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Lately I feel like the term “friend” has became broad and somewhat ambiguous. A lot of people who you would call a friend would be who I call a hangout buddy. Having a friend and having a hangout buddy are totally different. I’ve had both of these all throughout my life and have mistaken too many hangout buddies as friends. Through these experiences and learning from others’ experiences, I would define a friend as someone who is not only consistent and present in your life but also dependent and trustworthy. And I would define a hangout buddy as someone who you would normally spend time with on an irregular basis. Most likely it’s the girl or guy you hit up when you’re bored and have nothing else going on and just feel like doing something with somebody, although you’re not really close friends. But it could also be your workout partner, poker mate, or drinking buddy, for example.
Friends would mostly be people you’ve known for at least a few years, typically from school, church or just your childhood. Hangout buddies are more commonly acquired from work, parties, bars and casual get togethers—there are exceptions to this, yes, but this is a general outline. When I would first meet them, what-would-be hangout buddies would share many interests or hobbies with me. So the reason for exchanging contact information should be obvious, but sometimes the intent could be a bit vague. “They just seem cool” is what I would think. But that is not normally enough to be a buddy or friend. These types of contacts are the least likely to become significant people in your life. There may be times where you do become decent friends with someone like that if they seem genuine, but I wouldn’t count on it. Get to know someone through experience and see how things turn out. Don’t jump the gun on who you bring into your life.
A hangout buddy isn’t bad to have at all. They can add good company and fun at hangouts and nights out. And it’s a dynamic element to have in your life. But it becomes unhealthy when you start trying to rely on them to be your friend when they’re really not. They’re an acquaintance. And it’s perfectly okay to have acquaintances, but again, a common mistake is to perceive this person to be a close friend. Though some hangout buddies can slowly become close friends, it’s not wise to want to be closer and assume that they want the same thing if the relationship is mostly superficial. Not all relationships evolve into closer bonding. Some relationships stay the same and others just die.
Depending on the hangout buddy, it can lead to something good or bad. If you need to remove a hangout buddy from your life for being a bad influence or for not sharing the interests you thought they did, then remove them. It would be unproductive for both parties if you let circumstances continue more than necessary. Don’t let too much time pass because after a while it will just be in your head that they’re a part of your life. And removing them will be more difficult as time progresses. But be sure this is what you need, because sometimes you just need a break and to get things together with yourself first. But if it turns into something positive, be proud of yourself. You picked a good one.
Clouded by Emotions
Your “heart” can be deceived. What I mean by that is just because you get comfortable with someone doesn’t mean it can’t be toxic. And while your emotions might tell you that it’s okay and that they mean well, your brain is yelling at you to GTFO. Of course, without emotions, life is meaningless. But don’t let them limit you and keep you in a wasteful life if you’re not really benefitting or feeling support from your current relationships. It’s okay to be logical about life and withdraw emotionally for a bit to analyze your own situation. Make changes if you need to. It’s not a mistake to make sacrifices to really make your life better. Be aware of who you are and who you want to be with. Things can go completely fine as long as you keep yourself in check with the reality of it all. And at the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you. You are your biggest responsibility. So make sure you have and keep good friends and/or good hangout buddies. And more importantly, learn to be a good friend yourself. If you’ve been in “so many failed relationships” and are in constant battle with that, think about the pattern. What’s the one common factor in all of those “failed relationships”? You.
“But it’s hard to make friends.”
Even though many people jokingly complain on social media about how they have no friends, usually with a picture of them eating ice cream while watching The Office on Netflix, most people I would say already have their own set and circle of friends and life patterns. So as easy as making new connections or meetups can be with all these apps and interconnecting features, having close friends is not as achievable, especially when you pass college age. Research states that college is around the last time you make long term friends.
My advice on making real friends, if you don’t think you have any, is to go out and meet people at really any conventional area (parks, jobs, bars, or local events). Don’t let your own habits keep you confined in a repetitive lifestyle. It’s healthy to add something fresh now and again. But also have a good sense of discernment on the values a person has. Some people simply just don’t want, nor need to be friends with each other. And that’s totally normal. Peanut butter doesn’t taste good with eggs. But both are really tasty by themselves (for me, at least). Find people that you mesh with well and try to build on that. Sometimes a good friend has been in front of you the whole time and you haven’t realized and acted enough on it.
In distinguishing this, it’s important to think about the friends you have and question the real reason you have these friends. It’s even more important to have good friends as friends and not just a slew of hangout buddies who you call friends. Having hangout buddies is fine as long as you have real friends first and don’t confuse the two. Hangout buddies are cool, but friends are better.
So, how do you know if you have a good circle of friends and a healthy balance hangout buddies? That entirely depends on your values and what you want. No one is perfect, and you’ll have quarrels here and there like with anyone else. That’s life. But if you share interests with your squad of friends, you support each other, you’re having fun, you’re being productive, and you’re doing what you want to do, then who could complain?