I found this out really recently, or maybe, I finally paid attention to the fact, for as the reality set in, it really, really hurt.
So, I wanted to try and establish, at least for me, the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.
For two reasons: so I don’t have to feel so bad and so deeply betrayed ever again, and, probably even more importantly, I don’t place too much responsibility on someone who never wanted it in the first place.
Friend versus acquaintance can be easy to confuse as your relationships develop, but I think a lot of it depends on the environment in which you know them.
For me, friends cross over in to all areas of your life. Not always physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Acquaintances are corralled in one area of your life, with an occasional straying to a restaurant or meeting outside, but nothing consistent and those occasions normally happen on the heels of some kind of event which is somehow connected to the original environment you met them in.
Say, for example, you are involved in a sport and you know them through that area of your life.
Acquaintances don’t really know you, they know you as something they identify with, which is determined again by the environment that you met in, but they don’t know you, and they don’t care to. An acquaintance will resist getting too many details about other areas of your life. They will absorb enough to be polite and to seem “friendly” but not enough to be tied in too much outside of their already established comfort zones.
Friends on the other hand, are in every part of your life. Maybe, sometimes, too much, but none the less, they are there because they do care about you and they do want to know you in all of areas of their life and want to be involved in all areas of yours.
Friends are people you can see anywhere or any time of day or night, and it is not triggered by a certain environment to make it happen; it seems to happen by itself.
Friends are people who think about you and know your needs enough to where they will let you know if they see something that would benefit you or harm you, and let you know about it. It stays with them, until they see you again.
Acquaintances, not so much. And this can be misleading, for while you are in that environment that you know them from, they are very attentive. They “know you” it seems and they really “care about you.” They remember to ask you things or bring you things: it creates a real sense that they have your back, but if you take them out in to the real world, or your complete life, they can’t come through for you because, they don’t really know “you”.
And it is not their fault: they are an acquaintance, not a friend. Acquaintances cannot be held to the same expectations that friends are. They have no emotional responsibility to you.
As an acquaintance, they know you are part of a scenario in their life, and within that you have meaning, especially if your presence there, benefits their presence there, but you as an individual really don’t offer them anything outside of that scenario.
Have you noticed people who you meet in an environment, if you offer to go get something with them, or invite them to something you think they might like to do, that have nothing to do with that environment, will often refuse and not have time?
One of your first signs that “this is not a friend, they are an acquaintance,” and that is great. Acquaintances make great pseudo friends, in the right element. Just don’t do like me and expect them to have your back, or remember you in any other situation except ones that benefit them. And of course, if you drift from that environment, or if they drift, don’t expect to continue having a relationship with them outside of a polite, “hi how are you,” from time to time.
And of course, there are friends that aren’t worth “spit” when it comes to holding up their side of the friendship. You are always the one calling, or driving them around.
I think in those cases, they need to get moved to the “acquaintance” list, and not prioritize them in your life. Because if you don’t, you will expect too much of them, be disappointed when they don’t come through, and then perhaps have a tiff and lose them as both an acquaintance and a friend.
And most times, with people, you have to take them at their best when they can give it to you, recognize when you are being “shined on,” and be okay with both.