How to Build Deep Emotional Connection

yin yang sign

This world desperately needs men and women who can build an emotional connection.

Without generalizing, this is a world with an oversupply of people who scream “me, me, me”, people who crave to be heard, to be rewarded, to be “popular”.
These entitled folks do not know how to connect with others.

This leaves millions who are starved for a human connection. And provides you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

IF you learn how to bond and connect.
Which is what you are going to do here.

how to build emotional connection

Developing Emotional Connection

Here’s, step-by-step, how you develop a deep emotional connection with someone:

#1. Make People Comfortable to Open Up

A study by Arthur Aron showed that asking and sharing intimate stories made people feel closer and more connected.

And the best way to encourage people to share personal stories and drop the mask, is to make them feel comfortable to talk.

Makes sense, right?

But how do you do it?

Here is how you draw people out:

  1. Ask personal and/or deep questions as if it were the most normal thing in the world
  2. Listen without judging, nod and make them feel understood
  3. Share back your own story, similar or showing similar attitudes and/or results and feelings
  4. Rinse and repeat

That simple.
Of course, the process takes some social skills and emotional dexterity to execute well.
But you can learn it.

If They Don’t Want to Open Up

In a few cases people might be uncomfortable with deep questions.

That’s OK, you might have gone too far, they might be very uptight or it’s too soon and they don’t trust you enough just yet.

If they push back, this is what you do then:

  1. Stay nonplussed saying they’re very normal questions (you hold your frame that “it’s normal, all is fine”)
  2. Answer the question yourself first  to show there’s nothing wrong with the topic

If still they dig their heels, which is very rare, this might be the case that you are not comfortable yourself yet, or you are not projecting an aura of sincerity (read chapter below).
If that’s the case, not all is lost yet. Step back to “safer” chit chat and go deeper again later on.

woman with hand up

Internalize That Going Deep is Normal

To execute this part correctly, you have to believe in your core that asking deep questions is normal.

Asking and sharing deep topics is the only way with which you are truly getting to know people.
And the only way you can build deep emotional connections.
All else is a waste of air.

Whenever someone pushes back on me, I usually reply:

What else should we be talking about, the weather outside?
This is how people get to know each, this is what matters to people.

And that’s how I usually hold the frame of reference and acquire social power.

Example: How Emotional Connection Looks Like

This is an example of a deep conversation with two people both trusting each other.

This is how a healthy deep connection looks like at the beginning of a love story:

I bet they are both mind-blown by the level of emotionally deep conversation they are having.
Both thinking “my God, I’ve never opened up so much with anyone else”. And they both feel a “special connection”.

#2. Be Empathic and Non-Judgmental

See the deep back and forth in the example above?

That only happens when there is a lot of rapport and people trust each other.
This, in turn, only happens when people feel free of judgment and accepted for who they are.

#3. Alternate Depth and Humor

These days, everyone says you should move beyond chit chat and small talk. And that’s true.

However the mistake that many do -and that certainly I was doing- is that of going deep… And then staying there for too long.

There are two issues with staying too deep too long:

  1. It can feel invasive: Too deep and too personal without a respite, it can feel potentially invasive. This is especially an issue for those who forget to share about themselves
  2. It can feel suffocating: if you stay too deep, too long, you risk that at a certain point it will feel “too much”. Too serious, too dark, or too grave. People also want to have fun.

What will happen eventually is that the conversation will sputter, the spell will break and neither of you will know how to save it.

You both will simply know that you had some magic for a while… But now it’s gone.

The solution?

Alternate!

Imagine your conversation is like a freediving experience. Sometimes you must come up for air again before going deep again.

Alternatively, you can go deep without ever getting “serious”, but keeping humor whole throughout.
Just like in Before Sunrise:

They share very personal stories about themselves and “who they are”, but they do so in a very light and fun-loving fashion.

The Early Emotional Wall: A Great Technique

Notice what happens at 2:09.

There Ethan first stops short of telling everything about his private life.
He (pretends?) to be a bit too shy to talk about it.

This is a great, great technique.
If he had said everything right away, he would have come across as if he was open to everyone.

If instead he refuses to say everything early on but does open up later, he communicates he has standards and only opens up to a selected few.
That makes him a high-quality man while at the same complimenting her.

I also use this technique often.
For example, I refuse to tell my age to women I have just met. And I always refuse to give a straight answer to the omnipresent question if “I have ever dated a girl from her country”.

#3. Let Them Speak, Don’t Fix Them

When they’re about to open up, that’s when you must hold your horses.

Don’t talk about yourself just yet, don’t interrupt and, God forbid, don’t try to fix them.

Before going into details, look at this video first.
What do you notice?

Did you notice her fear is fully irrational, and makes no sense?
Notice how Ethan Hawke does the opposite of what most men would do. Such as:

  1. Injecting “rationality”

He doesn’t say something stupid, like “planes are safer”.

Oh yes, Sherlock, are they? Really?

Talking about fears, people don’t want to be told “the truth” or what’s “rational”.
They want to be understood, and they want to feel accepted.
The “truth” doesn’t matter.

  1. Fixing it

Also notice he doesn’t try to fix either her or her situation.

He doesn’t say how she can overcome the fear of death and flying, or that she could drive.
Or, even worse, that “he believes in her and yes, she can do it”.

Notice instead how he is the epitome of full acceptance.
He just says:

I bet

Awesome.
That’s the kind of man she feels like she can say anything to without being judged (and of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome).

  1. Using Vulnerabilities to Look Cool

Last but not least, some men exploit vulnerability as their occasion to look cooler and do some alpha male posturing.

Fixing it, injecting rationality, or looking cool by contrast, are common ways with which men destroy any true bonding.
For example, they might say:

Doofus: Ehehe OK. I love planes instead. The more the turbulence, the more I sleep.
I’m not afraid of death anyway…

How is she supposed to feel after someone exploits her vulnerability to parades his “superiority”?
That’s a form of social climbing, and she won’t open up again any time soon.

#4. Let the Bond Develop Naturally

Trying to force the connection is a common mistake.

Bootman says that to make people fall in love, you have to repeat “me too” as often as possible and as quickly as possible.
Well, I disagree.
I think that’s utter nonsense. Forcing a connection early almost always will link you to superficial elements of the personality.
Just imagine the following:

You: Maybe we can get an ice cream, what do you think. I love their pistachio ice cream
Her: Me too, I love pistachio!
You: Especially pistachio ice cream with a cone, cones are awesome
Her: Me too, I love cones!

Can you think of a more childlike way of connecting with someone?
Instead, you want to give time to people to come out of their shells and then connect. Then it will be a deep connection.

The following sentence is also a common mistake people make in trying to force a connection:

I know how you feel

It’s annoying for people to hear and it can spectacularly backfire when you haven’t taken the time to really understand them.
See here an example:

https://youtu.be/G_9aawHCF0Y?t=231s

He jumps in early with “I know how you feel” and builds his own castle on completely wrong foundations.
That will dispel any doubt in her that there might be any connection at all between them.

And it’s not just me.
Relationship researcher John Gottman says you don’t get any brownie points for “guessing their feelings right” and you should stop any mind-reading efforts. They’ll be grateful you give them the time to do so themselves.

#5. Joke and Laugh Together

Did you think connecting emotionally was all about “deep talk” and sharing childhood trauma?

Absolutely not!

The art of charm says you shouldn’t use humor to emotionally connect with someone.
That’s not fully correct. You shouldn’t only use humor, but laughing together is an extremely powerful way to connect with people.

It releases oxytocin and, even more importantly, it says you share similar personalities. Laughing together, to use the words of an ex-girlfriend of mine, communicates that you “ride the same wave”.

Unique Humor Bonds You The Most

Notice that the more abstract and weird the humor is, the more you two are bonded.

Laughing watching a comedy together is good, but if you can laugh about the “killer penguin” story you just made up, it’s even more powerful.

The made-up “killer penguin” story creates an “us” bubble and underlines even more powerfully that you two truly surf the same (humorous) wave.

Politically Incorrect Humor

Politically incorrect humor gets you closer because you don’t usually use it publicly.

It implicitly underlines you two trust each other, that you are both open-minded and that you like to poke fun at the world.

Sometimes I make it a point of being racier and raw early on indeed: PC is for acquaintances. The “real” you with all its quirks and kinks is where the real emotional connection takes place.

#6. Build “Us VS The World”

I remember a late morning, a few years ago.

Me and my ex-girlfriend were sitting on a bench after she had spent the night at my place.

We sat in front of a small green lawn, watching dogs and people play around while we made fun of the world that lay in front of our eyes.
This is very powerful.
When you look at the world as if it was you two peeking from a window, you are communicating that’s the world… and here it’s us“.

Little later she blurted out, something like this:

Her: It feels as if it’s just the two of us in the world

That was the moment I knew she was falling hopelessly in love.

Example: “US VS The World”

Here is a good example from Family Guy (Steve McFarlan is an acute observer of the human condition):

#7. Label and Cement the Emotional Connection

Remember the example above, when my ex-girlfriend said she felt “as if there was only the two of us in the world?”.
Now if I wanted to cement that emotion, I would have paused and then added something like:

I think we really have a special connection. I am very glad we met.

And then maybe moved a bit closer, put an arm around her or, best of all, kiss.

Why would you do that?

Because emotions are fleeting and by labeling them, you strengthen them and crystallize them.

It’s also very leader-like, as most people are afraid of talking about connection, bond, and emotions.
Instead, you’re not. And if she confirms, it becomes official.

Example: Officializing Your Emotional Bond

Again from this wonderful movie:

Him: I wish I had met you earlier, I really like talking to you
Her: Yeah, me too

That’s textbook labeling and cementing guys.
Labeling increases both the power and duration of your emotional connection.

#8. Do Something Crazy and Adventurous

Doing anything exciting or mildly risky is a well-known way of producing the same chemicals in our body responsible for attraction and infatuation.

It works wonders in romantic settings, but also deepens the bond with same-sex, straight individuals.
This is why war commandos often develop a strong camaraderie.

Here is another classic movie (The Dreamers):

Nothing too crazy, but exactly what makes a love story memorable.

#9. Spend a Whole Perfect Day Together

We have so far reviewed quite a few videos from “Before Sunrise”.

Well, one of the things that make “Before Sunrise” a textbook example of a deep emotional connection is the fact they spend a whole night together.

When you spend lots of time together, changing venues and having several different experiences, it feels like a time distortion field.

It feels both like you’ve just met, and like you’ve known each other for a long time.
It’s an explosive cocktail, which makes people think “all of my life, where have you been”.

The fact that you don’t know each other for a long time (or never knew each other so deeply), creates a contrast that is at the basis of what’s often referred to as “whirlwind romance”.

One of these days I’ll make an article focused on how to engineer whirlwind romance.
For now, let’s dig into the mindset of creating deep emotional connections before we wrap up:

Fundamentals of Deep Connection

This is the mindset you to reliably build emotional connections:

I believe that getting to know the real person behind our masks is the only way to properly communicate and interact with people.

Once you internalize that mindset, the next steps are the “courage” and spontaneity of the execution:

  1. Make yourself into a person who is not ashamed of talking about deep and personal topics.
  2. Overcome the fear of asking deep questions early on in the conversation
  3. Become a conversationalist and learn the technicalities of managing the flow

Once you put all three in place, you will be shocked at how quickly and reliably you can develop deep emotional bonds.
Because here is the truth about this world:

Most people are more scared and more lonely than they care to admit.
And we all long for someone who comes along and listens with empathy and without judging us.

It’s not really about making people open up.
Because they want to do it.
It’s more about giving them free space to do so. And they will love you for it.

SUMMARY

Deep connection is an intertwining of souls and it’s supremely pleasurable, whether it’s in romantic settings or social ones.

Learning to go deep and develop emotional connections will take your social skills to the next level.

Further reading:

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