Yesterday, I found a new friend. How does that happen? It's like dating without the drama. But what is it exactly that determines an instant connection with someone else?
If it's someone of the opposite sex, then society usually calls it chemistry, and assumes it's flirty, sexual in nature. Can a man and a woman be just friends? Yes and no. The men in my life that have been my best friends have been just that. They get me, I can trust them, we laugh a lot together, but in the next breath can talk about matters of substance. But inevitably, problems arise. Either they, their wives/significant others, or society deems that there must be something more in the relationship than just friendship. It is so stinking frustrating! Probably, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm single, and that creates an assumption in many people's minds that I'm on the prowl. Yeah, right.
If it's someone of the same sex, then it's acceptable. For me, a friendship with a woman is easier in the long run, but harder up front. Maybe it's because I don't want to compete, but feel we're always sizing each other up. Maybe it's because women in general don't have the same sense of humor I do (that of either a 12-year-old boy or a sarcastic, crass old man). Maybe it's because I am self-sufficient (both because I have to be and I want to be), and I see many women flaunting their dependence on men. Maybe it's because I've heard mean, gossipy things from women, and am wary of being targeted. Maybe it's because I'm not AS interested in talking about the same things: shopping, children, animals, domesticated life.
However, once friendship with a woman is established, then it is there for the rest of my life. Miraculously. My best friend from the 4th grade attends the same church I do, and although we don't hang around together, I know that if I needed her, she'd come running. And vice versa. In July, I saw a friend of mine I hadn't seen in about 15 years, and we fell right back into being friends, although I may not see her again for as many years. In August, I got together with friends from college, some of whom hadn't seen each other for 30 years. Yet, it was incredibly easy, nice, and truly affirming to renew our friendships, regardless of the differing paths our lives have taken in the interim.
But what draws us together initially? Sometimes, it's purely experiences we go through together that create friendship. Due to difficult or even wonderful (but usually intense) exposure to the same event, a shared understanding and trust develops, sometimes immediately. But that is understandable due to the rarity of the event, and the obvious commonality between the two people.
What about meeting new people for the first time, when you just know you enjoy that person's presence? It often happens when someone is similar to us, whether it be in outward appearance, age, passion, interests, or vocation. It's easy to have much in common with someone like yourself. But that's not completely it. I often find people like me boring. I don't want to hang around with clones.
I don't have the answer, but I sure am grateful for whatever it is. That spark of potential intimacy known as friendship is an unexpected windfall, a hope for more.