‘We had become two little lighted lamps … saying to each other, you exist’

Do you remember the moment you met each of your closest friends? Patti Miller has one such memory. The author was on a train, and something clicked between her another girl – instantaneously – as if the same neural pathways were lighting up.

We had become two little lighted lamps, Miller says. We were kind of saying to each other, you exist. And we also say that the world exists: we agree that this is what the world looks like, with each other.

Miller was speaking as a guest on the latest episode of Good Weekend Talks, which looks at friendship. If there’s one thing the past two years has taught us, it’s the importance – and fragility – of friendships. And the science around this most fundamental of life forces, including who we click with, and why, is the subject of our featured story this week, The friend zone.

Miller examined that topic, along with the pain of losing a friend – that person with whom we share a common gaze on the world – in her new memoir, True Friends. She points to some of the earliest notions of friendship, including the ancient story of Gilgamesh. He became a corrupt ruler, and the gods decided he needed a correction, so they created for him a companion. And that friend would be his second self, his reflection: stormy heart for stormy heart. To me, that summed up so many things about what a friend was.

Hosting this discussion – which also explores the growing body of scientific knowledge about how and why we bind to one another – is Good Weekend senior writer, Amanda Hooton. Research is showing that when you’re with a friend, it actually affects your heart rate, your blood pressure, your immune system – all those things are improved, says Hooton. Your sleep. Your mental health. Those who have close friendships live longer, and have better reproductive results.

Hooton points out that there is even research suggesting Miller’s experience of lamps lighting up in unison is not so far from the truth. One study found that you could predict close friends by mapping brainwave reactions to an unrelated sequence of video clips. We talk about being on the same wavelength as our friends, and that sense of really clicking together, Hooton says. And it literally is like that, which I found wonderful proof of best-friendship, really.

Good Weekend Talks offers readers the chance to delve even deeper each week into Good Weekend’s most intriguing stories, with lively insight from writers, editors and experts. Listen to more episodes by subscribing to Good Weekend Talks wherever you get your podcasts.

For the full feature story, see Saturday’s Good Weekend, or visit , and .

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