I am fascinated by the similarities, and differences, of romantic and platonic relationships. This Valentines Day, I thought it would be fun to inspire our friendships a bit by interviewing a professional Matchmaker to see how we can improve all our relationships.
Joy Nordenstrom is the Founder of Joy of Romance, Inc. and Chemistry of Connection. She’s a relationship coach, certified matchmaker, love story preservationist and romantic event planner.
Shasta: We often treat romantic and platonic relationships as filling two different needs, but in some ways they can speak to the same human need, right?
Joy: Yes, all relationships speak to our need to belong.
Positive Psychologist Christopher Peterson’s research found having healthy relationships with family, friends, and coworkers turns out to be the strongest predictor of happiness, and often health, in most studies on human wellbeing. In a study detailed in an article titled “To Belong is to Matter: Sense of Belonging Enhances Meaning in Life,” the authors found:
“... correlational, longitudinal, and experimental evidence that a sense of belonging predicts how meaningful life is perceived to be.”
So in short, to belong equates in our mind to having meaning in life: If I matter to others, my life matters.
That sense of belonging can be found both in our intimate partnership and in our purely friendship driven relationships.
We've been studying and prioritizing romantic relationships for longer than friendships so I am always fascinated by the idea of what we can learn from those relationships that might be helpful to our friendships.
Anything that jumps out to you about how we attract others?
Absolutely. Whether it's for romance or friendship, we still have to attract each other and connect. So when I work with my single clients to help them get ready for finding a partner, there is an exercise I have created to help them get into the right mental and emotional mindset to exude an air of self-confidence, positivity and receptivity.
It is inspired by my favorite quote:
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
Taking action in the direction of what pushes you a little, or a lot, out of your comfort zone helps create in your brain a chemistry similar to being in lust or the early stages of falling in love.
With the Scary Things’ Exercise, I ask an individual to work with the process for a minimum of 21 days in a row, in order to begin establishing a habit. The essence of the exercise is to be mindful and challenge yourself to do something a little out of your comfort zone every day.
All that we know about facial gestures and body language combined with neurosciences, shows us that what’s happening in our minds is being broadcast to others through our face and body. Once someone looks at us our spindle cells and mirror neurons wire us to connect and for them to “feel” to some extent what is internally happening for us.
Note that as humans, we gravitate towards individuals who are fascinating, curious and have a zest for life. In short, whether for romance or friendship, we want to be in relationships with those who are interesting and happy.
Love that! That philosophy of staying engaged with life so that we're "more interesting and more interested in others" leads to a mindset that opens us to more connection.
And then, when we're with someone we are open to connecting with, what is one behavior we can be mindful to practice that can help our interaction?
Well, one easy tip is to know the impact of left eye gazing because our success in bonding resides in our ability to put others at ease.
You mean looking at their left eye?
Well if you gaze from right eye to right eye, it activates the left side of the brain, the side that analyzes, picks things apart, and looks for ways to get something out of the person or situation. Your facial expressions harden and become more intense. I call this the used car salesman gaze. Subconsciously, it makes the other person uncomfortable. This may be good as a tactic for hardcore negotiation but not for the art of connecting.
But when you engage in a gaze with someone utilizing your left eye you are tapping into the right side of your brain allowing you to access your full emotive self. With a left eye to left eye gaze, your mind will concentrate on where there is synergy and how you can work together. By gradually turning your face to the right, even by 5-10 percent, your left eye becomes more dominant. When you gaze at someone with your left eye, the corners of your mouth and the wrinkles around your eyes soften making the person you are looking at feel more at ease.
Again, the more someone is at ease, the easier it is for two people to feel safe, accepted, and be receptive to bonding.
Joy, thank you for sharing this wisdom about how we can attract others by paying attention to our own growth and exploration and connect with others by something as simple as left eye gazing.
May we all continue to pursue our human need of belonging in the healthiest and most intentional ways possible!