Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friends vs. Acquaintances - Which Are You?

DISCLAIMER: If you happen to be a 'friend' of mine, you should NOT read anything personally into this blog. I am discussing an observation that has evolved over time and am not specifically targeting anyone. With that said...

What makes an Acquaintance? What makes a Friend?

I recently left a job after 14 years. Well, let's call a spade a spade, the job left me. But that's neither here nor there. At said job, I had a lot of "friends" - a lot of people who I've known for many years: ate with at lunch; drank with at parties; dined with at dinners; confided in, shared intimate details of both work life and home life. People I've been (and still am) proud to know and look forward to socializing with again.

I know a lot of these people will be Acquaintances for a long time to come. Facebook Friends who occasionally comment on my Posts or I on theirs. We poke fun at each other and generally keep in contact. I like all of these people, love some of them actually. They're my 'friends'...

But 'friends' in different sort of way than my true 'friends' - Friendship is deeper than that - and that's OK.

The main difference seems to be based on Communication - a major component of every relationship. I've found (again, over time) that there are a few people who call you, want to say 'hi' - hang out, see what you're up to, wanna grab a bite. Minimally, you can call these people Friends.

Going beyond that, of course, there can be that core group of Friends who frequently go over the top, doing things that go beyond your imagination. Fun dinners and movies, day trips, weekenders, evenings that begin simply and after much conversation and good times, you realize that it's now five-six hours later and you don't know where the time went. Should you fall into that category (and you know who you are) you are true Friends (and I love them all). A deeper love than the 'love' you have for your 'friends' (who are actually Acquaintances).

So what's the deal with Acquaintances - what is it that makes them different from Friends? Well, to start with, there is nothing wrong with Acquaintances - we all have them and need them. They're fun. The average person you know and encounter with some regularity is an Acquaintance.

I have found, though, that these are the people you reach out to. These are the ones you call, email, IM. These are people for which communication tends to be a one-way street. Oh sure, they will respond to your communiques and you'll both set-up time together... but as a rule, only after the initial contact is made by you. The key here is, you are the catalyst. Therefore, the contact doesn't tend to feel mutual...

I think that's the true difference. Mutuality. It is not as reciprocal as your relationships with your Friends. Friendship is a two-way street. Acquaintances tend to come and go because unless you're the one putting yourself out there all the time to continue the contact, Acquaintances begin to fade into the mists of time. Days become Weeks. Weeks turn into Months. Next thing you know, you can't remember the last time you saw them or talked to them. Your lives are on different paths, growing further apart as you go your ways... usually with your own friends.

This is not a condemnation, just an observation. There's a reason why songs are written about Friends. They are important.

DISCLAIMER P.S.: If for some reason you as a reader see yourself falling inadvertently into the Acquaintance category and want more... you know what you have to do.