In college I had a cranky theology professor with white hair and a white beard who occasionally did an impression of a three-year-old. He called it the Ego Shriek. He sat on his desk and kicked his legs whining, "I want playmates! But I want everything to go my way! But I want playmates!"
He explained that this is how we all are. We desire relationship with others, but we don't like the perpetual downside -- other people are free agents who aren't going to always do what we like.
Certainly my three-year-old does it all the time. "I want to play with Marko! But I want to go outside! But Marko won't come outside with me!" Sorry, bucko, looks like you've got some tough choices to make.
When I was a kid I dreamed of a soul mate, a bosom friend, perhaps a sister. The Diana to my Anne Shirley, the Tacy to my Betsy Ray. She was going to like all the things I liked and want to play with me all the time, except when I wanted to be alone. Because I didn't get out much, I believed in this ideal for a long time.
Eventually, though, I discovered that no one is ever everything you want them to be. If you select your friends based on having a maximum number of things in common with you, that's great -- till they inevitably change. If you respect their freedom to change, your freedom is now constrained -- you no longer have the choice you had before, to be friends with this person while also sharing a certain number of things in common with your friend. You sacrifice your desire to share those things with your best friend, or you go find a new best friend. Each of these is a sacrifice; they both hurt.
It's the same with groups. My alma mater was a lovely place when it came to community spirit. There were all these people who agreed with me on everything really important. We had a solid ground to build stuff on! But there wasn't a lot of freedom, because there were many things you couldn't really question. When I question those things, as I do these days, those same people don't like it. Why? Well, obviously I'm threatening the great thing they have -- a community that shares the same ideas. They're then faced with a choice -- to keep their friendbase uniform (which is great, it means you can talk about all those commonalities) or to remain faithful to me as a person. I'm forcing that choice by exercising my freedom.
Organizations that have strict rules -- that are more culty, in a sense -- are often more stable. People invest in them more. Loose clubs have people always coming and going; cults have dedicated members because it's hard to leave. You can't get all the benefits of a cult without giving up some of your freedom -- the "bad parts" of cults are features, not bugs.
Our whole society has mostly chosen freedom over community. Many people I knew wish they lived near family that would help with their kids. But they don't want to live near family, really -- they want to work in a certain field, or live in a certain place, and that's why they don't live near family. They chose freedom over living near family. We also choose freedom in career choice over family businesses most of the time, which is why you don't hear of many family businesses that last more than a generation or two. Family farms don't last, because the father wanted to farm but the son doesn't. Then when the grandson comes along, he wants to farm, but the farm isn't there for him, because his father exercised his freedom and sold it.
But I wonder sometimes if we don't overemphasize freedom, to the detriment of community. People don't want to hang out with their neighbors because they are used to choosing friends based on shared interests or values -- but then you can't be friends with your neighbors, because they're selected more or less randomly and might not have anything in common with you. Every playgroup I try to start or join ends up falling prey to the old problem of, "I didn't feel like going this week." Every single member would like to have the choice to not show up one week, so they don't commit to going. And then no one wants to go because they're afraid no one else will show up. In order for a group to be successful, at least some of the members, some of the time, have to show up when they don't feel like it.
I have been told I should never hang out with a friend unless I want to, I should bail on a social event if I don't feel up to it. But if everyone did that, when would anyone hang out with each other? I have read articles explaining that introverts are tough nuts to crack and therefore the extrovert in the relationship should do all of the effort to make the relationship happen. But why would they want to do that? I'm sure we'd all love it if we had a friend who planned everything for us, called to invite us, and then (when we said no fifty percent of the time) just kept asking and asking because they like us so very much. But I, for one, would feel like a terrible friend if I treated someone that way. They'd think I didn't like them.
Marriage is the ultimate in friendship, and also comes with the least freedom. You want the freedom to change after getting married, but your spouse is going to exercise the same freedom. They might not be exactly the person you married, ten years down the road. You agree to love them anyway, which is a sacrifice of your freedom to go find someone more suited to the ways you've changed. (And mind you, I'm not saying no one ever has a good reason to get a divorce, but I'm talking about the ideal of marriage.) But in return for that tradeoff, you get that magical thing everyone wants -- a bosom friend, someone who likes you for you and not for specific attributes that might change later, someone who isn't going to ditch you when you change.
For better or worse, friendship requires some sacrifice of freedom. It's unfortunate in some ways, because we do have a strong desire for those special friendships where we can do what we like and still have someone to do it with. And certainly there are times and people and places where very little sacrifice is required -- that friend who really is as obsessed with Firefly as you, the spouse who changes to become more like you rather than less, the online forum where people come and go but you are guaranteed to get to talk about your pet topic all the time.
But in another way, I think it's almost a perk, because you show love to others when you sacrifice a little of your freedom for them. You go play outside with your brother because he wants to, and that tells your brother that you care more about being with him than about doing what you want. You keep up with a friend even though they aren't into Lord of the Rings anymore, because after all these years you love them, not your shared interests. And you always get that primary choice -- how far do you want to go for your friends? You can set the balance where you want.