The Weight Of Friendships

Throughout the years, I’ve learned the most about life from the friendships that have come and gone, but especially from the friends that remain permanent fixtures. I may not always be the greatest friend, but I think I can safely say that I’m a friend that will be loyal to you forever, unless you fuck me over. In which case, if you cross me, it’s unlikely that you’re ever able to get back on my good side. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.

With that said, I hold a different meaning for the degrees of friendships I have. For me, being a friend holds more weight than being an acquaintance. Obviously, right? However, I think what confuses people here, is that the role of a friend can be misconstrued and most people are actually acquaintances when it comes to the true foundation of the relationship.

Acquaintance

Someone that you have a generally good and healthy relationship with. They could be in the form of work colleagues, community-related organizations you’re a part of, religious organizations, neighbors, etc. These are the type of people who you’ll invite to a gathering you host, but you may or may not know if they’ll show up. You may know a great deal about them based on how you’re acquainted with one another (i.e., If you are work colleagues you may know a lot about their work ethics, gossip, work history), but you may know virtually nothing about other areas of their life. I realized that one of my work colleagues was hovering between friend and acquaintance the moment it dawned on me that they had no idea what my ethnicity was. If you’re friends, knowing each other’s ethnic heritage is a pretty big deal.

Friend

A friend is someone you know very well and is someone who knows you well also. They know about your career, family, hobbies, passions and significant other (maybe more than they should). What makes a friend different from an acquaintance, though, is more than just that list of surface area information. A friend also knows what pisses you off, what you wish to be doing in the future, and what your fears are. They also know mundane things like what your favorite food is, the sentimental value you have for an object, and why your family is incredibly insane. A friend is someone who knows and accepts the whole of you.

Here’s what confuses people: the length of time you’ve known a person does not equal to the strength or authenticity of the friendship. I have several people who I have in my life that would be considered friends due to the length of time I’ve known them, but when I really think about it, they’re just acquaintances. And I’m not trying to devalue our acquaintances — they have a specific purpose in our lives. But when you know you’re stuck in a rut or you’ve just experienced heartbreak, acquaintances are not the first people that we initially wish to turn to.

So, are you at the point where you’re mentally going down a list of who is and is not a friend? It’s fine to ponder. Heck, I do it from time to time! I personally think it’s healthy to recognize the positions that people hold in our lives. When we’re able to recognize those positions, we can then either work to turn acquaintances into friends, or feel at peace when our friends turn into acquaintances. Not only does it help your relationships by understanding the degrees of friendships, but it also helps you become a better friend, too.

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Luann

Feminist, Pinay, coffee lover, boba aficionado and pop culture enthusiast. Current graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies. Dwelling in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon but always California dreaming. You can also read more of her articles at browngirldecolonized.com

4 thoughts on “The Weight Of Friendships”

  1. This is an interesting piece! I tend to draw a pretty strong line between friend & acquaintance – it takes a lot for me to consider someone a “friend,” so I don’t consider all that many people friends. But different people use different definitions, so occasionally I’ll be surprised to learn that someone thinks of me as much closer than I think of them. That’s when things get complicated.

  2. Even people that we do consider close friends may leave our lives or slip back into being a friendly acquaintance rather than a friend or perhaps hover somewhere in between there. Personally, I tend to call someone a friend based on whether or not I can rely on them when shit goes down, so to speak. Where I’m from, there’s a somewhat sad but true saying that when you go to jail [or insert some bad thing happening to you], that’s when you find out who your friends are. I am much less close with some of my friends than others, but I still consider them friends. I guess everyone approaches it differently. :)

    1. Yes I agree! I think it’s good to keep an open mind as to who in your life can become real friends despite the friend/acquaintance model I’m proposing. I neglected to include that I also have a few people in my life that became friends instantly because we clicked so well. So yes, life can surprise us!

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