Degrees of Friendship

I hate it when people refer to friendship as hyperbole. “________ is my BEST friend”: a statement that is overused to give the impression of an abundance friends. Can one have many best friends? Instead, friendship is an honor not to be trivialized by tossing around grandiose monikers.

After receiving an email today from a friend I haven’t spoken to in over a year, it started me thinking about friendships and the kinds of friends I’ve had in my life. Most of them can be classified accordingly:


best friends, for me, are very few and far between; I can probably count on one hand the best friends I’ve had or HAVE in my life; most of these people have withstood the test of time and the tests of friendship; they know me, all of me, and love me anyway, and I feel the same towards them

close friends are those that I share a strong bond with; people with whom I allow into many aspects of my life; I would say they really know me, too, but not as completely, perhaps

transient friends are those who have made it into the friend zone (most often the close friend zone), but somehow, for one reason or another, the friendship was lost

situational friends are classified in several categories: work friends, neighbors, hockey friends, high school friends, college friends, online friends… those I’m only friends with in particular situations (not to say these don’t transcend over into any of the previous categories)

acquaintances are the people I meet that I’m friendly with; there is often some commonality that bonds us

In thinking about the content of the email, I’m left stymied as to how to respond or IF I should respond. From a friend, who started out as a neighbor and became a close friend, this note seemed to have come out of the blue. I regarded her as the transient kind because, slowly and over a period of time, we lost our connection. It was never something I could put my finger on. Nothing ever HAPPENED, to my knowledge, to sever the friendship or at least diminish it. I’d tried on a few occasions to query her, ask if there was something I’d done or not done that caused us to become estranged. She’d  caulk it up to life just simply getting in the way, and I’d let it go. But to no avail because nothing would change.

Last year, a For Sale sign went up on her front lawn. She’d never told me she was planning on moving. I was so hurt to come home & see that sign, with not a word, and no word to follow. Our children had been friends, growing up together; I’d considered her part of my chosen/extended family, often inviting her family to our family parties. She’d even called me from the hospital when she was in labor with her daughter.

On her moving day, I’d decided to buy her a “Best wishes on your new home” card, in which I wrote how I’d missed her and how our neighborhood would not be the same without her. When I handed her the card, she hugged me and started to cry. She’d said that a lot had gone on that she couldn’t talk about, now, but once she got settled, she’d call and tell me all about it. That was over a year ago. I’ve not heard from or seen her since. She’s even been in our neighborhood to drop her daughter off for a play date at another neighbors, and not once has she stopped by.

I felt hurt and confused turned to anger and resentment. I’d written her off, realizing friendship is a two-way street. There is only so many times one can try. I felt like it was time to let go.

So, today, I get this half apology/half confession of the terrible- time- she- is- going- through email that I must have read five times. I look at it, and I’m just not sure what to do with it.

In it, she says she hopes we can get together. Part of me wants to call her and ask her what the hell is up. Part of me wants to give her a hug. And part of me wants to not respond, as not to set myself up for that kind of hurt again. I’d gotten to a place where I’d put our friendship in the past, and left it there.

Friendship is so complicated, and my idealistic self thinks it should not be.


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