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Re-Defining Friendships: The Difference Between a FRIEND and an ACQUAINTANCE

This blog was archived from September 16, 2015.

Ohhh friendships. Friend. Ships. SHIPS. Such a perfect word for something that starts off wonderful and depending on if that boat can weather certain storms and tides, it can sail away. FriendSHIPS come and go. We all have heard this and we all know this. We are gifted in life with certain friends for the season and time. How many of us can really say we've kept the same group of friends since middle school? Or high school? If you've kept the same circle of friends, then you're either the one in a million, or you don't know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. I struggled with this for the longest time because I got to a point where I thought I had a lot of friends, yet, actions weren't reciprocated or I felt like I was going out of my way to plan things and make certain people as comfortable as possible and then I dealt for years with flaky people and lots and lots of irritation. I took a step back and really started analyzing all of it and once I was able to decipher the difference between the two, I became a much happier person.

First, let's define the terms for those who are unsure. It's okay to be unsure, you might be feeling unsure in fact, if ___ is a friend or not. Now, I am NOT saying these are the exact definitions to go by, this is after all, an opinion blog and if you're interested in MY opinion, well, here it is! Moving on! Let's clarify:

acquaintance [uh-kweyn-tns]


1. a person with whom one has been in contact but who is not a close friend 2. knowledge of a person or thing, esp when slight 3. make the acquaintance of, to come into social contact with

Who would I place in to that list? Well, co-workers, the barista who makes your coffee at Starbucks, the teacher at your child's school, the cashier at Trader Joe's you see all the time, the girl from high school who only waves at you and doesn't get deep in to conversation past "how are you?" and "how is the weather?", that guy you worked with ONCE at an event, the girl you see at every bbq that you attend that a mutual friend throws, a client, people you do business with, the plumber, the guy who comes over to fix the dishwasher - even if you guys chat about your kids, he/she is not a friend, someone you see maybe once or twice a year and once again, someone you bump in to and have very shallow, meaningless conversations with.

Before I go ahead and define what I think a FRIEND is/should be, here is the dictionary definition of it:

friend [frend]

1a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : acquaintance 2a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group 3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity) 4: a favored companion

So there you have it! Wow. A friend can be an acquaintance according to Merriam Webster! Well then! This completely justifies having 900+ friends on Facebook. This is why I've been so confused all of these years. I can admit right now that I've been wrong (is the world ending?!)! Apparently you can have 100,000,000 meaningless friendships since anyone who is not hostile or of your same nationality or an acquaintance is, in deed, by dictionary definition: A FRIEND! Wow! I just gained all of Spain (roughly 46,507,760 in January 2014) and the Philippines (100 million Filipinos living in the Philippines itself, there are estimated to be around 10 million Filipino people living abroad) as my buddies and friends! Goodness! There are so many of you! 15 million people IN MANILA alone!

Because THIS is how I defined a friend (and by the way, this is all reciprocated on my end):

  • Someone who is never in competition with you. This is a person who you can go to and not feel intimidated by, you don't go to their homes and then feel bad that you don't have what they have, you don't compare your life or achievements alongside theirs, someone who can "show off" what they have without feeling like a "show off" because you know what? They're genuinely HAPPY for you and your successes. They don't leave thinking, "wow, all he/she does is talk about what he/she is up to." You know why they don't think this? Because they were likely the ones who asked you with all eagerness and sincerity, "What have you been up to?"

  • Someone who does not judge you. Just like with all of your successes, you can tell them about all of your downfalls and struggles knowing that: A.) They will not think any less of you and B.) They will likely offer to help you with some guidance/advice and they will even follow up on you to make sure you're okay. Your problems don't become their problems, but your problems are real and they are valid. Your feelings matter, and your success and getting back on your feet matters.

  • Someone who keeps your secrets. This one is tough to come by. No one keeps secrets nowadays. No one. Okay okay, hardly anyone. The lovely handful of friends I have do, in fact, keep my secrets, that is until they see that I've blogged it and then they can go ahead and tell the world.. or at least I like to think this! Heads up, I really don't have any secrets worth keeping, at least not now anyway.

  • Someone who is genuinely happy for you and wants you to succeed. I know I tapped on this one earlier, but when I say they want you to succeed... I frikkin' mean it. Your success feels like their success because they supported you almost every step of the way. They saw the falls and they saw the triumphs, so when you succeed, to them, they get close to that same feeling when Tim Robbins finally escaped the Shawshank prison! They wanna just high five everyone.

  • Someone who speaks highly of you. Yes! This one! They do not bad-mouth you around other people. In fact, if a person is talking about a supposed friend and sharing a story with me but talking bad about this person, I instantly think to myself two things: 1) They can't be talking about a real friend and 2.) I hope they don't talk about me this way when my back is turned/when I'm not around. I can testify that anything I say about someone has been told to that person's face already. So if there is a struggle or something bothering me, I have already confronted this person about it. But hey! You speak highly of the people you love! It also makes you a much nicer and more positive person to be around.

  • Someone who speaks truth. This one can be super touchy for some people, especially those who like to share problems and ask for advice but never take it. Remember the definition of that? They're called ASKHOLES. You've shared with them the same advice over and over yet they never seem to want it or use it. You're practically giving this askhole friend of yours the medicine to fix what is ailing them and yet they never take it. If you're too much of an askhole, you end up getting put in an acquaintance category, by default. Sorry, but I don't have the time or patience as I get older to deal with that. It's harsh, but it's the truth. A good friend will always tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And they will expect the same from you.

  • Someone who is fiercely loyal to you. This one. THIS. This is what it's all about. It's so simple actually it's laughable. How to tell if you are a friend to someone? Ask yourself! Would I be loyal to this person?

It might be easier to list off things that REAL FRIENDS DO NOT DO:

  1. They don't talk about you behind your back. This one was defined earlier, but it's pretty much easy to understand.

  2. They are not jealous of what you have. They can want what you have, but they aren't mad or jealous if they don't have it for themselves. Like I mentioned earlier, no comparisons.

  3. They don't associate with people who have hurt you. This one is super touchy for some people. Me, especially. I am guilty of this. I am that sensitive person who, if I've been hurt or wronged by someone, I expect my friends to not only understand, but not associate with that person. I know this seems unfair for people to choose. It's truly not fair to ask someone to choose. So if they cannot choose, you can choose for them. No one seems to understand what loyalty means anymore. Here's an example: when I went through a bad breakup many many many years ago, it was tough on all of our mutual friends. Who do we hang out with? If we invite Talia then we cannot invite ____. If ____ is there, don't tell Talia. Okay, so guess what? Cut the cord. I won't make you choose. Since you can't, it's best to just go our separate ways so it's not awkward for anyone. You know why? Real friends shouldn't feel awkward or burdened by your company and presence. All of those people who had such a hard time choosing, weren't in fact, my friends at all. They weren't. Ouch, Talia. No, it's the truth. They were clearly concerned about an awkward situation more than they cared to see me or find out exactly how I was doing and what I was up to and the new hot guy I was dating. ;) I don't take offense to it anymore, I admit, at first it was a huge strike to the chest, but here's loyalty. My brother and sister? They didn't have to choose. It was a no-brainer! Talia first. Duh. My closest friends? Although they were sad about the breakup or perhaps some of them wished it worked out (until they met and fell in love with the new hot guy), they didn't even think twice about it! Oh, you're done with that person? Well, we are too. It was almost TOO EASY. And to those who were "left in the dust", trust me, they didn't feel it. Not even the sting of it. If anything, they likely felt relief that they didn't have to choose, and guess what? So did I. It's a big relief actually to cut ties, super therapeutic. You can still be acquaintances, right? :) Along with the rest of the country you're native to. ;) Haha!

**In a sense, a friend should never make you choose. And I don't. You read that up there, right? You don't have to choose because if the choice isn't simple, here. I've chosen for you. In that case, that makes me the best kind of friend. I'm not making you choose, but there's also something so strong about KNOWING THYSELF. If I know me, and I know that it's only going to hurt me that you are still associated so easily with someone who has offended me or done something awful to me, then that tells me all I need to know about your loyalty to me as a friend. NONE. I can see that ship going down in flames and real soon. Let's not kid ourselves. I can't control my feelings, and I will turn in to the worst version of myself if you, someone I care so dearly about, has a tough time choosing. I prefer to surround myself with people who let their yes be yes, and their no be no.

So maybe that's all it boils down to. WHO ARE YOU LOYAL TO? Friendship isn't complicated. It's not supposed to be a burden, it's not supposed to feel like work. Ask yourself: WHY AM I FRIENDS WITH THIS PERSON? Do they bring meaning to my life? Do they support me and want to be a part of this journey of mine? Do I feel the same about them? Will they be there for me when I call? Or am I took afraid to call because this person will tell 10 people about my problems before they even think to try and help me? Is this person fun to be around? Is this person someone I genuinely care about and want/need to be a part of my life - all the good and bad parts of it?

I am guilty of being TOO LOYAL. I was that sibling that didn't even need to get to know the person, if my sister told me that someone made fun of her at school or someone was being mean to her, I just flat out didn't like that person. Ever. Same with my brother! Any ex-girlfriend of his? DISLIKE! I don't care if we laughed or had a class together.. you hurt my brother? Bye! Bye! Co-workers of my husband who he didn't care for? I don't care for them either! Haha! It's so bad at times I have to calm my nerves down and say, "wait, they didn't do anything to YOU Talia, just to this person you care about.. " which is enough to not want anything to do with them. I am what you would call.. a pit bull. I am FIERCELY LOYAL to my nearest and dearest friends. I will be the same, if not worse, with my children. I feel like this world could use more pit bulls, don't you? It's so refreshing to have people in your life who DO NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE because the choice is simple!

I've always been told that you only need a handful of friends in life. Anything more and you've let out your trust too easily that it will certainly bite you in the ass. You can only be loyal to so many people. Honestly. Taking on more means that more people have to take on ME which, who the heck wants that job? Only the few, the proud, and the strong can handle all this mess!

All content and images copyright TheSisterFiles©2015 and cannot be used without expressed permission.

Photography by: Jeff

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