How do you (specific you) define "friend"?

If you tell me that a particular individual is your friend, and I asked you to define that term as it pertains to you, how would you respond (besides likely telling me to fuck off and MYOB)?

What, exactly, is a friend? In real life, of course. Not here or on FB, but a real live person you interact with face to face at least some fraction of the time. How do they differ from family or acquaintances? Or do they?

You call someone your friend. What does that mean?

They’ll help me move stuff, and we occasionally consume alcohol together.

A friend to me is someone whom:

  1. I can confide in and know they will listen to me
  2. I enjoy enough to seek out their one-on-one company
  3. I can rely on in a pinch. For instance, if my car broke down I could ask them to help me out without feeling too self-conscious about it
  4. I’m concerned about their feelings. If they are sad, I’m sad for them. When they are happy, I’m happy for them.

For it to be true friendship, all the above has to apply in the other direction as well. I can’t be friends with someone if I doubt, for instance, that they really care about my feelings. It’s also hard for me to be friends with someone if the relationship comes with awkward stipulations (e.g., “We can be in touch and hang out together just as long as I don’t have a GF who might get jealous, which in that case I’ll instantly be forced to treat you like a leper, sorry.”) This is an issue I’m kind of struggling with right now.

A friend is someone I like, whose company I actively seek out on at least semi-regular occasion. They are not related to me by blood or marriage (family) nor are they people that I like but do not actively seek out (aquaintances). For me to consider you my friend, I have to actively look to spend at least some time with you if at all possible (you might be oversees), or be keen should you be the one doing the active seeking for time spent together, even if it’s once a year.

That time doesn’t have to be exclusive time - if I invite you to a large party, but I’m actively looking forward to seeing you there, you’re my friend. If I consciously look forward to seeing you at someone else’s BBQ, you’re my friend.

Basically, it’s about actively desiring someone’s company.

To put it another way, as I have tried to explain to some friends before: my friends are all those acquaintances that I am a little in love with.

ETA: Oh, yes, and they love me back, too. ywtf is right, reciprocity is key.

I like this.

I don’t need all the stuff that ywtf listed. Most of my friends I don’t want to confide in or need them to help me out. I have my brother and best friends for that. People I want to hang out with, though - friends.

Close friends are people I trust and share my life with in great detail if I choose.

Long time friends may overlap with close friends, but not necessarily, they could be people with a common interest whose company I enjoy on occasion, yet even if contact is limited the friendship remains over time.

Casual friends are people I may occasionally see or do things with, we may share other common friends and acquaintances, but I wouldn’t expect to maintain a relationship if there wasn’t some external reason that brought us together. I’ve had a lot of work friends on this basis. When one of us changes jobs we may rapidly lose all contact. However all of my long term friends started as work friends.

Yeah, that. My basic rule of thumb is this: If I would tell this person about the hilarious thing that happened to me at the gynecologist, we’re friends. If I would not, we’re acquaintances. Maybe friendly acquaintances, but acquaintances.

A friend is someone who helps you move. A true friend helps you move the bodies.

I think of it in terms of close friends, friends, and acquaintances.

Acquaintance: I know who you are and something about you. I’d chat with you if we were together in line at the grocery store.
Friend: I like you and interact with you (in some way) on a regular basis. I’d invite you over for dinner.
Close friend: At any given time, I probably know what you’re doing and generally what’s going on in your life. I’d go to your mother’s funeral with you even if I didn’t know her.

I should clarify my point about being able to confide in them.

What I really mean is honesty. Like, if they ask me how I’m doing, I’m not expected to say the perfunctory “fine and you?”. I can actually tell them I’m stressed out because of work, I’m a little down because of the season change, or I’m esctactic because a new gadget has come into my life. Doesn’t mean I will say all this; only that I feel comfortable enough to do so with them.

The degree to which I confide in a friend determines how close they are to me. A close friend is someone I could confess to murder to (my twin sister is the only one in that category). Someone just barely above an acquaintance, I might vent to about something relatively minor and impersonal (like my boss being annoying).

With acquaintances and below, I tend to keep disclosure very superficial and limited. Occasionally, I might reveal true feelings of a personal nature to a certain kind of acquaintance, but unless I actually enjoy their company enough to regularly seek their presence and I actually care about their emotional well-being, then they won’t really be considered a true friend of mine.

I would add that you can trust them not to violate the confidence. A friend is someone you can share vulnerabilities with.

You know that Batman was Superman’s friend when Superman told Batman about kryptonite.


Also, if I can text them right now and ask what they’re up to this weekend, we’re friends.

This has bugged me for years, every time I think about it.

I have really no idea what a friend is. I see them depicted in fiction but I don’t know anybody who behaves in real life the way “friends” are supposed to in stories or film.

I know that according to statistics (cite) friends are becoming more scarce and less of a resource. So I don’t think I’m too far out of the mainstream. I personally have never had what I would describe as a friend, and I am in my 5th decade. I have my wife, who is certainly my friend, but I don’t think most people count their spouse when asked how many friends they have.

So I will read this topic with interest because I am really curious what other people mean when they use the word.

I use the word very loosely.

There’s my friends who I actually call one the phone to plan stuff to do.
There’s my bar friends. These are people I don’t call but they are regulars at a neighborhood bar I go to. If they happen to be there when I get there; I’ll sit by them and share a few laughs.

Then there’s you guys. I know it may seem weird, but I consider this board to be a ‘friend’ in a manner of speaking. Maybe not anybody individually, but collectively yes.

Which leads me to a funny conversation I had with my sister:

We’re sitting in my living room watching History channel’s series documentary “Clash of the Gods” (Or something like that.)

Me: I have a friend that’s on this show.

Her: Really? Which one is he?

Me: I don’t know I forgot.

Her: Uh WTF? I thought you said he was your friend?

I then had to go on to explain to her what a message board was. I then had to explain to her that on this MB was some dude named CalMeacham and that he was the guy I was talking about.

Her: So you mean it’s just some random dude you don’t know shit from shine-ola?

Me: NO! Yes, I don’t really KNOW the guy but we’ve both been posting on the same board for many years.

Her: You’re weird.

Me (Sigh…)