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.