I was in Old Navy yesterday, gazing longingly at all the new springy stuff, when I saw a good friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a while walk by. Looking back on it, it was so nice to see her, because she’s one of those friends that I can not see for several weeks (months…*ehem*- I am a bad friend) and pick up like we never left off. Now, it may be due simply to the friend’s awesomeness (which is entirely possible), but I found myself thinking about friendship in general, and my friends, to be specific.
What is it about friendship that allows for various levels of strange? We seem to allow certain friends their wierdnesses, while others we may hold to a different standard. If I compare my friendship with Mrs. Old Navy to that of, say, Mrs. Bloomingdale’s, I am much more likely to have issues with the second one than the first. But it depends largely on how lenient I am with each. Mrs. Old Navy may be just as psychotic as Mrs. Bloomingdale’s, but I may be more likely to accept (and overlook) ON’s wierdnesses than Mrs. B’s. Trying to analyze why, here are some thoughts, though each factor has its alternate side, as well:
1. Time of acquaintance. If I have known Mrs. WholeFoods for 3 years, but Mrs. HalfCapNoFoam for 7, does that make me more likely to accept deviant behavior from Mrs. HalfCap? What happens with those friends with whom you have one of those “meeting of the minds”, and everything just always seems to click? Do we forgive the people we know better more or less than the more recent acquaintances? This is debatable – I have known people who won’t forgive something that happened 15 years ago, but are readily able to shrug off the insult of a person they’ve known for fifteen minutes.
2. Values. I find it logical to assume that if we share a similar value system, we are more likely to accept strangeness or psychosis from a particular person, since in times of disagreement or trouble, the pair has a shared system of values to which they can find recourse. A great example of this is my church- we have so many eccentric people, it’s a common joke there that you have to be weird to be a member. But the issues that arise between people in that situation are resolved or forgiven because of a shared value system to which we all adhere. So what happens with the people you know that have a totally different value system? Sometimes these people are the ones you get along with best!
3. Tolerance. This one I’m not too sure about, because I think levels of tolerance change in direct proportion to the particular stress. For example, my friend Mr. Fmajor is one of the most laid-back, benignly tolerant people I know until you mention immigration. Then, whoo-hoo! Call in the riot police. We seem to have buttons that are not to be touched, and knowing those buttons for each friend has to be part of the balancing act of friendship.
And in the end, it seems like a decision has to be made about each person with whom we come into contact: is this person a viable candidate to be a presence in my life? If so, then what am I willing to put up with from this person- and what am I not? And if not, then why not? Is there a valid reason- do we need a valid reason? The factors that influence that decision seem more random than I’d care to admit.