Feeling Known and Noticed

Recently, as I walked to meet a good friend for lunch in New York, I noticed myself feeling unusually relaxed and peaceful. About halfway into our lunch my friend said, "You know, you seem more relaxed than usual." He read my body language well.

It is an observation that draws upon a historical data set, as "relaxed" is a relative term. It made sense: I've known him for seven years. I do not have many close friends who I have known for more than 4-5 years.

Later the next night, at a burrito place, he mentioned I always order steak or pork when I select a meat option in restaurants. This is true. I ate so much chicken growing up that I never order it as my meat of choice. Meanwhile, I noticed he was wearing a new shirt, and we both noticed our mutual friend of seven years was wearing new shoes.

These are trivial examples, but the point is this: noticing slight changes in a person's behavior, appearance, or state-of-mind requires knowing the person well and over a long period of time.

And it is very satisfying to feel known and noticed.

Time. It heals all wounds, wounds all heels, and more than anything else drives intimacy in relationships.

7 comments on “Feeling Known and Noticed
  • Part of this is also the fact that you do not see the person every day. We tend not to notice such things as much when we are in regular contact.

  • I think noticing one’s new shirt, new pair of shoes and other accessories tells more about the kind of relationship as well. If you attach more of a social undertone to the relationship and are in contact often, you will never miss one thing that instantly alters your image of him/her. You are actually attempting to benchmark him/her, trying to correlate in some way.

    But if you’re intellectually spurred into it, it’s the course of opinions and variations in philosophies underlying his/her thought process that gets noticed than cosmetic exterior.

  • I don’t think time heals *all* wounds- you have to put the work in, and work requires time. And the more intimate the relationship, the more work it takes, and the more likely it is you’re going to feel wounded sometime.

  • I don’t think noticing behavioral patterns takes a “long” period time (I think you’ve made this observation yourself in recognizing words people use most often)

    I also don’t think time increases intimacy. Open and honest communication does. Some people become more open and honest with time but “time” is not the primary driver.

  • I would say time is necessary but not sufficient for intimacy. You can know
    someone for a year and not be intimate. But you can’t be intimate if you’ve
    only known someone for two weeks, unless those two weeks you spent 24/7 in a
    POW camp or something.

  • Ben: On an older post of yours, I had commented about symmetry of commitment. The same thing applies to close friendships and intimacy. If there is complete symmetry, then time does not matter. If there isn’t, well, time does not matter.

    People can only develop closeness/ intimacy if they are willing. We often reveal more of ourselves to people we like, and who reciprocate our liking with equal (in our assessment) zest than we do to people who may like us but whom we do not like (we file them under “creeps”).

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