Don't you DARE judge me!

Definitions of friend on the Web:

  • a person you know well and regard with affection and trust;
  • ally: an associate who provides assistance;
  • acquaintance: a person with whom you are acquainted

The word friend is a term that many of us use very loosely. It seems nowadays that ANYONE can attain that label with a simple “hello”. It is also a word that I cherish and don’t throw around. I consider myself to have a great core of people around me that have my best interests at heart and whom I can trust. However, my experiences have led me to believe that many people don’t know what a friend truly exemplifies. So, me being the man that I am took her to the condo pronto I decided to compile a list to differentiate between a friend and other social relationship designations:

Acquaintances – This can be  someone with whom you went to school, a “friend of a friend”, Facebook/Twitter homies, or someone with whom you are cordial and have a nice rapport. This probably comprises about 60-75% of all social interactions. You can have nice conversation, party with them, and hang out here and there. You wouldn’t confide in them or trust them more than any average person. They more than likely have never been to your house (unless you got a ride home or something) either.

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Associates/Colleagues – Your co-workers, organization members, and business partners fall into this category. You congregate for one specific purpose. You may confide and trust in them within the confines of a business relationship, but you tend  to separate business contacts from “your real life” so that the two never intersect and you won’t offend your political connects.

Who throws around the word "friend" more than THIS guy?!

Family – I may hit a nerve or touch on an interpretive grey area, but I feel family is in its own category separate from friends. You don’t choose your family, and with them, you play the hand that you’re dealt to the best of your ability. They are your blood.  The love is unconditional. It’s almost like being in a contract with Diddy. You may have a stronger relationship with friends, but it’s a totally different dynamic that falls within its own designation.

Frienemies – Although it has the word “friend” in its root, a frienemy is more of a rival. Think about Agassi v Sampress. Federer v. Nadal. Jay-Z vs. Nas. Any sports team or competitive individuals will tell you that there is a certain respect among their rivals. They may take shots at each other, prey for their downfall, and stop at nothing to surpass them in any event. However, that quest to be #1 will foster a respect for the other’s ability.

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So where does this leave friends? Well, a true friendship can develop from any of these relationships (including family to an extent). These are you confidants. The people who you would call late at night for an emergency loan to bail you out of jail get you out of trouble and they’d do it.  The people who are first ballot selections to be in/ attend your wedding.  They know your family, know some of your darkest secrets, your likes/dislikes, and at times know you better than you know yourself. Unfortunately, they will also be the people to betray you at the worst possible time, talk behind your back, drop subliminals to others yet smile in your face, and let you down time and time again. The only difference between a friend and the other social relationships: It hurts more coming from a friend. That’s when you know the relationship is significant, but you also know that you may have to end them.

The hardest part about being a friend is knowing when to judge on one transgression in a friendship vs the “body of work” throughout the friendship.  All friends more than likely will talk behind your back. You do it. Your friends do it. Hell, your mother probably did it twice already.  They may hate on you openly or indirectly, envy, lie to your face, and let you down.  The best way to deal with this is as follows:

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Never live your life for the approval of others. Everyone is a critic. Everyone comments on life through their own perspective. Keep doing you, stay true to yourself, and respect the input of true friends in your life, while remembering to be a great friend yourself. The more official you are, the more shots thrown your way. Let your thick skin be your bullet proof vest, and let your success fire back, not your mouth. Remember friends are human, but definitely reevaluate the relationships in your life and see if Spring Cleaning is in order.

Cosign? Nosign? Let’s discuss