How do you define your friendships right now? Robust? Genuine and loving? Transactional? Our own Mary Schneider, a Resonance Repatterning expert based in Austin, shares her perspective on how friendships sometimes evolve. 

Some people distinguish spring as the season of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. Others consider it to be fall. Which one are you? Those in favor of spring cite nature’s pristine growth and the birth of all creatures great and small…spring is heady and the harbinger of new romance. Those partial to fall allude to innovative new cars and TV show introductions historically, as well as harvest time and the brand-new school year. Of course, the season kicks in from football games to galas to the holidays. We here choose fall–it is a time of renewal as it signals the hope of wonderful things and perhaps most of all the possibility of new bonds and friendships.

 

Particularly this fall. The pandemic and its isolation provided an opportunity for us to look at what types of friendships are the most important to us. And what friendships are, well, not so vital. It wasn’t necessary to look at our relationships and their value…it just happened. It can be said this was one of the few benefits revealed during this challenging time. The pandemic enabled us, really forced us, to appraise our relationships in every sphere of life.

 

The Secrets of Lasting Friendships, David Brooks article in The New York Times, cites Robin Dunbar’s book, Friends. Dunbar is celebrated for his ‘number: 150’. Brooks quotes, “The maximum number of meaningful relationships most people can have is somewhere around 150. How many people are invited to the average American wedding? About 150. How many people are on an average Christmas card list? About 150. How many people were there in early human hunter-gatherer communities? About 150.” Maintaining 150 friendships? That can often seem exhausting.

 

Brooks’ article goes on to reference Jeffrey Hall, an expert in the psychology of friendship, who studied 112 University of Kansas freshman and found it took about 45 hours of presence in another person’s company to move from acquaintance to friend. To move from casual friend to meaningful friend took another 50 hours over a three-month period, and to move into the inner close friend circle took another 100 hours.

 

What do you look for in a friendship? For me, friendship requires reciprocity. By reciprocity I am not referring to a transactional relationship. Where every favor or dinner is matched one-to-one, spontaneity can be crushed, and intimacy compromised. There doesn’t need to be a score keeper. In true reciprocity, a subtle feeling of lightness and ease is present. What commonly exists is a mutual understanding all will work out at some point, or not. No worries.

 

Lauren Mechling writes in her New York Times article, How to End a Friendship, “We are wired to pursue friendship: In the company of our favorite companions, studies have found, our brains release dopamine and oxytocin. The early stages of friendship are their own romance.” Oxytocin is involved in bonding, between lovers–and mothers and their infants. It creates the romance. Dopamine impacts the development of social memories and preference.

 

As in romantic relationships, friendships can indeed end, or have a natural expiration date. Sometimes couples, as well as good friends, can grow apart. It’s helpful to know that when a friendship comes to completion, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Change can be an opportunity. According to Catherine Pearson in her New York Times piece, How Many Friends Do You Really Need? “Three decades ago, 3% of Americans told Gallup pollsters they had no close friends; in 2021, an online poll put it at 12%. A year into the pandemic, 13% of women and 8% of men aged 30 to 49 said they’d lost touch with most of their friends.”

 

As we head into the renewal of the 2022 fall season, it might behoove us to be appreciative and grateful for our lasting friendships, accept they could change, and to welcome cultivating new possibilities.