Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Hierarchy of Friendship

Ok well I just got off the phone with my best girlfriend Ce-Ce, this girl and I have been tight since high school and well can honestly say she is probably the one friend that I have been consistently close to for the longest time.

Now Ce- Ce always has an agenda when she calls, there is always a “reason” or point to the call. Getting her to that point sometimes is daunting, but she always eventually gets there. So tonight’s agenda centered on her feeling dissed by this guy that she works with.

Well she doesn’t really even “work” with him-- just in the same building. I guess they struck up a convo one night at work and fell into this habit of eating on their break together. They are both huge sport fans and he invites her to join this sports round table club thing at work. Don’t ask me what that involves, cuz I can't begin to understand it. The problem is that their “friendship” that they developed at break time has not transferred over into this new environment, and well she feels hurt.

So she calls me for advice, and of course I have to give it to her cuz that is what I do best. Ha right, anyway I listen for twenty five minutes about how she is affected by this and give her my take on the situation.

You see, I have always had this Hierarchy of Friendship Theory that I subscribe to. Friendships fall into to very vast and differentiated levels in my opinion. Now I don’t have any slick titles for each level just simply refer to them as levels 1-4, maybe one day I will give them some hip labels, but for now this works well for my purposes.

First you have level 1 friendships: these are your closest friends. You are actually involved in their lives, you go to their weddings, hell you probably even stood up in their weddings. You are their kids godparent, you call them out on their shit, but always have their back when they've been wronged. They are the one’s you gladly take a day off work for to attend their relative’s funerals because you feel the need to be there for them. They hang at your house and even go on vacation with you on occasion. These are your inner circle friends and you can’t imagine your life without their presence.

Next you have level 2 friendships:
These are people you truly like, but they just haven’t yet worked their way into the inner circle. They have potential to reach that goal, but for whatever reason they aren’t quite there, and who knows may never reach that level. Could be for good reasons, could be that it just hasn’t happened yet. You are invited to social events they throw and you would invite them to your own 4th of July bash. They know you in pretty well but you may or may not pour out your angst to them, and some you don’t completely let them in your head. You value their opinion of you but if they slid down the level of friendship you might take it in stride, maybe you would put effort into working them back up the ladder but maybe you will just let it go.

Now we move onto level 3 friendships:
These are people you know, mostly friends of friends and people you work with.
Yah you like them and enjoy time with them when you are put in the same environment. But you don’t go out of your way to seek them out. You don’t have their home phone numbers, and know a little about their life, how many kids they have, what their hobbies are etc., But you wouldn’t probably say more than hi or nod in greeting to them if you saw them at the grocery store, well take that back you might shoot the shit for a few minutes. You really don’t give a damn what their opinion is on anything important and tend to say neutral in your conversations, you are polite and wouldn’t say anything negative to them, and NEVER tell them anything of relative personal importance.

Bottom of the Barrel --Level 4 friends
Now level 4 friends are people that well aren’t really friends but more acquaintances. They might be your neighbors, the owner of the dry cleaner shop you frequent who always refers to you as “How are you my friend” but really you are just a customer. THese might be people that attend the same parish or church as you, or even some people you work with. Your conversations and interactions with these people are limited to general small talk. You don’t discuss with them the bad week you have had, or the issues you are struggling with in your life. They are simply kind people you encounter here and there and exchange some mutually casual conversation with and that is it. They have no idea what motivates and makes you tick and well probably have no interest in finding out. And you definitely don’t give a rat’s ass about their opinion on you or anything they might think.

So after reminding Ce- Ce of the hierarchy, which she practically knows verbatim, I ask her Where does this “guy” fall in the whole scheme of friendship? Does the guy even know the basics about you to even register as a level 3 on the friendship scale??

My take is that he barely scores in the lower percentile of the level 4 friend. Now the question to her is do you really want to take the time and effort to bump this guy up on the scale? And can you just be happy with him hanging out at level 4?? And why would you let a level 4 friend even make you feel bad?

Hey just keeping it real Ce Ce, and fulfilling my commitment to you as a level 1 friend girl.