Yes, I said it. I used the “F” word, but it is not what you think. The word I am referring to is “friends”. What is a Friend? Why are we so quick to throw the word around as though everyone fits the bill. When we all know that not everyone we talk to is our friend. Every relationship that you have can be classified into one of the undermentioned categories. To be someone’s friend is a choice.
A friend to me is someone you can trust; someone who would be honest with you; someone who would not judge you; someone who would listen and spend time with you and someone who you feel comfortable being yourself around.
Most of us would agree that there are different degrees of ‘friendships‘. I believe that friendships could be broken down into four main categories: steel friendships, concrete friendship, stick friendships and straw friendships with the steel friendships being the strongest and the straw friendships being the weakest. All of these relationships have their purpose in our lives. It is important to see these relationships for what they are so that we have the proper expectations, if any, for the people that exist within them.
Straw friendships are the weakest of the friendships. These people do not exist in your typical circle of friends. You do not socialize with each other and if you do see each other out in public you would probably only say “Hi” if, eye contact was made. You have not spent any real-time getting to know each other and probably know each other through a one-off event or through a mutual friend. You probably would not remember his or her name. There is typically no physical contact with these interactions. You know of each other but don’t know each other. They are what I would call an ‘encounter‘.
Stick friendships tend to lend themselves to familiarity and thus are a little stronger than straw friendships. These people have spent some time interacting with you and thus you would most likely say “Hello” and chat briefly when out in public. They can be anyone you have positive frequent interactions with such as neighbours, favourite food vendors, etc. In friendships like this, it is possible to build good rapport with each other and not know each others names. Facial recognition usually is enough to initiate a smile or a hello. However, once you have learnt their names it is unlikely that you would forget it. They are what I would call an ‘acquaintance‘.
Concrete friendship as the name suggest are strong relationships. They have known you for many years. You have shared many secrets and have lots of stories to share. Time, age and life circumstances have reduced the frequency of the time shared with each other. You probably don’t talk as much as you used to but should you see each other in public there would most likely be a public display of affection – a warm embrace or kiss on the cheek. If and when you do meet up for drinks, it is like old times again as you try to catch up on all the chapters of each others lives that you’ve missed. These are ‘friends’.
Steel friendship are the strongest of these friendships. They consists of those people who have chosen to stay apart of your life. They have been there for the ups and downs in your life. They have been in your life for many years. You communicate regularly. You support, encourage, console, counsel and trust each other with various aspects of your lives. When you meet up there is a public display of affection. These people stand up for you and defend you especially when aren’t there to defend yourself. To the outside world, there is NO question about where their loyalty lies. These people play crucial roles in your life and thus their well-being is important to you as much as yours is to them. They are typically a family member, a childhood friend or someone who has known you at least five years or more. They are your ‘best friends’.
How significant a person’s role is in your life is determined by YOU. The level of contribution they make in your life however, is up to THEM. We meet people everyday but very few come in our lives to stay. So if you have a friend or two that’s true, don’t be afraid to say, “I love and appreciate you.”