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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Instant Bonding

Here’s what I don’t get from the book I reviewed in the previous post. Druckerman says that you can’t find in Paris the kind of instant bonding between women that you have in the US. I’ve lived in different parts of the East Coast and the Midwest. I’ve seen no instant bonding ever. In my experience, it takes Americans and Canadians a very long time to warm up to people and make them part of their lives. I always thought it was part of the culture and welcomed it because back in Ukraine everybody is very unapologetically intrusive and I’m tired of that. 

As I shared before, here in the Midwest people take their fear of bonding to new heights. Smiling at a fellow parent at daycare, the store or the music class results in people looking terrified and trying to flee the room. I’m not wearing a Ukrainian national headdress, so this can’t be because they dislike immigrants. 

This is why I’m so confused by Druckerman’s description of meetings with Americans when personal information is immediately revealed and private stuff is actively discussed. Hispanic people are like that, sure, but Americans?

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10 thoughts on “Instant Bonding

  1. “I’m so confused by Druckerman’s description of meetings with Americans when personal information is immediately revealed”

    If she’s talking about Americans meeting abroad (especially in non-English speaking countries), then yes, they can get a lot more personal and familiar a lot faster than would be normal in the US itself.

    I wouldn’t call it ‘bonding’ though which makes me think her idea of ‘bonding’ in the US is more like the shallow friendships that Americans spealize in (nb ‘shallow’ is not judgemental but descriptive).

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  2. Shakti on said:

    She either edited out the description of taking months to warm up to people or people in expat communities react very differently than people at home (due in part to culture shock). They probably spend a lot of time bonding over being Americans in France. Plus the kind of Americans happy to hang out in Paris for years on end are very different than typical Midwesterners or Canadians. None of this is deep, though.

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    • She says that in the US you go to the playground and immediately make friends with everybody. I’ve never seen that but who knows.

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      • “She says that in the US you go to the playground and immediately make friends with everybody. I’ve never seen that but who knows.”

        -I’ve never seen that, either. The only time I’ve seen anything like that (and then, only with one or two people), is in elementary and perhaps middle school. But then, that seems to be pretty rare. I know sometimes there can be a connection soon after meeting someone, but I definitely wouldn’t call it bonding. In college sometimes friendships can form quickly, but that’s often between roommates or suitemates in the dorms who are encouraged by the dorm administrators to spend a lot of time together in the first few weeks. And that’s still not necessarily going to turn into a real friendship. The people who do manage it are very few and far between.

        That doesn’t mean people aren’t friendly–I’ve been lucky to have found places where people are friendly and helpful on a fairly regular basis. But from your description of the Midwest, Clarissa, that looks like it’s not everywhere, either. And being friendly toward someone hardly constitutes as “instant bonding.”

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        • “sometimes there can be a connection soon after meeting someone, but I definitely wouldn’t call it bonding”

          A lot of words referring to emotional relationships get pretty blanched of meaning in (US) English so this might be that.

          Americans call people in superficial relationships ‘friends’ that Europeans never would. The basic meaning of ‘friend’ in the US “someone I know who’s not an open enemy”. In Poland there’s at least three degrees of friendship (maybe four thought it’s more a kind than a degree).

          So maybe she’s calling a general positive first impression “bonding”…

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          • It’s true! I was a bit shocked when this person referred to me as her friend when we’d never spent any alone time together. We’d never been to each other’s houses even.

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            • “It’s true! I was a bit shocked when this person referred to me as her friend when we’d never spent any alone time together. We’d never been to each other’s houses even.”

              -See, I would call that a friendly acquaintance, or even just an acquaintance. I’d be more likely to refer to them by how I know them, though–colleague, classmate, person I know from X place, etc. I don’t think that being friends means you need to have been to each other’s houses, but I agree there should be some alone time or otherwise one-on-one personal conversation involved. And if I’m not at the point where I’m comfortable talking to or about the person using their name, we’re probably not even past friendly acquaintance. But I think the name thing is just me.

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  3. Fie upon this quiet life on said:

    I don’t know. One of my colleagues (now friend) revealed to me the first time she ever met me that she had been raped and later was in an abusive marriage and got divorced 8 years ago. It took me a long time to become friends with her because I was so off put by her outpouring of information.

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