Who Qualifies to be Considered a Friend?

Learning to differentiate between someone who is only a mere acquaintance and someone who is a true friend

I have come across a number of individuals who casually refer to someone they know as a friend when in actual fact that person is only a mere acquaintance. These individuals should be more careful about making such statements because of the ramifications that flow from conferring such an esteemed and exalted status on that person!

What is the big deal you may ask about this practice of calling someone a friend when he is not actually a friend?

Misrepresentation of that Person

It has a lot to do with the misrepresentation of that person. A few may take it that it is good or advantageous to get to know that person better since he is a friend of your friend. Others may boldly venture into a business deal with that person based on the fact that he is considered a friend of your friend.

But when that business venture goes down the drain and these individuals part company on unpleasant terms, you may be blamed. Of course, the individual concerned should have carried out his own due diligence. He should not have merely relied on the statement that he is a friend!

Who is an Acquaintance?

Now, who exactly is an acquaintance? He or she is someone you have met and got to know a little, probably in an office, temple, club or association setting. He may also be a former colleague or a neighbour.

He has remained merely an acquaintance because there was not enough of a ‘pull factor’ for either of you to progress that relationship.

All Kinds of Friends

You become a friend of another person when you both share common values and probably a number of similar interests. You also truly enjoy each other’s company. Your shared interests and values are the ‘pull factors’ that cause you both to gravitate towards each other and thereby keep the friendship alive and thriving.

It would seem, therefore that you are both charter members of a special grouping called MAS i.e. Mutual Admiration Society!

However, if only you are investing in this so-called friendship, then do not waste your time. If the other party does not reciprocate, move on with dignity and do not try to force a friendship. Unfortunately, some individuals are unable to take a hint.

Friends for a Season / Reason

Over time, one realises that there are all kinds of friends. Initially, they meet the basic requirements as stated above. But over time, their true characters surface. Former colleagues and friends conveniently forget the favours and the assistance rendered. For some, you are currently not in a position to be useful to them any more and so they just disappear having already benefitted from this so-called friendship in the past.

The other reality is that some friendships fray at the edges over time. Not enough effort was spent nourishing these friendships. For some others, your repeated career successes and achievements may have surprised them beyond belief. Jealousy makes an unkind appearance and begins to rear its ugly head!

While a true friend will always be happy for you, those who are pretending to be a friend will display their true colours.  Some are only happy if you fumble, drop the ball and hopefully remain at their mediocre level!

Always Keep a Group of Good Friends

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine from Penang sent me a wonderful and insightful three text message. But I need to let you know that was because I am still using an old Nokia phone, not a smartphone.

Far too many people, I hear, send you all kinds of, mostly irrelevant messages, via whatsapp without realising what a nuisance that has become. I constantly hear of people moaning about having to delete such messages without even bothering to read them.

This friend received that message from another mutual friend now based in Melbourne, Australia. He too was sufficiently impressed with the message that he wanted to further share it. Now that is a truly great circle of friendship.

What Was this Message About?

Friends are the Bulwarks of Life

“Many years ago, after I got married, I was sitting on a couch on a hot humid day, sipping orange juice during a visit to my father. As I talked about adult life, marriage, responsibilities and obligations, my father cast a clear, sober look at me.

‘Never forget your friends‘ he advised, ‘they will become more important as you get older‘. Regardless of how much you love your family and the children you happen to have, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally, do activities with them and call them from time to time“.

What strange advice I thought!

I had just entered the married world, I am an adult and surely my wife and the family we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life.

Yet, I obeyed him and kept in touch with my friends and occasionally increased their number. Over the years, I became truly aware that my father knew what he was talking about.

In as much as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a man, friends are the bulwarks of his life.

After 50 years of Life, this is what I Learned.

Time passes. Life goes on.

The distances increase.

Children grow up and become independent. Although it breaks the parents’ heart, they are often separated from them.

Jobs come and go.

Illusions, desires, attractions and sex weaken.

People do what they should not do.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favours.

The races are over.

But true friends are always there

No matter how long or how many miles away they are.

A friend is never more distant that the reach of a need, reaching out to you, intervening in your favour, waiting for you with open arms or blessings for your life.

When we started this adventure called LIFE
Wwe did not know the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead.
We did not know how much we would need from one another.
Love your parents.
Take care of your children
but always keep a group of good friends.

( The author of this sharing is unknown but he or she summed it up quite well. I have also taken the liberty to edit the article. )

In the twilight of our lives, if we can count five individuals as true friends, consider that a real blessing. And if you happen to have another five friends, then that again is your extremely good fortune.

Celebrities and politicians who claim to have hundreds of friends are only deceiving themselves.  Having the company of hundreds of supporters, gushing teenagers or hangers-on, however, is quite possible.

Much too often, some of these individuals mistake ardent supporters from their party or club as their friends. A number of insecure leaders who delight in surrounding themselves with a large retinue of sycophants, often make the tragic mistake of thinking that these toady individuals are actually their friends.

To their surprise and dismay, these leaders soon discover that these characters will, when the chips are down, desert them faster than fleeing rats from a sinking ship!

In summing up, always remember to keep and cultivate a group of good and trusted friends.



12 thoughts on “Who Qualifies to be Considered a Friend?

  1. Good article Dad, i have some people who call me a friend but i realize it’s just one way.

    Love Mark

    Sent from Mark’s iPhone 6s


  2. Well articulated, Ben, and your late dad got it spot on when he advised you a long time ago to never forget your friends and that they would grow in importance as you grew older …
    Studies of relationships (friendships included) have again and again shown that people in good relationships with family, friends and community are happier, healthier and live longer than those who are reclusive or in bad / toxic relationships. Loneliness is a killer.

  3. Appreciate the feedback Denis. It was, however, not my late father who shared that advice but that other person who shared that particular story. True, authentic friends are a real blessing.

  4. good one dad.. ive learnt a lot from all my past friendships.. some things i wish i knew but mostly grateful for all the lessons learnt..

  5. Hi Ben,

    Very interesting article and thank you for sharing.

    I do not see it in FB. You may have omitted it in error.



    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thanks for your feedback Eddie. Appreciate it very much. Have not got around to posting it in FB. I count you as one of my faithful regular readers. Friendships that stand the test of time, as ours does, are truly a blessing to cherish!

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