Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My theory of friendship

I'm not going to write a lot of detail here, just start talking about something I've thought for a long time. There's a mythology out there that the way we get to be friends is by having mutual interests, mutual sense of humor, etc., and there's some truth to that but it's not the whole story.

My experience tells me that the main way I become friends with anyone is by spending time with them. To paraphrase Al Franken on parenting, "forget quality time, try good ol' stinkin' quantity time."

Who are my friends, really? They are: the people I was in plays with in highschool, the people I roomed with in college, the people I drank with in law school, the people I worked next door to in the capitol, the people I live and work with in cohousing, and, more recently, the people in my church and spiritual communities.

Many of my recent friends do not share my political beliefs, my taste in novels, or my deep abiding use of sarcasm. Yet, we are super close.

I am coming to believe that the old adage, "to know someone is to live them" is the truest. I also find it true, however, that "familiarity breeds contempt." The cycle is like this for me:

Phase 1: meet someone, like them or not, form an opinion, a judgment of them;

Phase 2: (must get over an initial negative judgment--only sheer time does this) get to know them a bit and discover that my opinion or judgment was wrong (so, if I thought they were tiresome and boring, I learn that they're not and if I thought they were flawless and brilliant, I learn that they're not).

Phase 3: (must push through disappointment aspect of phase 2 to get to phase 3--only sheer time does this) learn to love them as a 3-dimensional whole person.

I can honestly say that in my intentional community of 25 households, I love each every person here. There isn't anyone here that I wouldn't go to any lengths for. And no, they aren't all my friends, some I love but don't like particularly. Yet, many who are my friends I wouldn't have been friends with had I been trolling for them on the internet. Their personal ad would not have attracted me.

I wonder, could the same be said, at the end of the day, for lovers?

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