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What matters most in life is relationships. They define the quality of your time on Earth and determine the legacy you leave behind. Reaching out to people and letting them into your heart offers you – and them – the warmth and comfort that only deeply caring friends can bestow.

So why aren’t more of us able to establish these critical connections? The answer’s simple – fear. And getting past it is the first hurdle to building lasting, meaningful relationships. Facing your fear isn’t easy, but in relationship building, like bodybuilding, it’s no pain, no gain.

Many of us fear opening up because we’ve chosen badly in the past – making ourselves vulnerable to people who aren’t trustworthy and who used our openness against us. Before you can open your heart to someone, you have to be able to trust that person. So look for a potential friend who has a reputation for being reliable and who you look up to and respect – someone who you feel can keep your confidences. Ask around: does this person have a reputation for gossiping and talking about other people’s personal business, or is he or she able to maintain confidences?

Then have coffee with your prospective friend and discuss what you have to offer and what you expect in return. First agree that your conversations will remain confidential, so you’ll both feel safe sharing your feelings. Pledge that you’ll honor each other’s feelings as each other’s absolute truths, to be listened to without opinion or judgment. Of course, you can argue personal opinions about politics, current events, science, sports, music, art, and whatever other interests you have; but accept that each of you is the ultimate authority on his or her feelings.

If you’ve gone through an issue similar to one your friend’s dealing with, such as divorce, share how you felt, what you did that worked and didn’t work, and what you learned. Offering your individual experience on an emotional level gives your friend valuable information that he or she can evaluate and use to make a personal decision. It’s a caring, openhearted response that honors and supports your friend’s strength and decision-making ability. The more conversations like this that you and your new friend have, the more willing you’ll both be to share deeper and deeper issues with each other. And so, your friendship will continue to deepen.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Until I was in my forties, I was a lone wolf who had only superficial and fleeting relationships and no friends. I embraced these simple principles, and twenty years later I have many openhearted friendships. It was hard to let go of my fear, but I did, and it’s the most important work I’ve ever done. Because I now have many intimate friendships based on mutual respect, trust, and love.

So, open your heart before it’s too late. Life is for sharing, caring and connecting. Reach out now!

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Like many men, author and speaker Ken Solin grew to manhood with little idea of what acting like a man was all about. Coming from an abusive home, he got his lessons in the streets and struggled with anger, abandonment, and other issues well into his forties. He'd raised two sons as a single father but was friendless and alone.

Twenty years ago, Ken put together a men's group where eight guys met - and continue to meet - to teach each other the lessons of manhood most didn't get from their fathers, and to work through the issues that affect their relationships and limit their lives. The insights he's gained into friendship and trust, intimacy and sexuality, marriage and divorce and parenting and fatherhood have earned him a loyal following by both men and women.

Ken chronicled the two-decade journey of his men's group in his new book, Act Like a Man-available now on Amazon, in Kindle or print editions, where it has garnered unanimous 5 Star reviews - and blogs daily on his website, Ken is a regular contributor to "The Huffington Post" and "The Good Men Project" and frequently receives hundreds of comments from readers.

His message is a powerful - and proven: that the empowerment of men and the resulting strength and health of their relationships with their partners, their children, their friends, and their coworkers depends on their becoming aware of and in control of their emotions.

Guys can learn what it means to act like a man - and Ken Solin is the man to teach them. ;

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I love what you said Ken. It is oh so true how important relationships are. I am a stroke survivor (and fellow IMT luminary), and one thing that my circumstance brought to light was the question “what was really important in life”. I wrote about it in my book Radiant Survivor…about how relationships are so very important. The relationship with yourself, with others and with Spirit. It is what gets us through the trials and tribulations of life. It is what helps us see who we really are. It gives us the support we need. It gives us the strength we need to continue moving forward in spite of any challenge we may encounter. Thank you for reminding me of this! Many blessings!

  2. A true inspiration just what I needed now. I have been a lone wolf all my life. Will be 63 in March, still don’t have friends that are intimate, trustworthy with mutual respect and trust but only fleeting and superficial relationships that do not last. I will remember what you shared here and take your advice. Thank you!

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