When I think of what attracts me to a person, the only common factor I can find is confidence. It doesn’t matter what they look like, what their experiences have been, what their heritage is, how social (or not) they are, how intelligent they are, or how much we have in common. Across the board, my closest friends have been the ones who are neither cocky nor needy. They don’t need to be aggressive, but they’ll be as assertive it takes. They stand up for their beliefs, but don’t overpower people with them either. And they certainly aren’t clingy (I can’t stand clingy behavior). They have a wonderful balanced feel that makes them easy to get along with.
That’s exactly what attracted me to Panda when I first met him. He was comfortable with himself – he knew he was good at what he does, he didn’t feel self-conscious, and he didn’t go around seeking validation. He walked with a strut that was not quite peacocking, but let his presence be known. He didn’t feel embarrassed to laugh at himself when he goofed up. He didn’t sit around worrying about what perception others had of him. He just went out and did what he is amazing at, like being an engineer, managing things, researching, and planning.He didn’t even want or need a relationship when we met. He was perfectly happy with how his life was. Maybe that’s exactly what I liked. The time we spent together was not because he was dependent on me to make him feel good about himself or to have something to do with his time; we made time for each other because we wanted to be in each other’s company. I don’t do well when I feel suffocated in a relationship (romantic or platonic) and perhaps I feel so far more readily than most. But when someone wants to see me every moment of every day (or even every day, really), that’s when I feel claustrophobic. I once had a roommate like that, who tried to join me on almost all of my social activities, clinging to me and my friends. I didn’t mind inviting her to some events and having her tag along here and there, but every single time got to be too much.
I must get it from my family’s lifestyle. We don’t see each other much: my parents and I see each other about twice a year (or in passing when we lived together), my relatives in China and I see each other once every few years for a few days, and even Panda and I are often separated by thousands of miles (generally for a week at a time). In these types of arrangements, you need to have the confidence to carry on your own life when others are not around and not a constant presence. While I don’t think you should “need” anyone as an adult, it sure is good to want certain people. If the reasons you spend time with them are because you like them and you get along well, it’s far more rewarding than because you feel obligated or guilty to do so. I certainly don’t want to get stuck in those situations, where the connection isn’t genuine. Why waste each other’s* time?
*On a side note, I totally went off on a grammar rule tangent with each other’s vs. each others’ (there seems to be a slight consensus that the first case is accurate, but my spell check indicates I should check it… alas, you get the point).