Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Acquaintance Relationship

What is an acquaintance? According to the dictionary it is in most cases {and of which this is all about}: a person known to one, but usually not a close friend.

There seem to be many types of acquaintances we encounter in our lives. Let us divide them up in a few categories so we may delve into the topic I am reaching for more clearly.

Situational Acquaintance: these are the people you meet and have contact with due to life circumstances. Such as the various service and goods providers one comes into contact with as a consumer. Ranging from the butcher who is always at the counter the days you show up to the market to the police officer who gives you a ticket.

Family Acquaintance: these are the people who you know due to their proximity to a family member.

Friendly Acquaintance: these are the people you are connected in some fashion be it work, friends, family or indeed any other social connection, but your relationship is not what one could classify as a friends relationship. Let us divide them into two subcategories:

               A} People who you know but have no friendship feelings for
               B} People who you are almost friends with but due to many reasons you are not friends

It is the Friendly Acquaintance {B} relationship I wish to discuss, so now that we have that out of the way:

I have been thinking that perhaps this is the most vital of our social relationships in some ways. You know who these people are.
They are the people who you may have contact with on occasion, they are one of your friends other friends or they are connected to you via work, or a social group. You recognize each other and know each other by name. You will stop and exchange pleasantries and then move on about your day. You do not often initiate contact with these people and when you see them it is a pleasant surprise. You like these folks but for some reason you are not friends.
So what is the role of this social position in a healthy social circle? Support of the social structure would be my guess. If it is your friends’ best friend, or your study buddy in some class, the best role one can fulfill is the moral and social support role.
When you are in the role of friendly acquaintance you are part of the backdrop of another’s life and they serve in this capacity for you in return. They are your peers and they are in some ways part of the defining characteristics of your personal social circle. You are in return the same for them.

The nice thing about these relationships is they tend to honesty. Now I am not talking about those people who one may have rivalry with. Enemies and rivals is a completely different social structure system than what I am talking about. A friendly acquaintance is not a rival.
A friendly acquaintance typically has no reason to bullshit you and often you can count on them for a neutral point of view when you need to talk something out but talking with friends or family is either not possible or would be socially awkward.

There seems to be an aversion to admitting that a person is not a friend but is actually an acquaintance. Everyone must be friends, especially in the FaceBook era with the social media site referring to all of one’s social contacts as friends. This aversion to referring to people as an acquaintance is doing us all a disservice.
Enjoy your acquaintances and be the best acquaintance you can be for your society. Approach these relationships with best of intentions.