I have never had difficulty making circumstantial friendships. The kinds of relationships where you can have a relaxed meal or drink together. Or you can enjoy each others company in the context of some shared activity. But the spectrum of friendly relationships is far wider than this.
I have found that I need a wide range of connections to feel at home. When I lived in community at Loyola Hall I found I missed the casual connections of acquaintances. As I didn’t go to a parish or do regular shopping or belong to any kind of club there was no one in the vicinity who even recognised me as a neighbour. I didn’t know those kinds of connections were important to me. I didn’t know that a brief acknowledgement of recognition by a variety of people helps me feel connected.
At the other end of the spectrum are a very small number of powerful relationships. These are the relationships which are entirely mutual. In these relationships I know that the existential of the friendship makes a substantial difference to both of us. At different times we each play the role of supporting and being supported. I will certainly go to great lengths to nurture and sustain these connections.
I have never regarded myself as being ‘social’ and for many years in my adolescence and early adulthood I wasn’t sure I was capable of having significant relationships. So for me the existence of these few substantial connections is something of a surprise and an incredible joy. On of the joys of modern technology has been these relationships can be easily maintained even though we live in different parts of the world.
We humans are social creatures and we thrive in quality relationships. But quality connections don’t happen by accident – they require a bit of nurturing and intentional effort, before the glue of the mutual connection takes hold. In the same way, the casual acquaintances only develop when you keep showing up in the same place with some regularity.
I have learnt that it is worth risking investing in relationships which appear to be promising. The benefit of establishing a connection far outweighs the risk of getting hurt. But be prepared to invest for a good while, quality relationships need time to develop.