Define ‘Friend’?

Friendship, it seems is a very funny thing.  Viewed very differently be different people, it is amazing that any of us actually have any at all!

I’m a very ‘hands off’ friend, mostly as my spare time is very, very tight with my two jobs and other commitments, but also because I have never really been the type of person that needs a circle of people around me all of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, if my friends need anything at all, they know they can call or turn up and I will move heaven and earth to help them.  My stuff is theirs to borrow at a moments notice, whether I heard from them the day before or 3 months previously, and you can still be classed as one of my best mates, even if we are separated by time or distance of any length.

I’m also quite compartmental about my friends and who I class as acquaintances.  If I went to school with you, but haven’t seen or spoken to you since the day we left then we are acquaintances; not friends.  Met a few times through others; again acquaintances.

People I work with but don’t see outside of work; colleagues.

Social media seems to blur the lines as well for some people. “She’s my friend on Facebook, so yeah we’re mates”….ARE YOU?  If it wasn’t for Facebook, would you still care about anything that happened to them?  Would you notice if they moved to the other side of the world?  Would their absence impact any area of you life?  Would you even notice if they unfriend’ed you on Facebook and unfollowed you on Twitter?  If the answer is no, then you probably aren’t what I would class as friends.

When I was younger, it was, for some reason, all about having friends and as many as possible.  I genuinely cared about whether people liked me and wanted to hang out with me and as a result, I changed my opinions on things and hid my preferences to fit in with the crowd and keep my friends.  As I got older, these friends slowly started to filter away.  With age comes responsibilties and you find that, through no fault of anyone’s, some people don’t have time for you and you in return you don’t have time for them.

You have to start prioritising your time and who you spend it with as more and more of your life is taken up by jobs and children and housework and all the other great little treats being an adult provides.  There’s no dramatic argument, they just slowly stop appearing in your life and neither of you does anything about it.

I found that this process left me with a handful of people that I call friends. and even in that handful, there are sub categories of friend.

The ‘best’ friends, who know all your secrets, how to calm you down, how to cheer you up and if you turned up on their doorstep covered in blood, with a spade and a suspicious looking rolled up carpet behind you, would grab a spade and ask no questions.

The ‘going out’ friends, who you only see when a girls night is organised on a rare occasion that you all have a night off together.

The ‘dinner and drinks’ friends who you meet up with maybe once a month for a catch up over food.

The ‘gym’ friends that you talk fitness with and can bitch about weight for hours.

The ‘raver’ friends, that you party with till dawn, make memories with but who don’t really feature in your day to day life too much.

Your ‘social media’ friends, who like and comment on your stuff but have nothing to say to you when you actually see them in person.

Your ‘long distance’ friends, who live far away or are traveling and you don’t speak to as much as you would like to.

There are of course, hundreds more sub cats of friends that exist and most people will fit into one or more categories at any one time and will slide in and out of them as you go through your lives.  I know I have had people like Kym that for many years was closer to me than anyone could be, who is now a ‘long distance’ friend as her life took her to Manchester and Birmingham.

Charli and Lucy who are now traveling or living abroad that I was once working with, sharing meals with and raving till sunrise with, who have been put to Skype dates and Facebook chat until they return.

It is very strange to me as well, that not everyone thinks of friends the same way, and would even have different categories for their friends too.  Some people would not even dream of having them listed so; they just have friends and that’s all there is to it.  If you have ever met them, and didn’t piss them off, then they class you as a friend.

Is it weird then, to think of people in that way?  What happens when you realise that you and your friends don’t view friendship in the same way?  Can you still be friends?

I know that one of my friends hates it if someone asks to borrow something if they haven’t spoken to them for months.  They think it’s cheeky and it bugs them that they only seem good enough to contact if they have something to give.  I, on the other hand, wouldn’t be bothered by that one bit.

However you look at friendship, in a way, they are all a bit selfish.  You meet someone, and for some reason, whether it is as simple as you feel good when they are around, you only keep that person in your life because on some level you gain something from their presence.  Not material, although sometimes that is the case, but emotionally in the form of support, or conversation or that they just make the world you live in better by being there.

What about if two people are only friends because they can provide materialistic benefits to each other; is it still classed as a friendship?

As I mentioned, I am a hands off friend.  I get on with my life and leave my friends to get on with theirs and I make contact when I miss them or I have something to give or there is something I need.  This may seem odd to some and selfish to others but to me, friendships that involve a daily contact and lots of plans feels smothering.  It doesn’t mean I love my friends any less for it and I think my busy schedule means I want my free time free.  I have to have it in my head that I can be free when I’m not at work, so I tend to make a lot of last minute, on the day plans which I know bugs some of my friends to death.  But it doesn’t mean I love them less and I hope it means they don;t love me any less either.  They just understand that we see friendship and what it means in different lights.

I do feel as I’m getting older, the need for friendship is getting less and less and I’m not quite sure why nor can I explain it, but one thing I do know is that if you ask about, no one seems to see friendship the same.

Maybe when I can leave my other job, and we all start to settle in one place, my attitude towards what a friendship is may change and so might theirs,and I will be very interested to see who I’m hanging out with when I’m an old lady.

I would love to hear your opinions on friendship and what it means to you so please, comment below 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Define ‘Friend’?

  1. So many different types of friends and people who come in and out of your life. I have more acquaintances and find it harder as I get older to find the real friendships I had in younger years.

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