Finding your sweet spot for quality time with your friends (not covid related)
The saying “Two’s a company, three’s a crowd” usually refers to romantic relationships. But what about friendships? Does the same hold true? I love one-on-one time with my friends. Spending time with two or more friends is also nice. Which is better, you might ask. It depends on the friend, the relationship, how deep it is. There are some friendships that formed in threes, and it would be strange to meet one-on-one. Some friendships started out as one-on-one, if you add a third, a whole new dynamic takes place.
I sort of like four. Four allows enough chatter, and usually no awkward pauses. You can also “break off” into twos, and no one feels left out while you can still be part of the larger conversational group. In threes, you can get, what Bowen would call, triangulation. Two people unconsciously or consciously align, and the third person either has to make peace amongst them or stay aloof.
I had one friend with whom I used to spend time alone. In those meetings, sometimes she seemed anxious and depressed, but when you added two or three other people into the mix, she became daring, adventurous, talkative. I wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she her “real self” when we were together, and faking it when others were around? Or was I actually dragging her mood down?
I think this begs the question. What are friends for? My definition of friends is not just to “pass the time” and make merry, as they used to say. I do realize there are layers of friendship. Some friends, who are a dime a dozen, can talk with you about anything and everything. They know when to give you space, and when to show up. They can talk with you about the hard stuff. They trust you enough to be honest with you. If you have a friend that agrees with everything you do or say, run! It’s impossible (and unhelpful) to agree with someone all the time.
Friends push you to be better. Some “friends” just don’t want to be alone, so they use you like a filler in a stocking, to add some cheer even if it is short-lived. There’s a place for this, too. Sometimes you just want to sit together over a meal, or a dessert, and fill the talk with, “So, how are you? How’s your job?” But friendships should…