"If you believe in love at first sight, you'll never stop looking"
Are we close friends? As with all vague notions, there is no metric with which I can measure the distance between us. I can't say that we're close friends because of reasons A, B, C... and so on. I certainly can't claim we're close friends because we see each other more often than others within our circle (well, outside my circle, there are friends who're indeed closer).
Can I build criteria? I think I've tried:
1. How often do we see each other a week?
2. What is the amount of time we spent exclusively in each other's company?
3. When we need to confide / talk, how often do we think of calling each other?
4. Are we... just friends? Or is there some other underlying attraction?
5. If so, is this what close friends do, or is this because other emotions are at play?
6. Have we fought?
7. How did we make up after that?
8. Do you love me? Does that still make us close friends, or something worse?
Vague notions and vague answers at best - when something as tenuous as a friendship needs to be defined along quantitative measures, what does one make of it?
I have a friend - close enough, but not close enough to touch rub my emotions raw - who is very good at one thing: she is good at asking questions. She asks questions relentlessly, and her style of presentation is to shoot questions at her audience, make them ponder, and rattle off more questions in quick succession. The questions always demand an answer, and the way that it is asked, the answers are proffered in no small measure. The questions are always good, but the answers to them always seem to invite her to probe more, like a hungry unsatiated hippo (eating up those balls... hehe... pardon the slight digression into the 80s).
But although she asks questions well, she doesn't seem to give answers. It is a one-sided relationship: she asks the questions, you give the answers. And there's no point in asking questions of her because she doesn't have answers. Or it might be that the answers she's collected, she's keeping them for herself, unwilling or unable to share them. Perhaps she cannot distill the answers she hoards into something that someone else can understand. So the questions always come flying, but the answers don't. And in such a relationship, the answerer always feel drained, like he's being sucked dry of knowledge without any replenishment in return.
"Ask and it shall be given unto you" but can one ask incessantly? Very unchristianly behaviour to be expecting reciprocity on this account, but one can't help feeling like he isn't getting a fair bargain.
"If you believe in love at first sight... take a closer look"
You must be wondering, do I have a point to all this? Like with all good things, I'm getting to my point - in my fashion.
I think that, with regards to how close a friendship really is, one can only ask vague questions of oneself and invite unwillingly qualitative answers. As with my inquisitive friend, the questions one can ask only invite further questions, until such a point when no answers can be elicited.
A close friendship cannot be one without some measure of attraction (my opinion). At some base level, one has to be attracted to the other - with same-sex friends, it doesn't necessarily mean you're gay. The attraction has to be of a kind where one finds a quality in the other that one desires, whether it be that the other is beautiful, or smart, or in possession of some such attribute.
The thing is, the level of attraction cannot exceed a certain (vague) point - beyond that (vague) point, it tilts towards something more akin to attraction and liking, where one party comes to desire the other. When Desire plays the matchmaker, that friendship isn't close anymore: it is means to an end, that end being one of desire, and at its most debased, lust.
A close friendship does not need frequent contact, nor does it need two people to spend any significant amount of time with each other (again, my opinion). In fact, when two people spend too much time with each other, it's more likely they will end up detesting the other, finding each other's bad habits beyond reproach and letting familiarity breed contempt.
Time apart from each other allows room in which one can grow, and change in ways that only a close friend can appreciate. Being in frequent contact means the subtle changes go unnoticed, and that is always a loss to the unobservant one.
Finally, getting closer doesn't mean one should not fall in love with the other: it just means that such emotions need to be embraced and expressed - with much grace and some acceptance of the fact that the friendship might not be the same thereafter. Never, ever, bottle up your emotions - when one does, the time will come when emotions burst forth in a torrent and there will be no way to pretend one never felt them.
And when it comes to that point, can one remain close?
George Michael sings it thus, and it speaks for me: 'I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye.'
"Those who love at first sight are traitors at every glance"
1. Quotes in italics were taken from taglines for the movie Closer (2004).
2. Hungry Hungry Hippos is one of those meaningless games from the 80s. You take the lever of one of 4 hippos and manoeuvre it to 'eat' as many balls as possible. The player with the most balls eaten wins.
3. The George Michael song? That line's taken from the song 'Last Christmas' by Wham!