Building bridges 101

Updated: May 1

How to create long-lasting healthy connections?

Contents of this post:

*This post is the part one of a series. You can find the second part here.

**This series is dedicated to my rock, Arda.

What is a bridge?

A bridge is defined as "a structure built to span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road." The purpose of a bridge is to connect two pieces of land, which are otherwise disconnected.

The English language has beautiful expressions that underline the importance of "bridges" aka precious connections in relationships. Burning bridges is a synonym used to indicate "to act in a way that destroys any chance of returning to the way things were". And along the same lines, building bridges, means "connecting two different groups, improve relationship between two parties."

We all want our relationships, especially the ones that matter to us, survive and thrive.

Yet, some bridges shake and collapse. Some of them burn down. Some of them hang by a thread. And we all know that building good bridges, from scratch can be excruciatingly hard.

I wish I could be the one to tell you the *n* step guide to build a connection. However it is not as easy as that.

Sometimes it can be so daunting to build a bridge, repair a connection so that we might seem to prefer not to have that relationship at all.

"I don't need anything from anyone, I am fine like this" Does it sound familiar?

Some relationships, no matter how hard and hurtful they may be, they are primal and we feel this deep desire to keep them alive, build bridges, over and over again.

After burning down some of my most fundamental bridges and building some more from scratch, I started thinking more and more about what worked for me and what did not.

The purpose of this post is to distill down my experience and insight to equip you with some practical strategies to help you build your bridges.

Again, I don't have a guide/handbook, yet I might have a helpful map for you.

Why do we need bridges?

We need bridges, to connect different people and mend broken relationships or connections.

and I hope you already know that connection, the emotional connection, is vital for human survival. It is not something that you can live without.

It is a fundamental need to survive.

I do not have neither the space nor time to summarize decades long research about attachment research here (feel free to looking to the resources at the end of this series), so for the sake of this post, I hope you can take my word when I say, you need those warm, close, dependable and loving connections (aka healthy and secure bridges) to survive. Literally.

Wouldn't that be great if all relationships were easy and effortless? I mean, if all our relationships were healthy and we lifted each other up and enjoyed our close relationships...

Sadly, that is not always the case.

As we much we believe we are very similar to our loved ones, friends or family; we are separate human beings with different sets needs, values and priorities. When we interact with one another, all these "differences" come together and it is only normal that we will have some level of conflict, misunderstanding and disagreement.

Sometimes these conflicts could turn into something else, increase in magnitude and shake the relationship to it's core. Unfortunately, some relationships do not survive these "earthquakes".

We might lose some of our most fundamental and precious connections with time if we don't stay tuned to this earthquakes. Then, "suddenly" the connection/the bridge that we did not even pay attention before and probably taken for granted for so long, is gone. And we are left miserable and alone in a rift.

After a rift, we have either of the following three choices as I see it:

  • End the relationship with this person completely and walk away

  • Do some repair work & start building new connections aka bridges

  • Live in a limbo (indecisive about whether to work through or walk away)

WALK AWAY - If you decide to end the relationship and walk away, well, then your "problem" is solved in a sense. This is a complicated track as some relationships never really end (if it is formative) and it is a personal choice. So, I will briefly say that if this is really the decision you decide to take, I wholeheartedly support you and I hope you find your peace and closure within yourself.

REPAIR - If you decided that this relationship matters to you somehow (even though it hurts you...) and you need to keep this connection in some shape or form in your life, then welcome to the world of bridges.

LIMBO - There is a third place that you can be, a limbo, and as the name implies, it is neither hell or heaven. At some point, eventually, you need to decide on what to do with this relationship. If you are at this place, I would suggest you to read on, especially how-to part to see if this is something that you are willing to work on or not.

How hard it can be, one might think? to build a bridge - repair, reconcile, and move on?

"I mean, it was just a fight. Not that big deal."

"Come on! Don't hold grudges, the past is gone"

or my favorite one: " Come on, forgiveness is a virtue, be the bigger person here. Life is short."

In my experience, none of the above words are enough or helpful by themselves