Connectedness - or relatedness - is the need to have and develop a warm, close bond with others.
I often do not know how to make contact with fellow students when I want to do an activity together.
Student life is more than just studying; contact with fellow students is also important. Being connected to others is a universal basic psychological need. When this need is frustrated, you feel lonely and isolated, and emotional troubles can arise. On the other hand, students who feel connected with their educational institution and other students seem buffered twice as well against the development of emotional problems, and they also tend to perform better academically.
Connectedness is the need to have and develop a warm, close bond to others. You experience relatedness when you feel like you mean something to someone, or belong to a group (for instance your family, a student society or group of friends).
You can feel related thanks to everyday things, such as a good chat or sending and receiving messages, but relatedness also concerns larger issues, like taking care of a sick parent or contributing positively to tackling climate change.
Just like autonomy and competence, connectedness – which is also known as bonding – is a universal basic psychological need. Knowing you can always address or find solace in people in your close surroundings, even during hard times, is essential.
Connectedness is composed of a mix of two ingredients: positive relationships and solidarity.
Relatedness refers to the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with others. These include friendships, romantic relationships, and bonds with your parents, fellow students and flatmates. They are relationships in which you can call on each other when needed: you can rely on the other, and they can rely on you. Positive relationships consist of trust, empathy and intimacy.
The main characteristic of a positive relationship is the support you are able to give others - within the limits of your own possibilities - while being supported yourself, for instance by protecting others or making sure they feel better. This can be hidden in little things, like cooking your friend a good meal or letting a fellow student borrow your notes.
Not the quantity, but the quality is essential. In other words, the extent to which you feel connected to others is more important than the number of relationships or contacts you have.
Relatedness also concerns engagement in your community or neighbourhood. Through this commitment you find meaning and experience a sense of belonging and unity with others.
You can feel connected to a group in which you feel ‘at home’ like your youth movement, flatmates, college/university, friends from secondary school, etc., but also to a larger culture or particular subculture such as the LGBTQI+ movement, a political party, a religion or a climate protest.
It has been proven that those who are committed to others (for instance through volunteering) experience more positive feelings like happiness, joy and pride.
I did not know anybody beforehand, but making friends turned out to be easier than I had expected. Fellow students soon share the same interests, which ensures a ‘click’. On the introduction day, I immediately found connection with a small group.
Go out and pluck up the courage to make contact with others. Consciously seek out places where you are able to meet new people or start a conversation with a stranger.
Do you wish to meet new people or reunite with old acquaintances? Student societies and organisations arrange a large number of activities by and for students.
PepSpace is a nice place full of warm compliments, pep talk and encouragement to give yourself a boost or pass on good vibes to those who need them.
Send your personal e-card and provide some digital inspiration.
Do you find it hard to make contact with others? Are you in need of a listening, sympathetic ear? Feel free to make an appointment with the student counselling services of your educational institution. They will listen to you and help you find the right solution.
Host Carola talks to student Mathias and Maarten Vansteenkiste, professor in developmental psychology at Ghent University. The topic of this episode is the ABC of psychology.
You are not alone. Get inspired by other students' stories about vulnerability and doubt. But above all about the power of connectedness.Go to the stories