Friend vs Acquaintance

faHow do you refer to people in your life? Is everyone you meet a friend? Is everyone in your life an acquaintance? I know some people who never meet a stranger and others who will meet someone and have to get to know them for years before they consider them to be a friend.

Lately I have been listening to how people refer to other people. They will talk to someone online, through email, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and refer to them as “my friend” sent me an email the other day. Or my friend on YouTube said this.  Is a friend someone who you never really met in person or is that an acquaintance?

What about someone who you have known for 30 years? You met them in high school or college and have kept in contact ever since. You know their husband or wife, their kids. Are they your friend or an acquaintance?

Then there are some people in your life who may have been considered your friend but are now more of an acquaintance.  There are are also people who you may have always considered an acquaintance who surprised you and have really become a dear friend to you.

Dictionary.com defines friend in part as “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter” and an acquaintance as  “a person known to one, but usually not a close friend; the state of being acquainted or casually familiar with someone or something.”

Personally, I believe a friend is someone you can trust implicitly, a friend is a person you can be vulnerably with, without worry of being judged. Someone you can call at three in the morning and know they will be there for you to help in any way they can or maybe to just listen.

To me, an acquaintance is someone you may work with, sure you may see them everyday, but you don’t have a deep relationship with, you don’t share life with. It may be that person you talk to over the internet, but not necessarily someone you can count on in an emergency.

Some people are lucky enough to have their spouse be their best friend, as well as their spouse. Others are not so lucky. Others may not have a spouse or don’t have a deep relationship with their spouse so they build relationships with their friends. Still others don’t really have a good friend, but have many acquaintances.

It is difficult for some people to build deep friendships, maybe because of issues they had earlier in life where trust with someone important was broken. Some people haven’t built strong friendships because they have moved a lot and haven’t been able to build quality friendships due to a lack of time in one place.

My point in this post is to have you look at the relationships you have in your life. Do you have a lot of acquaintances and few friends? Do you call your acquaintances friends when they are really not.  It is hard to look at your life and realize you don’t have a lot of true friends.  Some of you don’t even have a lot of acquaintances maybe other than the people they work with.

Building true friendships is very hard work. The truth of the matter is those who don’t have a lot of friends don’t work hard to make them, or maybe they themselves are not a trustworthy type individual. That’s right, friendship is a two way street. You have to be a friend to make a friend. A person who can be counted on in order to have someone else in your life that you can count on. It is also important to have multiple friends in your life as not one person can be all things to another. Everyone has their own life as well. They may be having their own issues at the same time you may need them, so you may need to call another friend.

Take an inventory of your life. Do you have several good friends or a lot of acquaintances? Are you a good friend to others or just their acquaintance? Understand that not everyone will be your friend just because you are their friend. Each of us have our own personal issues when it comes building relationships.  Take some time today and ask yourself if you are happy with the number of friends you have or if you are happy just having acquaintances.  We are all meant to be social and have relationships with each other, take time to invest yourself in others and allow them to invest in you.

Be a friend, not because you expect friendship back, but you just may be surprised what you do get back. Take the risk of going past the acquaintance phase with others. Be a friend.