It takes a hundred hours to be more than a casual friend and two hundred hours to become good friends with someone. That is what I read some time ago in one of those reports that seem to catch my eye whenever I open the newspaper or scroll through discoveries, experiments and other titbits regarding relationships.
Naturally, instead of just tossing aside that report and going about business as usual, I started counting my friends on my fingers and then counting the hours we had spent together before we became firm friends — and then the hours we had spent together as friends.
27% of millennials claim they have no close friends and 22% say they have no friends, I wonder why I am concerned about how long I should have interacted with someone before I can consider them a “true” friend and why I over-think relationships
It was while my head was still spinning with all the calculations involved that one of my “firm” friends introduced me to someone else in her circle, a friend she had recently grown close to thanks to the joining of their families and the consequent shared experiences with the many family festivities we Indians seem to think are mandatory for relatives on “both sides” to attend.
The two of them were comfortable with each other and it did not take me long to feel the same. It helped that we were on a fortnight’s trip to the Northeast of India and were locked inside a car together for hours, sharing our snacks, exclaiming at Nature’s bounty around us, and enjoying titbits from each of our lives.
There was constant chatter and so much in common in that vehicle that by the end of the trip — definitely more than a hundred waking hours all told — we had arrived at a closeness that was the envy of the rest of the group, travelling in three different cars.
It all seemed so easy — and I paid no attention to the other articles that said it is not easy to share confidences and risk affection and make really firm friends after one crosses the age of 25.
Here were we, all of us on the cusp of serious senior citizenship, and confidences just spilt out, secrets of mischief and mayhem in our youth (which we had probably not shared with anyone at the time because of embarrassment), just popped out into the open and no one was shocked and “old” friends were not offended that we had not come clean earlier!
When we all returned home to our routines after the trip, we did not break contact, as we might have in the old days of snail mail. Instead, we enjoyed the instant gratification of WhatsApp, offers of unlimited calls by telecom companies and other social contact aids and we continued to meet virtually without missing a beat in our banter or in our sharing of confidences.
Especially in times such as these, when we are more or less confined to the house, our day brightens when we share what we are going through and understand how the other is coping and even if we have missed out on knowing each other during a large chunk of our middle years, these “recent” friendships make even the most difficult days bearable.
And when I find other newspaper reports that say 27% of millennials claim they have no close friends and 22% say they have no friends, I wonder why I am concerned about how long I should have interacted with someone before I can consider them a “true” friend and why I over-think relationships and wonder whether the people in my life can be neatly slotted into a graded compartment in my heart only for the long-term tried and tested?
Shouldn’t I instead be thankful that I have the comfort of friends, I have someone to share ideas and experiences and happy and sad moments with — and shouldn’t I hope that the years ahead will strengthen the bonds, however “short” and fragile I imagine they are now?
Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.