I'm not really keen on the explanations that doseybat suggested in her poll; mystical explanations are generally a cop-out, and reductionist explanations like
depends on biochemistry/physicsdon't really help either. I mean, of course, all human behaviour depends ultimately on biochemistry and even more ultimately on physics, but that's not a useful level of explanation for "how does this particular aspect of human behaviour work?" In this particular case, becoming friends with someone faster than it would seem that you've rationally had time to know enough about them to be able to decide whether you're compatible.
It's such a joy when it happens. I mean, becoming friends with someone is always wonderful, but when it happens really really fast, it's easy to experience it as some kind of externally caused magical thing. I think sometimes it's a case of lowered inhibitions, that you meet someone at a time when you are feeling emotionally vulnerable and need to talk about some dramatic experience, and if you tell a total stranger something quite personal and they listen sympathetically, that can be a very bonding experience. But that's definitely not the whole story. I also don't think it's really connected to sex; instant attraction or even love can happen, but it's a different kind of instant connection from clicking.
The first person I experienced that absolutely amazing very rapid connection with was in fact doseybat, when I was 17 or so. She picked me out of a crowd and told me that she had a sense we would get on. And was she ever right; we just didn't stop talking for hours, and by the end of the couple of days of the conference, I trusted her with the most intimate and private things in my life. Which level of trust and intimacy led to us becoming even closer over the next several months, and the rest is history.
I clicked with MK at around the same time. We were at an Oxford interview together and I knew M would be one of the most important people in my life within hours of first setting eyes on him. The connection between us was so intense that he didn't even notice the woman who later became his wife even though she was, by sheer coincidence, present at the same interview. I did fall in love with MK at one point, but I don't think that was the explanation for how well we got on when we first met.
I fell in love with darcydodo quite literally at first sight. It's something I would never believe could happen if I hadn't experienced it. I think that coup de foudre probably influenced how quickly we became close friends in some ways, but I think there was a kind of click going on as well.
The first time I met loreid, we made no impression on eachother. The second time I was discovering table-top roleplaying for the first time in a game she was GMing. The third time, we clicked. A casual mutual acknowledgement turned into a several hour long conversation by the end of which we were as close as if we'd known eachother for years.
There's one person I clicked with who ended up hating me. So in that sense you could say that the "click" was mistaken. But then we were really good friends for a year before I offended her irrevocably, and I'm reluctant to recast the whole friendship as a negative because of the way it ended.
There are several people who were clearly kindred spirits from very early on in our mutual acquaintance, but whom I met in situations where it was possible to spend plenty of time getting to know eachother, so it seems less entirely inexplicable to have become close so quickly. pseudomonas and I started our continuing and wonderful conversation very soon after first meeting, but it took longer for me to become emotionally close to him. ID and I enjoyed eachother's company from the first, but spent a lot of time together for several weeks. Also he and I did end up dating briefly so perhaps there was an element of (unconscious at first) sexual attraction in how well we got on. lethargic_man similarly. He says that we clicked, but I wouldn't regard it as that. We had lots of fun conversations in the course of living together for a month, and that allowed a friendship to develop more naturally than in some of the other cases. But certainly we did like eachother pretty quickly. I love doseybat's describing us as
like a conversational explosionthough!
On the other hand, I've met quite a lot of colleagues or schoolfriends or whatever who were people I spent lots of time with and we gradually moved from being friendly acquaintances to quite good friends to really close friends. blue_mai for example, as well as my Dundee friends SC and LB. And Spanish M I disliked when I first met her, finding her arrogant. Which turned out to be not so much false as justified. And the miraculous thing was in how close we ended up being, not how fast we got to that situation. hatam_soferet similarly, I didn't really get on with her when we first met, I thought she was rather wet. But once I got to know her I was amazed at how entirely wrong I had been!
I don't quite know how to count people I've got to know through LJ and similar. It's the nature of the medium that relationships don't develop instantaneously. If someone made a really fantastic post or comment, my initial reaction would be to admire their qualities, not to feel any kind of emotional closeness. So the first time I met ajollypyruvate, we got on extremely well, but then again we'd been getting to know eachother via LJ for a while before that meeting. lethargic_man told me so much about how wonderful rysmiel is that I was really anxious about making a good impression. But email and LJ allowed us to discover that we get on really well long before we met in person. In some ways it did seem fast, especially since we were corresponding rather than spending time together, but that still feels like it's mostly on the rationally explicable side of things more than the mysterious side.
Right now I'm in the process of clicking really intensely with ploni_bat_ploni. She very graciously invited me to her Friday night meal last week. I was deeply impressed at her hosting anything at all within less than 24 hours of arriving in the country, and that was a successful dinner party by any standards. It helps that her guests, some of the crowd from Paideia, are a fascinating and delightful bunch of people. I think ploni_bat_ploni is possibly more outgoing than I am, which is pretty unusual. And of course lethargic_man's good reports had primed us to like eachother. We ended up having one of those conversations that are impossible to end and I got home way later than I'd planned. And then ploni_bat_ploni invited me back on Saturday afternoon, along with my friend M, and we talked a whole bunch more.
And this week more or less the same thing, except this time ploni_bat_ploni's Friday night included about 15 guests. Also, we got to the point where we in this little bubble of learning interesting things about eachother and I felt guilty that we were ignoring the rest of the company to an extent that could have been rude. We've spent most of today having more wonderful conversations about every possible topic; got hissed at in shul for talking, which is something I generally avoid doing because it annoys me when other people do it and because I actually do want to concentrate on the prayers, but we just had so much to say to eachother we couldn't shut up for the whole 2 hours of the service! And this afternoon we talked and talked and talked, not quite 10 hours non-stop but not far off. *bounce* Yay ploni_bat_ploni!
In between all this, I've been quite sociable and quite productive at work. This has led to less time for LJ, which is why I've been somewhat silent recently. Hung out with "Milo" on Sunday. He's still courting me, and I still feel like we don't really have all that much to say to eachother, but he's a decent guy and I can't blame him for trying. I think I have convinced him now that I really mean it when I say I don't want to go out with him, but we'll see.
Worky stuff: I have got the microscopy up and running and I'm pretty certain I've seen something interesting and important, though of course I need to see it more than once and run all the checks, this is science after all. But it's satisfying. And I'm just getting going on some traditional biochemistry and generally I'm happier about work stuff than I have been for many weeks. Plus, people are coming back from summer holidays so I'm getting more social interaction and more people around to pester if I can't find things or don't know how to use the equipment or whatever.
This weekend, as well as getting on marvellously well with ploni_bat_ploni, I've been feeling really part of the Jewish community. Lots of little things coming together just right. I went with ploni_bat_ploni to try out the Orthodox shul on Friday night. The atmosphere was the best of what an Orthodox service can be, everyone was both spirited and spiritual, the pacing was just right, the people leading the service did exactly the right amount of giving people guidance without showing off. The Orthodox style doesn't suit me in general, but when it happens in a really great community, it can be wonderful in its own way and last night was an example.
The trouble is that that sense of being in a really prayerful environment isn't happening in the Great Synagogue. Ideologically the community is a good fit for me, and many people have been kind and welcoming and so on. But the services feel overly formal and the congregation is mostly an audience. Undoubtedly, an audience for a highly skilled performance, but I want to be part of a community, not a member of an audience. And today somehow the atmosphere worked a lot better than it has up to now. No organ music, for a start, which is a great bonus from my point of view. Also it was an egalitarian service in practice as well as in name, which does make me feel more comfortable even though I'm surprised that's the case.
Also after the service I found I was chatting to lots of people at a level beyond the polite small talk, and every time I was in a conversation I was getting interrupted by someone who positively wanted to talk to me. And I've been approached to get involved in the traditional Egalitarian sub-group, and the Progressive sub-group. And there are a bunch of old school European intellectual types who have a sort of salon thing Saturday afternoons, and they've taken to inviting me to join them sitting in a very posh café having deep intellectual discussions and generally acting as if we were in pre-war Vienna or something. So yay Jewish community; I can see this is going to work even if it's taken a while to get to this level of comfort.