On my first day of graduate school, I walked into a classroom and spotted a young woman placing a pillow on her chair. While there was nothing unusual about her — other than the pillow, which I was super curious about — I instantly knew we’d become close friends. I didn’t know a thing about her and didn’t speak with her for weeks — she was shy and quiet. But sure enough, by the end of the semester we were friends, and eight months later, roommates. I was eventually a bridesmaid in her wedding.
That immediate sense of “friendship destiny” has happened to me on numerous occasions. But I’ve had many friendships develop in other ways, too. There are people I’d never know if circumstances hadn’t thrust us together, forging a bond between us. And with other friendships, one of us clearly pursued the other in the beginning, until it became mutual.
Pursuing friendship (or not pursuing it) is something most of us have spent significant time on, but often don’t discuss. An article last month in NY Magazine called, “Why It’s Smart To Court Your Friends” got me thinking more about this. I agree with the writer Ann Friedman when she says that “most of our courtship narratives are still romantic, which really tends to obscure the importance of friendship’s early stages, and downplay the thought and skill that goes into cultivating meaningful platonic relationships.” Here’s another excerpt from the article:
“Nearly all friendships are based on a spark of mutual attraction. Some people describe platonic love-at-first-sight stories, wherein they were instantly drawn to a new acquaintance and just knew they would befriend her,” says Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are. Still, she says, “We often drift into friendships, especially when we’re young and in a work or school setting that makes it easy to automatically ramp things up without having to make a concerted effort to develop the friendship. The main point of my book is that we should be more conscious of how and whom we befriend, since these people have a huge impact on our life trajectories.”
I find that the older I get, the more particular I am about who I spend time with. I only have so much time and energy, and with age comes the deep realization that life is short, and I want to spend it with people and endeavors that mean the most, the ones that truly enrich me.
Have you ever consciously pursued a friendship — or been the one pursued? Do you think friendship should always develop organically or is there room to be deliberate about cultivating our platonic relationships?
Image from Grazia Daily via Sundance Channel