and what they are sharing with you at this moment. You can still embrace your friend’s potential, while accepting them for who they are right now.