Research has long shown that three conditions are essential for forming strong friendships:
- Close proximity
- Regular, unplanned interactions
- An environment that allows for vulnerability
This is why so many friendships form in school — it's a recipe for each of these ingredients. It's also why our social lives were thrown into such disarray by the pandemic. Zoom doesn't exactly encourage any of these elements.
The third condition is the most intangible and perhaps the most important. When we give ourselves grace and the freedom to be imperfect, we're able to be authentic with others.
The strongest relationships form through increasing levels of reciprocated vulnerability. This means someone has to go first and confide in the other, without knowing if their gesture will be returned.
But the reward for that courage can be a genuine connection: someone who is thrilled to see you for who you are, and equally comfortable letting you cherish them.