Social media this morning had a lot of shares of articles with clickbaity headlines like “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?” These shares were usually accompanied by anxious jokes (that vagus nerve in action!), but my feeling upon reading the study was one of relief. The study involved 84 Chinese business undergraduate students aged 23-38. I have been an adult in an undergraduate course and I recognize that there are many reasons why people in that environment would have a lopsided view of one another. Person A frequently asks Person B to explain a concept; Person A probably likes Person B more than the reverse. Person C always smiles as Person B but secretly thinks they’re a know-it-all; Person B only sees the smile and thinks they’re friendly. And so on.
But I’m not feeling relieved because I think the environment in which the study was conducted inherently breeds lopsided relationships; I’m also relieved because I can think of times when I’ve realized my relationships weren’t perfectly reciprocal. A woman I barely remember playing with when we were children recently introduced me to her boyfriend as her childhood best friend. I was incredibly hurt to learn that someone I thought I had been pretty close to couldn’t stand me. And I still feel guilty for not going to a funeral to support someone who had expected me to be there for her. I simply didn’t realize I occupied that place in her life. It’s comforting to know these feelings are universal.
When you’re in the company of someone who truly is a friend, you know. You’re more relaxed and less concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing. You don’t go home and analyze your interactions. When you send them a text that mentions a mutual acquaintance, you don’t worry about them screenshotting it to send to that person. It’s incredibly hard to get to that level with someone, especially in a classroom environment.
The study did change my perception of one thing, however. I used to detest the way Facebook throws around the word “friends” when most of the people on our lists are acquaintances. Now I realize it’s probably kinder that way.
Some cozy things I liked today:
Cooking video of the day: Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
Cute kitten of the day:
Long read of the day: The Washington post has an article about homeowners building second homes on their lots, either for relatives or to rent–and the lawsuits being filed by their neighbors