Recently I’ve been reading a book that talks about relationships, and one thing that stood out to me was the observation of how relationships (of any sort) are made. The person who tries to make friends for the sake of having friends will likely have trouble building those relationships. If, on the other hand, one makes friends through mutual interests, then the relationship can develop.
This is why people become friends with those they take classes with, or work with, or are in a club with. They are people uniting for a cause. The relationship between two given people develops not when they are focusing solely on each other, but rather focusing on a mutual passion or interest, something outside themselves.
This is not to say that you can’t focus at all on the other person. It can be good to just take time to talk with someone. But what do you talk about? Often conversations between friends will gravitate toward topics that interest both parties.
I am not saying that the only way to make friends is to join a club. But this was an aspect of friendship that the book I’m reading pointed out in a way I hadn’t thought about before. Perhaps one reason I’ve had trouble making friends is that I try too hard to be likable to everyone. I don’t want to have opinions so strong that I drive those of a different mindset away. But if I don’t identify with anything, then no one will want to identify with me.
However, I have also experienced a different challenge: I may become friendly with people I take a class with, but as soon as the class is over, the relationships are over. We no longer have that common purpose to bring us together, and so we go our separate ways. I suppose the marks of a deep, lasting friendship are not based on what brings people together, but rather what keeps them together.
What is it, then, that keeps people together? In my experience, what draws me to a person may be a common interest (“You like such and such? Me too!”), but what keeps me drawn to the person is a change of focus from the interest to the person behind the interest. It could be that we have a myriad of common traits, or hardly any at all. Sometimes what draws me to a person is not how we’re similar, but how we’re different.
Shared interests then grow into shared experiences, which in turn creates shared feelings, resulting in a shared connection. How deep that connection reaches may be an indicator of how long the relationship lasts. Often the more personal the experience (whether good or bad), the deeper the connection.
These are my thoughts on the development of relationships (of any kind). Perhaps with this sorting out of my thoughts I am better able to understand how to connect with people and ultimately, better understand myself.