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A Lasting Friendship is like a Marriage: Both Require Understanding, Dedication, and Commonality
The Reasons Friendships Are Created
Carvallo and Pelham (2006), in their research on why people form friendships, claim that people are often drawn to one another because of the way they were treated by others in the past. According to Carvallo and Pelham (2006), stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination and what people have had to encounter because of them are the factors that can draw people to one another. Other researchers, Williams and Sommer (as cited in Carvallo and Pelham, 2006), point out that a sense of belonging is the force that brings people together. There is a desire to be accepted that drives all of us.
The attraction is immediate and it is an unconscious activity. Mengly Hernandez (as cited in Rosenblum, 2008), disagrees with this to a certain extent by saying it is not easy to open oneself to strangers. According to Hernandez (Rosenblum, 2008), people have to be on their guard because most people are looking for something when they meet new people. When Lisa and I first met in the parking lot outside our kids' classroom, the friendship attraction was immediate, but we also had things in common that didn't take long to discover. For example, she had a boy and I had a girl. For some unexplainable reason, the kids were immediately drawn to one another. They were only first graders, but they chased one another all over the school grounds and wanted to spend every minute away from school together. My daughter would spend the night at Lisa's apartment for a sleep-over. Lisa became like an aunt to my daughter and when I had to work, Lisa took care of her. Lisa and I are from the same economic background and we both have husbands who spend most of their waking hours at work. Best friends Jamie Lee Curtis and jewelry designer, Cathy Waterman (Lieberman and Herman, 2004, Apr.) have the same type of friendship and claim their friendship is based around their families.
Even though our kids are grown now (hers is married and lives several miles away up north and mine is a full-time graduate student in Los Angeles), Lisa and I spend as much time as we can together. We are like the old married couple who have done everything together.
I have had many friends over the years. Some friendships have lasted, and some dissolved just as soon as they were created. There are many types of friends: the ones who only use you as a partner to hang out with, the ones who come to you for money, the ones who use you as a sounding board. Trying to discover what you have in common with these new friends is the same process you go through when you first meet someone whom you want to see romantically.
It was with Lisa that I quickly learned what a true friend is. When I informed her I would have to stop our daily walk around the track so I could work a full-time job, she understood. When I told her I was leaving Los Angeles, the city where our friendship had blossomed, to join my husband in San Diego, she understood. Through the twenty-odd years that we have been friends, she has never questioned any of my decisions, Instead, she has supported me through everything. And I have tried to do the same for her.
As with all long-term relationships, we have been through both the good times as well as the hard. The key to keeping the relationship strong is sharing everything, the laughter, the screams, as well as the pain. And a sense of humor has helped us endure.
How long do two people have to know one another before they become like a married couple?
Understanding and Compassion
Like the married couple who knows everything about one another, Lisa and I both know everything about each other, share everything, and love one another despite what we know and what we have shared. Because we have been best friends for over twenty years, we have grown together. Lisa understands me better than anyone else does, and this includes my husband, my kids, and other friends. She was my backbone when my husband had to move to another city for work. And now that my husband and I have been reunited, she understands my every mood, my every word, and is quick to forgive me when I say the wrong thing. I know that I can count on her because of the experiences we have shared. Most importantly, she has never and I believe she will never judge me for anything I have already done and what I may do in the future.
Carvallo, M. & Pelham, B.W. (2006). When friends become friends: The need to belong and perceptions of personal and group discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.90 (1) 94-108.
Lieberman, E. & Herman, J.P. (2004, Apr.) Soul sisters.InStyle. 11 (4).422 - 430.
Rosenblum, E. (2008, Jul 28 - Aug 4). Best friends: They look like sisters. They finish each other's sentences. Look book meets the BFFs. The Look Book: Best Friends Edition.