Monday, July 18, 2011


The other week, a friend and I were talking about polyamory (which I think is the most reasonable relationship system - if a friend told me I couldn't have other friends now that I had them I'd run for the hills, and, since it's occurred to me to think about it, I've never fully understood why romantic love is different.  But I'm not jealous in romance, and some people are, and it's nice to put things on a pedestal I guess, so different strokes.) Her take on it is that different partners fulfil different needs.  My working definition of romance is "like friendship, but fuzzier", so I keep drawing different conclusions.

I have some baseline level of friendship that I require in my life to feel functional.  I need to be reasonably confident that I can walk into a room and be able to talk to at least some people reasonable easily, and not have to sit by myself or feel I'm intruding or unwanted.  It's not a high bar, and once achieved I get to feel not too neurotic.  Once that threshold is crossed, the friendship becomes increasingly fuzzy, and then things get fantastic.

What is lovely in friendship is that, past my "yay people can stand me" threshold, people are creating niches, rather than filling them.  I don't strictly need someone with whom I can talk about feminism and funny things dogs do and food (hey, alliteration!), or Doctor Who and David Tennant and who would die first if this were a horror film?, or crafts and lecturers and this job, amirite?  I could go out and find people who would be happy to talk about at least one of those topics - I don't need the people who are there already.  I want them.  And I think that's wonderful, it makes people more than the sum of their parts in your interactions with them.

Being needed makes me feel useful - being optional and still wanted makes me feel fuzzy.

This does also make it hurt when people leave, or change - you still have a Sally-shaped space in your life, but Sally doesn't fit it any more, or you've both changed to a degree where you don't fit each other anymore.  And that hurts the most I think, when you haven't quite grown apart, when you still want the person's friendship but it just won't benefit either of you.  But that's okay too, it mattered enough in the first place to hurt.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes it so hard to say goodbye!"
In conclusion: friendship is nice.  Revelatory stuff.

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