I had a friend who I used to hang out with almost every day. Problem was, as the time passed by, I started to get more and more annoyed with him.
Well, he tended to talk a lot and wasn’t a very good listener. Over time, I started prioritizing other friends. Finally, it came to the point where I stopped returning his calls. (I still feel bad because of that, and I know that I should have tried to bring the issue up with him first.)
In either case, this must mean that hanging out with a friend every day is bad for the friendship, right?
Well, fast forward to the co-living place I live in now. There’s a guy here who I’ve hung out with every single day for 10 months. Seeing each other every day has had the opposite effect from my previous example: Spending all this time together has turned us into really good friends.
Behavioral science gives us the answer.
For a friendship to develop, two people need to spend a lot of time together. This explains why most of our friends are those we’ve at some point spent a lot of time with. Classmates, work colleagues, and so on.
But there’s another factor that comes into play: RAPPORT.
My friendship with the guy who was a bad listener deteriorated as we spent time together because we didn’t have rapport.
My friendship with the guy in the co-living grew stronger the more we were exposed to each other because we had great rapport. And this leads us to the friendship-time principle:
TIME x RAPPORT = FRIENDSHIP
This equation tells us that as long as our rapport is positive, our friendship improves over time. However, if our rapport is negative, our friendship deteriorates over time.
Most people think that rapport is just about mirroring someone’s body language. That’s just a tiny fraction of what it’s about. Here’s an excellent explanation of rapport, written by SocialPro’s own B. Sc of Human Development Amanda Haworth.
Do you have friendships that have improved over time, and do you have friendships that have deteriorated? I’m interested to hear your story in the comments!