What makes a friendship start?


Bases for friendships are irrational. When we were kids our friendships were largely determined by who else lived in our block, but as adults with wider options we like to think our rationale has deeper reaches.

It doesn’t.

The absurdity of it struck me today when I shared a profound social bonding moment with a stranger…because we had the same car.

It had been so exhilarating, though! There we were, just two cars in coagulated traffic, when we spotted the other. The same model. The same sub-model. In the same yellow. Numberplate even starting with the same familiar letter.

People with boring cars, like anything in white or grey, wouldn’t understand the excitement at seeing someone else with the same car—but when your car is a bold yellow station wagon (which makes for a lot of bold yellow), amidst a town of boring white and grey hatchbacks, it’s exciting. It’s instant camaraderie.

We’d both grinned and waved madly at each other, excitement making us bounce in our seats. I’d felt the compulsion to run over to her and yell, “I love your car! What’s your name? Let’s get coffee!” (I didn’t do this. But all the way home I fantasised about it and the spectacular friendship that would follow.)

It’s irrational. A car commonality is a stupid thing to base a friendship on. But compared to what? What of my other friendships?

Only recently I asked one of my closest ones why and how we were friends. In a moment of illumination I had noticed that we have absolutely no interests in common—further, we’re the antithesis of the other. There seems no logic or rationality to the friendship pairing. It seems we had just moved into the same student flat one day and thought, “I like your company. I’ll keep it around.”

Since then we’ve both married, and both lived in different countries, but we still kept it around—even if only electronically. For no reason that I can figure out.

Another friend I deem very close is a similar case. Polar-opposite personality type, different interests, and also beyond a continental boundary. But despite this, our friendship is strong.

And yet a girl I knew in high school, who shared so many interests and significant life experiences with me—the friend with whom I’d planned to grow old with, wearing funny hats and talking about the old days—that friend was lost in time’s quicksands long ago.

Is friendship all pot-luck, then? An indeterminable system of hit-and-miss? Can anything determine whether or not a person will ‘click’ with someone else?

The only thing I’ve managed to determine about that ‘click’ is that, when purposefully looking for one, it will not happen.


(3) Comments

  • Jill Liley
    24 Jun 2015

    Hi Eve, I am doing the same Futurelearn course, Good Brain, Bad Brain where I picked up your link. I can identify with your irrational car thing. I used to own 2cv’s for years, and still want to rush over to talk to fellow enthusiasts until I remember I no longer have one . I now drive a Nissan, but if I had a spare few thou, would have a 2cv for the summer. I don’t have any answers re the friendship query, except that it’s a mutual attraction, as in opposites attract, although not always opposite. You can have a lot in common with some friends. Hope you are enjoying the course. This has been the best one I have done so far in terms of expanding my brain. Lol

    • Eve
      25 Jun 2015

      Hi Jill, thanks for the comment. Yes, I imagine a 2CV would be a bonding point for current-owners and previous-owners alike — it’s a very obscure looking car, by today’s standards!

      I’m really enjoying my foray into FutureLearn, but found ‘Good Brain, Bad Brain’ to be a bit tedious. Conversely, I found the ‘What is a Mind?’ course to be fantastically engaging. Evidently I lean more toward philosophy than biology!

      • Jill Liley
        25 Jun 2015

        i love philosophy too, so will try that one.

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