I'm glad people enjoyed the poem! So, we've delved a bit into how romantic relationships are initiated--Shades of Gray also wrote a post recently that described the process in a way that made a lot of sense to me. It seems like the same factors for romance-- being in the right place and time combined with chemistry-- are similar to how friendships are initiated. I realize that I've never written about the topic of how friendships are formed. So here it goes...
I've realized that the making of good friends does not depend on the length we've known each other or shared interests. I've also realized fairly recently that even though I might want it to be otherwise, not everyone is going to become my best friend if I just put in enough effort. A friend is not a close friend is not a best friend, and people don't seem to move easily between categories. Despite the prevailing "wisdom", I've never been able to make friends simply by joining groups or doing activities. As a kid, I met my best friend because we happened to be sitting at the same picnic table. As an adult, friendships don't seem a whole lot less random. They've always seemed as dependent on the right time/place and chemistry as romantic relationships might be. Just like romance, there doesn't appear to be any formula for friendship, either.
I've realized that you can have an acquaintance for years who never really becomes your friend, even though on paper they might look like they should be. It also seems like people are more open to new friends at certain times in their lives, and you have to catch someone at the right time. If you do, you can stay friends with that person even if they move away or get busier later. If you don't, the friendship just isn't going to happen, no matter how much the two of you might share. That's why you aren't going to make friends from joining things alone. Of course, you have a better chance of making new friends if you meet new people. But it sometimes seems like you have to meet an exhausting number of new people (there go the thoughts of an introvert) to make one friend. Making friends (and maintaining friendships) is not always easy, especially for adults who are out of school, and deserves as much discussion as romantic relationships get.
I wonder if technologies like Facebook are changing the way we view friendship at all. I know people that have 300, 500, 600+ friends on Facebook, and I'm sure they wouldn't consider all these people to really be friends. But it's strange how a "friend" can either be the most important person in your life or someone you hardly know. I wonder how other people define friendship-- do you call someone a friend based on length known, amount of time spent together, sense of connection felt, mutual interests, the fun you have, a sense of accountability, shared past, or something else entirely?
*Thanks to the writer of Edge of Everywhere for the conversation about friendship, among other things (and good company in the extreme cold)!