Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How quick are you to call someone ”friend” and how much of a true friend are they?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26834points) October 2nd, 2016

So often I hear people calling someone they met in familiar circles but have a good working relationship ”my friend”. They do not spend time at the person’s home, go golfing with them, and maybe not even know their children’s name(s). How quick do you call a person a friend, and how much of a true friend are they? If you were in a jamb at 3am in the morning will they get out of bed and come to your aid, loan you a sizable amount of cash, or let you use their AAA, etc.?

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13 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

A true friend is one you implicitly trust to take care of your wife, kids and assets in your absence.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I make a point of not testing my friends on such matters and have thus far been extremely fortunate in not having the need to do so. I find myself often enough on the giving end of the equation and God knows I’m grateful to be in a position to help as opposed to requiring aid from others. I’m constantly the recipient of innumerable kindnesses from people that I don’t anticipate. For example, I discovered about a year ago that the owner of a restaurant we loved and frequented 2 to 3 times weekly when my kids were growing up had arranged with his brother, the owner of an upscale restaurant in the city where my daughter attended college to allow my spoiled kid to eat FREE without my knowledge simply because we had tipped the staff of college girl waitresses exorbitantly at our favorite eatery. To my great distress, my clueless now 41 year old daughter casually told us of the wonderful dinners she enjoyed every Friday for the price of a tip. When I challenged her on the ethical
implications of her behavior, she simply replied that she was considered “family” and therefore treated as such. Can you believe that??? For the life of me, I can’t determine whether or not I have failed the kid in her rearing. I would like to fault her for this clear episode of freeloading at the expense of kind people, except that she remains to this day a person who will give away whatever she (or I) own at the slightest sign of need. I frankly can’t decide which fault is worse, but have little doubt that I remain responsible for both. It troubles ne considerably that a kid of MINE could arrive at her forties with so casual a regard for money. Just another of God’s endless little jokes.

johnpowell's avatar

You are my buddy until you are my enemy.

Shiiiiiiiiitttttt. A few hours ago I was on my porch having a smoke and a guy was rummaging through my dumpster for cans. I said I had a bunch and said he could have them. Gave him about three bucks in cans.

I also had a pizza in the oven so I offered him some. Once it was done we chatted about sportsball (which I do not care about) and ate some pizza on my porch. Then he walked off to sleep in my backyard or something.

He was nice.

When I put out cans by the dumpster they are usually gone in ten minutes. There is a constant stream of homeless here.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@stanleybmanly I make a point of not testing my friends on such matters and have thus far been extremely fortunate in not having the need to do so.
If they are true friends they would not need to be tested, if you have a serious need they would be there, wouldn’t they?

For example, I discovered about a year ago that the owner of a restaurant we loved and frequented 2 to 3 times weekly when my kids were growing up had arranged with his brother, the owner of an upscale restaurant in the city where my daughter attended college to allow my spoiled kid to eat FREE without my knowledge simply because we had tipped the staff of college girl waitresses exorbitantly at our favorite eatery
That was a friendly act, or some would say a nice act, but it was predicated on your generosity to their wait staff. If they had a conversation with another would they say they were letting the kids of their ”friend” eat at cost, of for the price of a tip? The remanding issues is interesting and might spawn another question, but I can’t fold it into this one as it deals with a different issue than who is a friend, associate, affiliate, companion, crony, etc.

@johnpowell I also had a pizza in the oven so I offered him some. Once it was done we chatted about sportsball (which I do not care about) and ate some pizza on my porch.
If you crossed paths with him 10–12 more times, broke bread, chewed the fat over sports, where you put him, distant friend, acquaintance, affiliate, etc.?

YARNLADY's avatar

I am very slow to call anyone a friend. Most people I have known for any period of time were nothing more than acquaintances. I have had a total of three true friends in my 73 years of life, and I am no longer in touch with any of them.

At this point in time I have zero friends and the only acquaintances I have are online.

SmashTheState's avatar

I sometimes use the term “friend” because it’s socially accepted, but what I really mean is “acquaintance.” I’m not sure friends exist. Or can exist. The few times in my life I’ve extended trust to people they broke my heart, and that includes family. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easier and less painful to exist without close personal relationships, and I think most people eventually come to the same conclusion (which is why we end up with the situation we’re in, where we use the term “friend” to describe people who are merely social acquaintances).

The friends I made have slipped and strayed.
And who’s the one that cares
A trifling lot and best forgot -
And that’s my tale, and theirs.
Then if my friendships break and bend
There’s little need to cry
The while I know that every foe
Is faithful till I die.

- Dorothy Parker

Stinley's avatar

This is an interesting question. I feel that I don’t have any best friends. I have plenty of people for whom I would do the things mentioned in the details above and I know they would do them for me too but it’s a proximity relationship. They are close by, in a similar position and we like each other. Is that friendship? I’m not sure.

I do think that I’m not easy to get to know well – I’m friendly but reserved so I only let people get so far. Also people start to annoy me after a while and I don’t want to have to spend time with them. I am not confident about asking people to do things with me so rarely organise any activities or social occasions. I rely on other to organise and I am happy to turn up.

I feel hesitant about calling these people my friends so wouldn’t dream of calling an acquaintance a friend.

jca's avatar

I am finding it a hard question to answer, yet it’s a good question and I gave it a GQ.

I think for myself, there are a very few people that I’ve known a long time and would do almost anything for me and vice versa. We’ve been around each other’s parties, family events, life events, vacationed with each other, friends to the end.

Yet there are people I’ve known for less of a time but yet I feel close to them for some reason. Either they’ve offered for me to visit and we chat and they’ve reached out in a time of need, or they’ve shown themselves to be kind in some way that indicate that they may be people that are good to be friendly with. It’s not a black and white thing for me, and it’s hard to quantify. I call them friends but they’re not in the same category as the first, yet I value them just as much.

I have friends on the internet that I may never meet but yet I consider them a friend. There are friends I knew 30 years ago and have not seen since, but we’ve been in touch on Facebook and I still consider them a friend.

funkdaddy's avatar

If it’s just me, being natural, then everyone is treated as a friend until there is a reason not to. Being friendly and familiar in person feels “right” to me. It’s warm and open, anything else makes me feel smaller and defensive.

That makes some people more comfortable, and so it can lead to some really good interactions in a lot less time, like @johnpowell‘s example above. One friendly gesture can kick off a whole conversation or relationship with the right person, where a cordial response will just be passed over.

Some people see it as contrived, or desperate, or it makes them uncomfortable. So in anything but social situations, I generally just back off and keep things “professional”. With my kids around, I’m more cordial as well because my focus is usually elsewhere. Friendly takes attention and thought.

If I’m talking about someone to a third party though, I generally go with what can be backed up. A “friend” in that situation is someone I’ve met more than once and had some meaningful interactions with one on one. I also consider what they would call me. But there’s no high bar to get over, if we get along one on one, then you’re a friend.

I find the friendlier I am, the happier I am in a situation. For years I treated it like it was the other way around.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Stinley I have plenty of people for whom I would do the things mentioned in the details above and I know they would do them for me too but it’s a proximity relationship. They are close by, in a similar position and we like each other. Is that friendship?
Could be if they are friends for more than strategic reasons. If they came through in a clutch but you caught them in a lie, especially if it were to you, would you be able to call them on the lie and if they apologized roll on with no grudge, or would you keep that as a permanent mark on their record and have them forever on probation after that? If they come through in a clutch but you do not know their favorite foods, movies they liked, if they ever went to summer camp, or any of their childhood friends, activities or haunts, are they, or can they still be a friend?

Also people start to annoy me after a while and I don’t want to have to spend time with them.
If their friendship is predicated on your comfort level with them, how good of a friend can they be even if they do favorable things for you?

@jca It’s not a black and white thing for me, and it’s hard to quantify.
Which is why some get twisted and tied because they are hemmed up financially or mentally with people who are truly acquaintances, cronies, affiliates, companions, etc., people think are friends. You may feel obligated to do something for a person you believe is a friend who in the end or the long run can cost you money, time, or more.

Stinley's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central if someone lied to me, I would forgive, certainly, but I would not forget easily. I would be wary of them and their motives towards me.

I’m still not convinced that knowing stuff about someone makes them your friend. Good grief, through Facebook, I know so much detail about other people’s lives – all the stuff you mention – yet I would refer to them as ‘someone I used to work with, that I’m friends with on Facebook’. Not a friend, in my definition.

I think friendships have got to be about how you feel about the person, not the time you have spent with them or the knowledge you have of their lives. Sure, these things are there in a friendship, but they don’t make a friendship. I think.

Don’t take this as truth, though, as I have 4 friends by this definition and one of them is my husband….

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: I think, for myself, as far as getting caught up doing things for people it’s on a case by case basis. It would depend on what the favor would be and what my availability and willingness was at the time. I am not sure if I’m getting your meaning so I’m not sure if this is what you were referring to.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ I am not sure if I’m getting your meaning so I’m not sure if this is what you were referring to.
What I meant was even if you do whatever for another on a case by case basis, that case by case basis is often determined by how much a person is deemed a friend. Some people will go deep in the favor bank and do a large solid for someone they do not know well, but often they would do it quicker for someone they count as a friend even if that person is not truly a friend. Sometimes people will do something that came at some inconvenience to them for one they saw as a friend but afterwards realize they were more of a very good acquaintance instead, or they find the person they thought was a friend they are not willing to go that deep in the favor bank for them as they would true friends they grew up with from back in the day.

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