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.
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.
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.