“The longest-lasting relationship between people: semi-cooked.”

The interaction between people is complex and delicate.

Too much intimacy can breed needless worries and estrangement; too much distance can lose the joy of companionship and warmth.

Maintaining a semi-cooked, moderately warm relationship is key to harmony and longevity.

In psychology, there’s a concept called “personal boundaries.”

It suggests that we all have clear limits in physical, material, and spiritual aspects, indicating what we are willing to do and what we find unacceptable.

To put it metaphorically:

We are like eggs with shells, aiming to be “eggs in the same basket” rather than “the same egg.” Getting too close can lead to conflict.

Old Liu and Old Li, childhood friends, had a strong bond.

Years ago, when their hometown was redeveloped, they decided to live across from each other for mutual support.

Initially, the families got along well, sharing meals and taking turns with the kids. But over time, their relationship cooled off due to too much interference:

Old Li wanted to change his study’s flooring, but Old Liu thought it wasteful and brought over leftover tiles from his own renovation.

Old Li bought an expensive camera but was hesitant to use it. Old Liu took it to work and lost the lens cap.

The shared hallway often had Old Liu’s trash piled up, sometimes left to rot…

Eventually, Old Li lost his temper, leading to a falling out.

Fulubai said, “The closer the life, the further the hearts.”

Distance creates beauty. Too much closeness only magnifies each other’s faults.

Consider this:

Earth is about 150 million kilometers from the Sun. This distance brings us abundant resources and a pleasant climate, unlike other desolate, lonely planets.

Astrophysicist Hart concluded that if Earth were 1% further from the Sun, it would be a permanent “Cold Palace”; 5% closer, and it would be a perpetual “Flame Mountain,” devoid of life.

The same goes for human relationships.

Too distant, and the relationship cools; too close, and it hurts.

A comfortable distance allows for a long and effortless relationship.

Liang Shiqiu said in “On Friendship”:

“Dealing with people requires respectful distance to prevent over-intimacy.”

Xiao Hong, a fan of Lu Xun, often visited him in Shanghai, which bothered Xu Guangping.

Xu wrote in “Recalling Xiao Hong” about the strain of entertaining her while caring for ailing Lu Xun.

The lesson is clear: even close relationships need boundaries and moderation.

Old She’s essay “One Day” describes a visit from an old friend that overstayed, leading to avoidance.

Sanmao once said, “Even the closest friends need to maintain a proper distance to avoid creating barriers.”

Zhou Guoping stated, “All interactions have an ultimate, invisible yet definite limit.”

Maintaining clear boundaries and appropriate behavior ensures comfortable relationships.

Huang Yongyu, a painting master, spoke of his and Qian Zhongshu’s friendship. They lived 200 meters apart but rarely visited each other, respecting each other’s time and work.

Qian mentioned in “On Friendship” that (plain friendship) embodies the essence of friendship: seemingly plain but profoundly strong.

Jibolan in “The Prophet” wisely noted, “Stand together, but not too close; for the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

The most comfortable state of interaction is close yet spacious, warm yet breathable, watching over each other from a respectful distance.