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Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief. ~ Swedish Proverb

The Intensity Factor of Friendships

Friendship Phenomena #1: The Intensity Factor

I love my friends. Why? Because I’m selfish. I want tons of joy and happiness, and my friends offer an endless supply of each.

Is this because my friends are special? Well, yes, they are special; but no, this is not why or how they offer endless joy and happiness. This comes from friendship itself. Not the Hallmark card kind, though cards are perfectly lovely tokens of appreciation, but the “I’ll key your car if you break my best friend’s heart” variety. These are the friendships that bring intensity to our lives, shake things up even while grounding us in our best authentic selves, hold the mirror steady when we lose sight of ourselves.

What is the Intensity Factor?

Dogs sharing a stick in friendship

When I’m with my friends, everything – including me – is more: More interesting, more exciting, more urgent, doable, joyful, hopeful, exuberant. Jokes are funnier, skies are sunnier; we are smarter, crazier, louder, angrier, braver.

You know when something strikes you as amusing when you’re alone, but it’s freaking hilarious when you share it with friends? Take cat videos. Like this one. I watched it and laughed out loud and maybe even snorted once. I sent it to my BFF because it reminded me of her sibling tiger cats. She emailed me back howling, which prompted me to watch it again. It was five times funnier with her laughter in my head.

Conversely, when something irritates me, and I tell a friend about it, I’m whipped into a storm-city-hall frenzy. Not much gets me wound up (actually, that may be untrue), but when it does, I tend to let it simmer. If a friend shows up during the simmering phase, however, she’s the salt that brings me to a boil. Fast.

Then there is the breaker-tripping power generated when three or more friends are gathered in a confined space. When The Girls, my BFFs from high school, get together for our annual Girls Weekend, we need hearing protection and body armor. We feed off each other, our voices rising like the tide and crashing like a tsunami, arms flailing, fingers poking, with lots of clapping and shrieking, fist slamming and thigh slapping. It’s full contact conversation covering every topic imaginable, yelling above the roar of Jo’s blender, arguing with our mouths full of pizza, holding raucous court with margarita glasses in hand.

We are intense.

Intense Women Avengers
Source: Josh at Fan Art Exhibit

When we are with our friends, we thrum at ten times the person we are in our daily grind. Friendships provide a conduit to transcending our existence, making the mundane meaningful, the frustrating manageable, the impossible reachable – destiny, even.

Friends bring out the best in us because they bring out all of us.

How is this so? We will explore this over the next several posts. In the meantime, observe this intensity factor in your own friendships.

And tell me about it!

Girl friends smiling and playing
Source: Flickr Partnership Foundation

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