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How do you define a 'friend' (as opposed to acquaintance, say)

(140 Posts)
Aloha Thu 22-Feb-07 22:48:31

Interested in this because of threads on MN and because I interviewed a psychologist recently who said you couldn't say someone was a friend unless you'd known them for several years, which took me aback a bit.
What in your view makes someone a friend?

HappyDaddy Thu 22-Feb-07 22:50:25

I don't think time makes a friend. If you know you can trust them enough to talk about the most personal stuff, that makes a friend, to me.

hunkerdave Thu 22-Feb-07 22:51:23

Crikey, when someone's known me for several years, the last thing they call me is a friend

I think that the psychologist you interviewed is talking bollocks, to be frank (or dave) about it.

For instance.

I have known VVV for precisely <counts on fingers> eighteen months. Yet she is a fantastic friend. I actually love her. I've slept with her, even. So there.

harpsichordcarrier Thu 22-Feb-07 22:51:39

several years?? good grief.
I would say, someone with whom you have an intimate and trusting relationship

hunkerdave Thu 22-Feb-07 22:52:53

<sneaks a look at HC's vulva>

Aloha Thu 22-Feb-07 22:53:21

Ah, hunker so that is how you define friendship is it? You minx

Do you expect reciprocal sharing to call it a friendship? Who goes first? Ever since I interviewed this woman I've been thinking, 'a few years? Really?'

harpsichordcarrier Thu 22-Feb-07 22:53:23

be my guest

HappyDaddy Thu 22-Feb-07 22:54:26

Lezzing is friendship? WOW!

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 22:55:35

hi aloha

genuine non loaded question... what is your definition? did you have an articulated definition of friendship that didn't match up? or was it a "gut feel" thing?

i ask because i don't think i could define good friendship and don't think i have a gift for it ... luckily my friends do and are willing to overlook my shortcomings...

Aero Thu 22-Feb-07 22:55:51

Isn't friendship about feelings though? I've known lots of people for many years, yet don't consider them more than acquaintances, and others I've not known long at all I consider as friends.

scatterbrain Thu 22-Feb-07 22:55:51

Certainly for me I would have to agree with Aloha's psychologist ! I tend to stick to my very old friends - although I have newer friends through dd's school - they aren't who I would talk to about anything personal, I just don't know them well enough, they are not close enough to me. I would even feel uncomfortable talking about stuff like house prices, salary etc - but with my real friends anything goes.

I think it's a trust thing - I have trouble trusting someone until I ahve known them quite a while !

Also I think with some people you just click amd get on - others it takes longer with.

I have had a few neighbours adopt me in the last years and take me on as their new best friend - t was stifling - I couldn't stand it - too much too soon - I'm afraid I had to just run away !

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 22:56:30

hmm - i would think there would be some kind of reciprocity or at least quid pro quo...

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 22:57:19

and at least equality of confidence... i.e. sharing of sensitive info...

Heathcliffscathy Thu 22-Feb-07 22:57:28

someone you can turn to, and someone that you can weather rifts with and I'm afraid I agree that time is the test of both.

Not that I'm doyenne of friendships. I'm not.

Aloha Thu 22-Feb-07 22:58:48

I don't really know. I suppose I have known my friends for many years (two of them for over 30!) and worked with others for several years so saw them every day for long periods, so I can sort of see the point. I thought it was a bit depressing though. She said until that point she would class someone as an acquaintance. I was writing a feature about children's friendships actually, for a parenting title, and got on to adult friendships very briefly. I was a bit shocked. It seemed rather depressing somehow and couldn't quite articulate why.

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 22:59:21

<<waves at sophable... cautiously... as fellow doyennes of billecart salmon and cool restaurants...>>>

HappyDaddy Thu 22-Feb-07 22:59:27

If a new person i meet talks too much about nothing, I know we wont become real friends. Someone who can be quiet and listen can, though. But that's just me.

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 23:00:33

children's friendships aren't like that though... they make very deep friendships - not always long lasting - what did she make of that?

hunkerdave Thu 22-Feb-07 23:01:08

I think that it's depressing because if you have to wait several years, as an adult, to make an acquaintance into a friend, it's a very long wait with lots of false starts.

Aero Thu 22-Feb-07 23:01:23

I do have friends I've known most of my life too and they are definitely friends - just meant time isn't what makes a friendship. The feeling is reciprocated (as far as I know ) with my friends. I also know people I like very much as friends, but there are only certain friends I'd share 'everything' with.

hunkerdave Thu 22-Feb-07 23:02:01

It depends what sort of person you are, and what sort of people you meet too, IMO.

I am more discerning about my bedfellows, definitely, as I've got older.

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 23:02:51

aloha, if i may be so bold, i think i sort of get what you mean... if you can only have friends who you've known since year dot - it means that all friendships are diminishing rather than increasing - especially as we age - this particular notion of friendship can only augment our fear of mortality... imho of course.

Aloha Thu 22-Feb-07 23:03:05

The feature was more about children who had difficulties making friends (too agressive, too shy etc) though I think the whole issue of how children make friends is interesting, especially compared to adults...hmmm...

Aloha Thu 22-Feb-07 23:04:59

Yes, BK and Hunker, it was depressing because I felt, oh, right, so even if I meet someone now I think is nice, it doesn't count as a friendship for years and years and until that point, well, what is the point? That was really stunningly inarticulate! And I am off wine for Lent too.

Sobernow Thu 22-Feb-07 23:05:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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