I have this theory about couples. I think they come in two varieties: Carbon copies or perfect complements.
Some romantic duos are pretty similar. They can seem like male and female (or male and male, female and female… you get it) versions of the same person. There are differences, obviously, but more or less they are pretty similar. Values, demeanor, all that.
Then there are couples who, individually, seem so different. She’s the responsible rock to his kooky joker. He’s the quiet homebody to her social butterfly. But they fit together like puzzle pieces, making one complete picture.
I’m told Matt and I are the former variety. It’s true. Sure, we have distinct personalities, but in the end we’re pretty similar. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been together, more or less, since we were 19 (which is, um, completely insane when I think about it), and thus have grown up side-by-side. But I’d argue it’s always been the case. We’re just two peas in a pod…. or something less cheesy and Sesame Street sounding.
I’m wondering if BFFs follow the same pattern. In all the writing and researching I’ve done about best friends, I still haven’t figured out what it is that connects people in that we’re-in-it-for-the-long-haul sense. Sure, there are specific factors that contribute to two people clicking—proximity, vulnerability, similarity, resonance, and safe place—but these are simply accelerators. They’re circumstances that help foster friendship. But what is it that makes two people perfect for each other? Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together?
Social researchers believe in the birds of a feather theory. Similar backgrounds, careers, hobbies or interests bring people together. We favor the in-group. But I’m talking on a more personality-based level. Let’s say a group of us love The Biggest Loser and The Office, singing showtunes, and Jeff Probst. Hypothetically. If those similarities are already established, which of us will still be friends in a few years? The two party animals? Or will the studious responsible one befriend the spontaneous adventure-seeker? That’s how it always happens in the movies right? (See: Something Borrowed, Now and Then, Beaches.)
I wish there were an easy answer. It would make this whole search much easier. In my experience of meeting new people, plenty of those I was sure would be BFFs ended up falling off the radar. While some who seemed nice-enough-but-nothing-special upon first meeting have become close pals. I know part of it is due to consistency and proximity, but what is there between us that makes us like each other? It’s the question of the ages, I guess.
Think about your BFFs. In which category do they fall: Carbon copy or perfect complement?