In recent weeks we greatly enjoyed the company of several friends, Pierre and Christina on board their boat, Gerry and Phyllis dear freinds since college days, and with Pat and Walt cruising friends that we met in the Bahamas. Thank you all for your hospitality.
We also visited John and Becky but they are family. Today's topic is friends.
What is it that attracts us to some people more than others? Why do we feel so comfortable in their presence and enjoy their company so much? I'm not much of a psychologist, but I'll make a few observations.
- Common experiences and outlook often introduced us, but can't explain the depth of our attraction. Some of our dearest friends have very different backgrounds and world views than Libby and I.
- I have a few friends that Libby doesn't know well, and she has some I don't know. But the majority of our best friends are happily married couples. That goes hand-in-hand with our habits of socializing mostly as a couple rather than as individuals.
- Most of our friendship bonds appeared nearly immediately. I tried to think of a close friendship that grew gradually over a prolonged time. I can't.
- If you put a bunch of similar people together (say at a cocktail party, or a club meeting, or a pot luck dinner) they will pretty rapidly self organize into clusters of people who like each other more than the others. Some of those people become acquaintances, some casual friends, and some best friends, and some lifetime friends. How can people be so effective at that? It's a mystery.
- The mystery deepens when it involves couple-to-couple frienships. If Libby and I become friends with another couple, there are 4 people and 12 person-to-person relationships required. That's a lot more complex. How can couples be so effective at that? Libby and I do it all the time, and we don't consult with each other while forging those bonds. It's a bigger mystery. If we lived in a society where poly marriages were common, how would the family-to-family friendship dynamics work?
- It seems trivially obvious that nice people make friends easier than less nice ones, and that acts of kindness spawn friendships more often than acts of hostility. I imagine that non-nice people have a more difficult time finding friends than nice ones, but the non-nice ones usually manage to find some friends.
- Perhaps the most trying thing to any friendship is separation. After separation, some friendships diminish and die, while other friendships remain eternally strong.