A couple of years ago, I attended a meditation workshop in New York City. I immediately bonded with the girl I was sitting next to, and we became fast friends. We went to dinner that night and talked for hours. When I came to the city for work, we’d meet up and spend the day together. I met her friends; she met mine. We’d text long rambling updates about our lives. It was like best friends at first sight — until it wasn’t.
Only a few weeks after our meeting, the friendship faded out. Nothing “bad” happened. There was no drama. There were no hurt feelings. We just got distracted, and our lives carried on.
What I didn’t know then was that she and I had already served an important purpose in each other’s lives.
In the weeks we had been talking for hours at a time, we were often talking about just one thing: our recently failed relationships. I had come to realize something important about the trajectory of the relationship I was in at the time. This new friend and I, as it happened, were in nearly identical situations with our ex-boyfriends, left to decide whether we wanted to try again or let go.
The more my friend told me about her relationship, the more I thought she was naive. She was clearly mismatched with her partner and it was time for her to move on. I didn’t see it then, but I realize now that her situation was a mirror of my own, and the advice I wanted to give her was a projection of what I desperately needed to hear myself.
What we are looking for in relationships isn’t really love, it’s familiarity. And the exact same thing applies to friendship.
We hadn’t been drawn to each other by accident; there was a deep, unconscious psychological need we served for one another. And when I reviewed the few other friendships I’d had that had unfolded like this, I noticed an unnerving pattern.