Saturday, April 10, 2010

Of Friends And Acquaintances

Not many of us are able to tell the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. Many times, they are thought to be the very same thing. The truth is, they are not. In many cases, people mistaken colleagues whom they see and work with everyday as their friends. Some may in the process become your friends but the rest are in fact just mere acquaintances.

Maybe the fine line between friends and acquaintances were blurred even further with the growing popularity of social networking sites like Friendster and Facebook. The term 'friend' is used to refer to anyone you add on these sites when in fact they could very well be a member of your family, a business associate, a student, a mentor or anyone else you may not necessarily regard as a friend.

In one's life, you will meet many acquaintances but make few friends. Even the friendliest of persons will have fewer friends than acquaintances. This is natural as people you first meet start off as acquaintances before they are elevated to the status of friend through time spent together.

An acquaintance is someone whose name you know, who you see every now and then, who you probably have something in common with and who you feel comfortable around.
It's a person that you can invite to your home and share things with. But they are people who you don't share your life with, whose actions sometimes you don't understand because you don't know enough about them.
On the other hand, a friend is someone you love. Not that you are "in love" with them, but you care about them and you think about them when they are not there. The people you are reminded of when you see something they might like, and you know this because you know them so well. They are the people whose pictures you have and whose faces are in your head regardless. [...]

I remember writing a piece about friendship and went back to review it. It was written way back in October 2007 but as I went through the piece, it is as relevant now as it was then. Every paragraph, every sentence, every word is exactly the very same things I want to express in this post. It would recommend reading it for better context although I will be quoting some portions of it here.

...friends are definitely not like sanitary pads where you use them when you need them most to soak up all your troubles and you just throw them aside when you're done using them.

As far as I can remember, I've been consistent about how I feel being used like an object by someone I consider a friend. I don't agree with the misguided belief that "friends are meant to be used, that's what friends are for". In my lifetime, I've been unfortunate to come across quite a few of them. Sometimes I'm a spectator from the bylines witnessing how others are being treated like tools. Other times, I'm not so fortunate and I'm the one being treated like a tool.

...friendship is a two way street. Yes, it's bidirectional and not just a roller-coaster ride where it goes in one direction and you just get off the ride when you're done.

Friendships, like any other relationships may see one party receiving more than he/she gives back but we try our best to find a balance and make up for the imbalance. When you constantly take from the cookie jar, forgetting to replenish it adequately, you will end up with an empty cookie jar. Likewise, if you constantly take from your friend without giving back, you will end up with a friend running on empty.

It's bad enough that you are ignored but even worse would be to have that person hurt you in the process with his/her actions/inaction.

Often times, we don't realise we have neglected our friends. We are all guilty of that. However, we try our very best to make up for it in whatever way possible. It is true when they say "a friend in need is a friend indeed". When you hit rock bottom and look around you, those who still stick around are truly your friends. What about those who always turn you down when you seek their help? What about those who makes you feel uncomfortable seeking help from them before you could even ask for their help? Are they still considered friends?

When you put your neck out for someone, you definitely don't expect that person to bring out an axe to chop your head off, especially so when that person is someone you regard as a friend.

I've been told that we should not have any expectations whatsoever. Without expectations, there's no chance for you to be disappointed. True but if we do not have the slightest bit of expectation whatsoever, it only shows we don't care enough to want the friendship to progress any further. It only shows we don't care anything about the friend at all. It is the degree of expectation where the problem lies but is it too much to expect your friend not to treat you like dirt?

You always hope and believe certain individuals have changed for the better until you see the old them creeping back. You are blinded by the new them and ignore the signs that the old them is still very much alive beneath all that new exterior. It is only when it's too late that you discover you've been fooling yourself all these while.

As friends, we always try to hide the flaws we see in them. We always look at the positives rather than the negatives. This is made easier when we make an effort to make up for our own flaws. It is only when the ugly truth rears its head that you realise your folly. It is only when you realise you've not been truthful to yourself that you wished you weren't so foolish. I've told myself before that I won't put myself in such a position again but here I am once more. I may seem to have a hard exterior but the truth is I've a soft centre and I'm very much capable of hurting inside.

It is only when you lose something that you realise how much you truly treasure that something.

As if it isn't complicated enough, a new class of friends known as pseudo-friends exist. They are nice to you and seem like your 'friend' only because of some particular reason. Take that away from the equation and there's no reason for them to be nice or 'friends' with you anymore.

I'm not a colleague who needs to remain professional for the sake of working together. I'm not another person who needs a companion for lunch/dinner. I'm not a housemate who needs a place to stay. I'm not a junior co-worker who needs to show you respect. I'm not someone who owes you money. I'm not someone who needs your technical expertise. I'm not someone who needs your sales. I'm not someone who needs someone to play sports with. I'm not indebted to you in anyway at all. I have no other reason for wanting to be your friend apart from just to be a friend. I'm not a pseudo-friend. If you can't see and appreciate me for that, then it isn't exactly my loss.

But I already know the answer. The silence is deafening. The message is crystal clear. I'm unworthy.


  1. it's a loss to those who don't appreciate u.
    for what it's worth, u'll always be a friend i'll treasure, u mean a lot to me.

  2. don't dwell on the one who doesn't appreciate u, do feel glad that there are people who cares about u.

    btw, from what u'd explained i think u're my friend ('',)