Getting Comfortable with a Friend

I used to think the comfort level I had with someone was based on EITHER the depth of knowledge I had about their personal life OR the length of time we’d spend together.  However, it has come to light that the friends who I feel most comfortable with have simply been the ones I’ve spent the most time with, and not necessarily the ones I know the most about, or have shared the most with.  People who I spend a lot of time with but I don’t know much about, aren’t really friends because they’ve just been in the background—no connection had been made.  As such, I now know it’s based on both.

This explains why it is hard to have many friends—I thought that with the appropriate “interview” skills, I could sustain a friendship at a cognitive level with minimal time input.  I am finding out a friendship based on cognitive connection alone is not possible—the list of people I have knowledge about has never been so large, the list of people whom I can call request to hang out has never been so large, and yet the list of people who consider me a friend—since friendship must be mutual—is not as large.

From very valuable feedback, I have learned that my once per month or more frequency of contact, slow response time to requests on the order of days to weeks, and priority based on time since last contact rather than strength of relationship, gives the impression of inconsistency, a lack of care, and generally not the behavior you’d expect from a true friend.

This concept has been difficult for me to grasp because while time is an integral part of developing a relationship, I have always believed that the strength of the relationship is not dependent upon the frequency of contact, and the reason I believe this is because I have some friends whom I rarely talk to ever now, perhaps a couple times a year, and yet they are friends for sure.  However, when I think about it now, I realize it’s because at some point in the history of the relationship, a very large investment of time was made—there was a period of time where the frequency of information exchange was high enough that it was not just a shared experience cognitively, but a shared experience period—a friend experiences your life with you, not just knows about it.

More on What I Learned About Friendship in 2013

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