I’m sure there are really moving biochemical explanations or manipulative marketing schemes that quantify and model this phenomenon to ends that satisfy both biologists and marketing consultants. But, what about when you don’t have the ability to collect all the data points necessary for a biological model (pheromone levels, body language, and other environmental factors) or to develop a strategy to foster closeness between yourself and another. The idea that we unconsciously realize these signals and compile them intuitively in order to determine the potential closeness we can realize with another really titillates me.
I’m intrigued by how much control we have in the meaningfulness of our interactions with another. There are an overwhelming amount of circumstantial factors that could possibly overload the common ideas we have about what makes a good relationship (I’m talking about the stuff we perceive ourselves to have control over, like conversations). I’m curious – does it matter what we say? What we do? Do we (can we) have any control over how well we’ll mesh with someone?
Over the past week, I had two different experiences that made me ruminate on human closeness. The underlying similarity: I felt some new closeness. The distinction: an insincere representation of myself vs. a genuine representation.
The first was over Halloweekend. My friend and I dressed as a duo costume – a 1950s couple – a business executive and a housewife. We concocted an elaborate story about our relationship and created fictional pasts and names for ourselves. I want to focus on the relationships between my friend and I as fictional characters and other party goers. Funny conversations, fun music, etc. – there was a communal atmosphere of closeness in the people I interacted with. I felt the vibe, and it was dependent on the people I’d recently met. The troubling part was that I really wasn’t sharing any true information (verbally) about myself … yet there was some type of meaningful relationship.
The other instance was at an Interfaith Action Dialogue dinner, where a group of students interested in inter-faith issues talk about certain topics. The topic this week asked us to explain our spiritual and personal journey to where we were in our lives and why we’re at this specific dialogue. People’s stories were beautiful. I found myself leaning towards others who shared similar experiences and interpretations of events, and when it was my turn to share my story, pulling at the deeper parts of my conceptualization of myself … well … interestingly, I felt a similar closeness to this group of people that I’d felt at the Halloween party.
I want to put forth this interpretation: there is some amount of pre-determination and hardly controllable guiding forces that led me to these group interactions, and the closeness I felt with others had little to do with what I said or how I presented myself. (Perhaps, those actions were also a part of the larger controlled superstructure of human interactions.) This is a really, really gross compilation of my experiences with others, but I do feel that there’s some truth to the idea that we really don’t decide who’ll we’ll be friends with or why.
Do you have counterexamples? Share your thoughts.
By: Lexie Tourek
(Photo courtesy of sxc.hu)