Monday, May 24, 2010

What Really Matters In Relationships?

When you discover someone new through their blog, you can easily find out a lot about the abstract ideals that they feel strongly about. However, you might not have much information about the little things- where they live, how they dress, what their first language is or what kind of accent they have.

The opposite is true for the people you first meet in person. You have lots of information available to you about the little things- they're well dressed- but little to no information about the big things- after the banter about the weather you probably have no clue what their outlook on life is.

New friendships can develop from both of these kinds of encounters and most people would say that the ones founded on the big things would be stronger. While I generally agree, I think that the big things alone aren't the full story. The power of the little things is often underestimated. Whether you like it or not, you are influenced by them- and definitely not necessarily in correct proportion to the big things.

I've often wondered about what would happen if you brought a bunch of people connected through their blogs- meaning they'd never met in person before- and put them all together in close quarters.  Would they all gel together because of the abstract values they share? Or would personal quirks- the little things- get in the way of group coherence in spite of their agreement on higher ideals?

Would one person's potty mouth be a dealbreaker for someone else? Would one not be able to stand another's attitudes towards alcohol or drugs? Would the way one person speaks grind on the nerves of the others until they couldn't stand it anymore? Would sleep patterns or lack of cleanliness drive other people crazy? Would the age gap between people affect their relationship? Even though the big things form the roots for strong relationships, the relatively little things do have the power to break them.

Conventional friendships are created based on the little things- in a room full of people you've never met, you gravitate towards the people who seem similar to yourself- and the only information that you have to make that assessment is the information on the little things. What if you took all the people in the room and had them interact relatively anonymously, in writing, online? Here you have a very different set of information available to you about the other people and you probably wouldn't gravitate to the same people as you did in person.

Relationships are built on a certain combination of the big things and the little things. How important are the big things compared to the little things in your relationships?

This touches on a similar theme as my previous post: When It Hits The Fan

1 comment:

  1. Wow very true, never thought of it as the distinction that you made at the beginning. I think that with me, a lot of the best connections are made online and then they transition to offline. That way I know their values are correct, and the idiosyncrasies don't bother me as much. If I go the other way, however, I will judge them immediately based on their little nuances (wrong i know) and not give them a chance. it's an interesting concept.