This post is actually an old post I did years ago on a different site, but I went back and modified it, updating it to today and correcting some of the grammar and spelling. It's pretty cool looking back to see how you thought back then compared to today. I love seeing how much I've grown!
Let me give you some context for this post: a few years ago when I first went to college, I had a hard time finding and making new friends. It took me three years to finally find a friend group I could hang out with and feel safe and comfortable with. But during that time of searching, I had to really define what friendship was to me.
I am a thinker, so I have to put things into categories. Not everyone fits those categories exactly, but I only do this to make all the thoughts floating around my mind make sense. Thats why if you read my post "Love" I categorized love. Anyway, here is what I think of friendship:
Every word has two meanings: the denotative (the actual dictionary definition) and the connotative (the meaning we associate with it). The denotation of "friend" is "A person you know well and regard with affection and trust; An associate who provides cooperation or assistance; A person with whom you are acquainted; A person who backs a politician or a team etc.". These are very broad definitions. Probably because we use "friend" for everything, just like we use the word "love" for everything ("I love this pizza!" "I love my mom!" "I love my wife!" "I love this song!"). So really what is a friend?
My connotative definition of "friend", before today, was someone who you you could count on and trust. Someone that when you asked something from them, they did it willingly and joyfully. Someone that got your back when you forgot something. Someone who would defend you when you were in trouble. Someone who would sympathize with you in your pain. Someone who would correct you when you are wrong. Someone you could have fun with. Someone who would forgive you. Someone who would defend you when others talked about you behind your back. Someone who listened. Someone who shared your interests and sense of humor. Someone who you connected with. Someone who is there for you when you are suffering. Someone who understands when you are having a bad day and is patient with you. Someone who forgives readily.
Am I wrong? Am I too demanding? Are my expectations too high?
Unfortunately, to most people, my expectations of a "friend" was too high. I expected my friends to be all of those, as I would be for them. That was unfair of me. I should not put my standards on other people.
So now it is time to re-evaluate my definition of "friend". But as I started to redefine it, I realized that it wasn't the definition that was the problem, it was I was trying to cram several different things into one word. So instead, to make it easier for my mind, I divided "friend" into categories:
- "acquaintance" - someone you know and hang out with occasionally, but keep everything on the surface; you don't go too deep; don't discuss politics or religion; maybe work with them in a lab or project at school; main goal is to have fun, but not always; relationship can be both social and professional; many times acquaintances talk about each other being their backs
- "co-worker" - someone you trust more than an acquaintance when it comes to projects or activites; most of the time the relationship is professional, although it can carry over into the social life; co-workers usually have mutual respect for each other, and when discussing differences they listen and debate, but never argue; keep everything light hearted and upbeat; occasionally there is some talking behind each other's back but there is a mutual respect for each other
- "associate" - an acquaintance with a specific goal in mind; may disagree on most things, but have one thing in common that both agree on and work together on; an example may be a fundamentalist conservative Christian and a homosexual liberal atheist working together on ending poverty in their area, they disagree on most everything, but they are united for a single cause; this mostly applies to the work force
- "companion" - someone who may not agree with some of the things you stand for, nor do they have the same interests, but they are loyal to you and will always be there for you; even when you screw up and fall on your face, they are right there; normally they don't do many things together because interests are very dissimilar, but still have fun in each other's presence; they have a mutual respect and love for each other, even though they can't agree on much; they rarely hang-out, but are always there for each other when someone needs something; they may know some of your secrets, and you can trust them with your secrets, but they don't know everything about you
- "good friend" - same as a companion, but have more interests and things in common; this person you hang out with a lot, and you have a great time with; someone you always enjoy being around; these people know you for who you are and respect you for who you are; they may know some deep secrets of you life and you can trust them with pretty much anything; you may not agree on everything, but it doesn't matter because you love each other and are looking out for each other's interests; this relationship is a sacrificial relationship, meaning you may have to miss a class to help them out with relational problems, or you may not watch a certain movie you really wanted to watch to help them with homework, or you may take notes for them in class and deliver it to them in person when they are sick
- "best friend" - only reserved for a few people in your life; these are good friends who go above and beyond what you expect; they know you better than you know yourself at times and can read what you need when you need it; they go out of their way to help you out and make you happy; they know your deepest darkest secrets and accept you for it anyway; they live sacrificially for you, sacrificing their own wants and desires to help you out, as you do for them; the only other people they will put in front of you is family; if you needed a car because yours broke down, they would give you a car until you got back on your feet; these friends you have for life and can go years without talking and pick up right where you left off when you meet again; you can trust this person with your life
- "lover" - reserved for (preferably) one person in your life (although break-ups and divorces do happen); this is the person who knows you better than you know yourself; this is the best friend with romantic attraction thrown in; this person knows you better than even your best friends; he/she knows all about you and can read what you need; they can tell when you are upset and know exactly how to cheer you up; this is the most sacrificial of the relationships, sacrificing everything they have and own for you, and you do the same for them; it is a mutual love for each other
Following His Call,