We all know that we need friends, but there is still much to learn about how we form social connections. There are several theories about how we move from stranger to acquaintance to friend to best friend. We start making friends early in life and continue to do so in virtually every setting in which we function. But the gift of a new and genuine friend can happen in a million different ways. You may gain a friend when moving into a new apartment building; while striking up a conversation with someone who shares your regular jogging path; or simply from smiling and engaging a friendly face at the supermarket or post office.
The Phenomenon of Clicking
We also sometimes experience the near-magical phenomenon of moving from strangers to best friends in almost no time at all. It’s called the “click phenomenon.” Years of qualitative study of friendship routines have found that when asked to describe current best friends and the evolution of those relationships, many people respond that that they just “knew” they would be best friends with the person, almost from the moment they first met. It turns out that there may really be a form of instant recognition at work in these cases.
And although they may have only recently met, such best friends often describe the “click phenomenon” as generating a sense of having known each other for years. They instantly “get” one another and feel a deep connection neither can easily explain. But that’s okay with them. While most often friendships can be traced through the gradual development of shared experiences and self-disclosure, friendships that spontaneously ignite appear at least equally likely to bond people together.
So keep your eyes open and a smile ready. Be open to speaking to others as you go through your daily routine and you might just discover the best friend for life you never knew you had.