One thing I’ve been thinking about concerning my friendships is the starting and driving point of that relationship. Was it compability or convenience? Sometimes we find someone taking up space in our lives and there’s this reluctance to let go because of the long investment or their potential hurt feelings. But do we actually like this person, as in do we like their personality or even enjoy spending time with them?
Are we actually compatible? I see compatibilty as liking the core of who someone is. It can be instant or gradual. Instant is being attracted to someone’s vibe while gradual is a slow burn type relationship. It can be measured by two people’s alignment of lifestyle choices, values, likes and dislikes and their pre-existing and communicated expectations of what relationships should look like.
The complementarity principle states that differences, sometimes opposites, in needs and personality characteristics drive satisfaction in relationships. Here we have the popular introvert and extrovert match. However, we also have the similarity principle. It claims that the more similar the partners’ personalities, the happier their relationship ought to be. Ought is the most important word here. These compatibility models search for an optimal trait but we can’t really measure complementation unless we’re in the relationship.
But how do we measure or view complementation? I think we can tell when someone isn’t for us but these models have been my go to:
Flow- being a relationship that just worked made me realize how much energy I put in my previous ones. I should not be afraid to spend time with someone I considered close friend because of potential awkwardness and a lack of what to talk about. There should be an ease that makes a relationship worth being in.
An Understanding- whether this is unspoken or developed. It’s a kind of understanding that comes with the gradualness of relationships. It requires proper observation and listening.
Future Projections – People tend to like people with whom they expect to continue interacting with in the future. An alignment in interests has you imagining a future with someone especially outside of the situation the friendship started.
Communication is a critical source of compatibility. Lack of communication can create frustration especially when our needs are not communicated. We stay in a state of dissatisfaction and what-ifs assuming the person should know what to do. However, the other individual might actually be compatible in that area but we wouldn’t know cause there’s been no type of conversation about it.
Everything worth having in this life requires work. Communication is hard work. It’s easier to stay in passive relationships than develop relationships that have depth. Any kind of relationship that is going to grow in depth and pleasure is going to have to go through a constant redefining that can only come from communication.
Compatibility evolves as we do including our likes, dislikes, lifestyle choices and sometimes even our values. How do we continue in relationships that were formed on the back of these qualities? I postulate that there has to be something deeper that keeps two people together after several years of growing and evolving. I think one of those things is choice and communication is a part of how we choose. It shows that compatibility can grow and even be involved in the reigniting of old relationships.
High View of Self
Studies show that our overall self-esteem has a lot to do with the kind of people we attract and how we fit with them. At first, this didn’t occur to me but I can see how this can affect the quality of friendships we develop.
Based on this line of reasoning, Klohnen and Mendelsohn recently proposed that assortative mating in personality should differ substantially across couples and, more important, that this variability should be associated with self–ideal-self congruence, which is an indirect measure of self-esteem. More specifically, Klohnen and Mendelsohn anticipated that people with a high self–ideal-self congruence would tend to be mated with partners who are similar to their personality.
Conversely, people with low self–ideal-self congruence would tend to be mated with partners who are dissimilar to their personality. Their findings supported these hypotheses: Those who like their own personality will aspire to a partner with similar personality attributes; conversely, those who dislike their own personality will look out for complementarity in a partner.
Measures of Amity
This is is how much we feel someone is our friend. In the world of unrequited and inadequate friendships , we sometimes find ourselves in relationships because of convenience and later on obligation. I think there’s a place for acquaintances and casual friendships but it becomes complicated when we try to elevate the relationship to a place it is not yet at. However, this has become easy to do because of constant proximity and lack of introspection.
It’s easy to see someone as a close friend when you see them for majority of the day everyday but a relationship driven by convenience isn’t one to hold fast to and you might end up not wanting to. I don’t think its enough for friends to share the same hobby, the same job, go to the same school or live in the same neighbourhood. Sharing these things is an awful start to a relationship but it shouldn’t stop there. Sharing is not bonding. This is such an insight to many of my relationships in university, it never goes beyond doing school together. There are no shared meaningful experiences – no talk of future academic plans or connecting over liking this semesters material. I used to beat myself over that and sometimes try to force conversation but that desperate act ended up serving no one. Genuine relationships should flow.
Alignment in interest and having shared meaningful experiences is important, it seperates real freidnships from friendships of convenience.