Have you ever wondered what attracted you to your best friend or spouse? Do you try to analyze why you just can’t stand being in the same room with a particular co-worker? Isn’t it strange how you would do anything for one of your supervisors, but go out of your way to avoid doing something for another?

I’ll admit I have a degree in psychology so I’m probably overthinking this, but you have to admit relationships are quite mysterious. Experts claim hormones and pheromones are the culprits. They say humans communicate through odors. Certainly odors are important to my dog—she sniffs everything.

According to Wikipedia—the internet’s Encyclopedia Britannica—this pheromone thing works for many species (humans, bees, plants, etc.). In addition, there are actually different pheromones affecting behavior or physiology. Check it out at or

But, even so, what explains the degree of attraction or repulsion we experience for some individuals? And why are those attractions and repulsions often mutual? Can it be as simple as the scientific explanation of pheromones and hormones?

What about Kismet, fate, karma? And let’s not forget those really deep blue eyes. Somehow a scientific explanation makes life seem more like a lab experiment. In my opinion there’s more happening. Our relationships are too complex and varied to be reduced to chemical reactions.

Relationships change over time but can also remain the same “forever” even across many miles—beyond the “smell factor.” We have many both special and horrifying relationships throughout our lives—some we remember gladly, some we’d rather forget.

Age and social status does not necessarily matter. Take the two friends drawn to each other at random–89 year old Erling Kindem & 3 year old neighbor Emmet Rychner who have been in the news for a couple of years. Check it out at

Consider the unlimited variables and sequences of events that connect us to others. The intensity of a relationship can vary with age; a best friend in the first grade is as serious, but not necessarily as long-lasting as a best friend later in life. In addition, an individual can bounce between and span categories. And don’t forget relatives. Cousins, siblings, even in-laws can play in the mix as well.

Think about how convoluted it all is as you peruse this sample along the relationship continuum:

  1. Social acquaintance: casual, friendly, or familiar sharing only part of ourselves with each other—maybe a smile or a nod in the hallway or at the mall
  2. Co-workers: peers, superiors, inferiors, bosses, or employees working as competitors or teammates or a combination, perhaps sharing some personal information with a chosen few
  3. Friend: individual with whom you are comfortable, share respect and similar values, but with limited social interaction beyond what draws you together—job, club, activity, hobby
  4. Good friend: individual with whom you have a mutual like, trust, respect, and similar values and with whom you socialize often and participate in one or more activities of a common interest, perhaps sharing a great deal of personal information
  5. Best friend: limited to one or—if you’re lucky—a few individuals with whom you are mutually supportive and share your more-personal information, even secrets; you have each other’s backs
  6. Romantic partner: individual with whom you share a dating or spousal relationship who probably—but not necessarily—fits into the “best friend” category as well.

1 thought on “Relationships

  1. christine guise

    Wow Beth this is really thought provoking. Why do some new acquaintances give us the creeps and some we want to know better. I am guilty of snap decisions about people I meet. Sometimes my first impressions are wrong… but not often. I have learned to appreciate my first impression instincts and to carry on in a guarded capacity by not sharing too much. Several years ago we spent 15 months living in Hawaii. I know that sounds wonderful but there are so many cultures meshing customs and values into a society that I was a stranger trying to fit in. Nothing was the same as growing up in the mid-west. We bought a home in Pahoa. A quaint old plantation town away from the glitz and touristy trappings. The neighbors I knew were mainlander transplants just like us. It never did feel like home. And I never did get to know or understand the other cultures. Native Hawaiians did not want us there.
    My neighbor started a writers group and I join her. We would sit on a café balcony overlooking Pahoa. One morning we followed drops of blood into the café from the night before. We tried not to think much of it because … it was Pahoa. It’s like a wild west town where old hippies roam. Just sitting on the balcony overlooking the wooden sidewalks and people watching was an experience I cherish.

    I wandered away from your topic but your essay made me think… too much maybe.



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s