When we think of bonding, most often we default to touch - but in platonic, long-distance and strained relationships, touch is not an option.
So what are the other ways we can stimulate bonding to get relationships back on track?
Not every relationship has the aspect of touch in it; in fact most of our relationships are platonic: your boss, your colleagues, your child’s teacher, your friends. Even in romantic and intimate relationships sometimes touch is not an option, often as a result of physical or emotional distance that exists between the parties.
It’s true we bond deeply to another being when we touch and smell them. This happens for physiological reasons such as chemical releases, as well as spiritual reasons, such as the blending of your energies. However, if we didn’t have other mechanisms in place to facilitate bonding, we would have no other relationships in our lives at all. This is a clear indication that those alternate mechanisms exist.
So what are the tricks you can use to create closeness with someone when physical touch is not available to you?
Use your words
If you’ve ever belonged to any small closed community, a family, couple, group of colleagues or friendship, you’ll notice that over time, as you experience events together, you develop your own language made up of catchphrases and keywords that have special meaning to you – most often reminding you of a happy or funny experience you’ve shared.
As an example of this, in my house we have the expression ‘lamb’. It originated when one of my closest friends was immigrating to New Zealand, and as a gag gift we bought her an inflatable sheep. Somehow it came to be an expression of innocence, and anyone who is caught or called out for something will profess their innocence by claiming to be lamb. It’s hysterical to us and gets used daily – but because you haven’t lived it, it means nothing to you. It’s probably not even a little bit funny.
And therein lies its power.
Because the experiences that led to the creation of the jargon were so deeply personal and situational in nature, the charge of emotion that they carry for you is incredibly strong. It’s reinforced every time you use the jargon phrase as well, often leading to new funny experiences that amplify the good feeling that you get when you connect with someone in this way.
The reason for this is anchoring: an NLP process that actually occurs quite naturally in your day-to-day world. For example, if you’ve ever met someone and instantly disliked the person for whatever reason, and you haven’t been able to shift that strong emotional charge, then you’ve experienced an anchor.
When the word or catchphrase is created in the happy or funny situation, your mind anchors the positive emotional charge to it. As a result, when you use it you feel happier and lighter because the emotional charge is activated. This often leads to more fun and laughter, which then anchors a stronger positive charge to that word. The word then becomes significantly more entrenched in the closed community over time.
So your first port of call is to utilise as much of the personal jargon of your community as possible. Every time you do this, you reintroduce a little bit of positivity into the other person’s system, chipping away at the negativity that is there. Over time you’ll wear that down and the tension will begin to dissipate between you.
By not doing it though, you run the risk of reinforcing negative emotional charges the person has anchored to you, because they are now only experiencing negative emotion around you.
Change your energy
Speaking of strong negative and positive emotional charges, you know how you walk into a room and can immediately sense if someone is in a good or bad mood, or angry? Well people can sense that about you too.
If you’re trying to bond to someone but your inner voice is running riot with a long strong of anger and negative commentary, people will feel it. The simple inner voice trick to change it is to simply drown it out with a mantra. You can go with something like just repeating ‘I love you’ over and over again in your head, or you can use the forgiveness mantra: ‘I’m sorry, I love you, I forgive you, please forgive me’.
It doesn’t always feels comfortable, or feel like you mean it, especially when you’re standing there looking at your boss reciting a mantra like this - but that’s normal. Keep going, keep chipping away at it and keep repeating the mantra non-stop for days if you have to. You will feel a change in your energy and the intensity of the negative charge towards the person will dissipate, sometimes it just takes longer than you’d like it to.
Speaking of repetition, convincers are a language tool you can also use to feel bonded and connected.
A convincer is basically the idea that you need to hear, see, experience or agree with something a certain number of times in order to make it your reality. A simple way to use convincers linguistically is to change your declarative statements into questions, e.g. ‘I love you’ becomes ‘You know I love you right?’
First you’ve made the statement, and second, in simply asking the question you’ve triggered the person to go inside themself and look for the answer. If there’s a past history of love, often they will find proof of that within themselves. That’s the second convincer. The third convincer would be in their answer to you – so don’t be afraid to push a little to get the verbal buy in. Once you’ve gotten it, you’ve delivered the power of three I love you’s in one fell swoop, and you’ve gotten your counterpart to recall positively-charged loving memories of you.
For non-intimate relationships you can try a statement like ‘You know I’ve always got your back right?’ The only caveat is that whatever you say must be true of your relationship with that person.