In our relationships, it is essential to connect in meaningful ways. There are two primary modes of connection that we often refer to as “shoulder-to-shoulder” time and “face-to-face” time.
Shoulder-to-shoulder time refers to activities that are focused on a shared interest outside of the relationship. This might include activities such as playing golf, attending events, walking the dog, or watching a sporting event at a restaurant. While these activities involve spending time together, the focus is on the shared experience rather than the relationship itself.
On the other hand, with face-to-face time, the focus is more on the relationship. This might include activities like going to dinner with your partner or getting a cup of coffee with a friend. The focus is on the interaction – the relationship between the two of you – , as you check in with each other and talk about your lives, feelings, and experiences.
In any significant relationship, it is important to have a balance of both shoulder-to-shoulder and face-to-face time. I encourage you to take note over the next week or two and pay extra attention to how you most typically connect with your partner and other important relationships in your life. If you are like most of us, you may notice that you tend to connect in one mode more often than the other. Take note of your partner’s tendencies as well, and then together make a conscious effort to incorporate both modes of connection into your relationship.
By understanding and balancing both shoulder to shoulder and face to face connection, you can strengthen your relationship and more consistently meet the needs of both partners.