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Are friendships that start like a wildfire good for my health?

Karen R Koenig
Psychology

Sometimes you meet someone and you get on like a house on fire. You’re on the phone with each other every free minute, can’t wait ’til the next time you get together, and feel as if your life has changed just by knowing each other. The feeling is infatuation, similar to what you experience with a lover or someone you’re romantically interested in. You think your instant buddy is special, one in a million, and she feels the same way; such a sensation is heady and exciting. Often, these wildfires burn down to a steady low flame and you continue to warm each other’s hearts for years to come. The mutuality, pleasure, sharing, and interdependence deepen and you’ve made a friend for life. When I say, “Lucky you!” I mean it; close friends are an absolute treasure.

However, sometimes the initial blaze masks relational dysfunction, an unconscious need for each other that isn’t healthy. You’re swept up in your friend’s tragic life story and see yourself as her savior; she requires a great deal of attention and you become her salvation. Actually, the motivations of relationship are not generally this clear (unless you’re someone who reflects a great deal on her behavior). Things just feel right (that is, familiar): Your urge to take care of what’s frail and fragile intersects with your friend’s need to be taken care of. The fit feels perfect, but it’s all wrong.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.