It seems like every sitcom shares a feature: friends just come and go, they seldom knock or call first. Think of Friends – the characters simply came and went. You might think Seinfeld was an exception, with George and Elaine buzzing from the lobby, but don’t forget how Jerry’s neighbour Kramer just tumbles in the door. I’m sure to some degree this is about writing a good script – you can’t have a lot of down time waiting for people to answer the doorbell. But it also communicates something about the depth of their friendship.
Some researchers say these kinds of friends have what’s called refrigerator rights. The term comes from a book of the same name, but you may have heard it in pop culture, too. It defines a close relationship, where even though they don’t live there, a friend is able to come and go at will, and even eat from the other’s fridge without asking. It’s a high level of friendship.
For some people, maybe that seems natural enough. You grew up with it, perhaps. But for others, it bothers you. You might think it’s awkward, too intimate, or too trusting. You might ask, “What if I needed those leftovers for lunch tomorrow? What if that dessert was for a party? What if you come in my house while I’m in the shower, sleeping, or arguing with my spouse?”
The lines between family and friend are starting to blur in that kind of relationship. That’s the shift we’re going to explore this week in our pursuit of becoming great neighbours. We’ll look at the relationships with our neighbours that go deepest – where we become like family, with a focused, high level of friendship.
Question: How do you react to people having “refrigerator rights” in your house? Would you love more relationships that close, or are you a bit nervous?
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