Introducing: The Sorta Friend

Last night, I decided to seek out the food pyramid of friendship (does the food pyramid even exist anymore? I think it’s now just some weird plate), which I guess would just be called the friendship pyramid.

I found two.

First, from Dr. Irene Levine’s  Friendship Blog.

Unless you have crazy eyes, you can’t read those labels, so let me help you out: From the bottom up, we’ve got casual friends, good friends, and best friends.

Second is a more detailed breakdown, from a website called Out On Limbs.

In this case there are seven layers. From bottom up: Not opposed (I assume this means someone you don’t hate), casual acquaintance, acquaintance, friend, good friend, cousin, sibling. Those seven layers are subsequently split into four groups: Family, Friend, Acquaintance, Other (that’s where the ‘I don’t hate her’ not opposed comes in).

To be honest, I’m not sold on either of these.

That first pyramid, in my opinion, is missing a base layer. There’s definitely a foundation of acquaintance that introduces friendship. You don’t go from nada to casual friend. You go from nada to acquaintance to casual friend.

But even of that, I’m not sure. I wondered once, on this blog, if there is a middle ground between acquaintance and friend. I think there is. I’ve met plenty of people in my life that I know too well to call  an acquaintance–we’ve hung out, we’ve chatted, maybe shared a drink or two (maybe)–but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are friends. The best term I can think of is, simply, sorta-friends.

Oh, Dennis? Sure I know him. We were sorta friends once.

Elizabeth? I don’t know that I’d say we’re friends, exactly, as we haven’t talked in a while. But I definitely know her and we’re always happy to see each other when we cross paths. We’re, like, sorta friends.

I think there must be–or should be–a more technical term for this relationship. To me, a casual friend is someone who you see a bit more and know a little better. You are buddies. But an acquaintance is someone whose name you know. Perhaps you know her stats–where she’s from, what she does–but that’s it.

Is there something in the middle of those two friend categories? Or am I merely overthinking this?

And if there is something in between acquaintance and casual friend, what should it be called?


Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Introducing: The Sorta Friend

  1. My in between is usually friend of a friend. Although it’s sorta clunky to say at times. 🙂

    I think a circle or overlapping circles might work better than a pyramid though. Like a venn diagram? You can have a circle for friends of friends and sorta friends all overlapping but not all that close. That way you have a place to put someone you don’t know all that well but wouldn’t ignore if you saw them in line at the grocery store.

  2. katieleigh

    I read the word “friendish” in a book once and thought that was a good term for the in-between. Not quite friends, but friend-ish. (Not grammatically correct, but so expressive.) These pyramids definitely don’t tell the whole story.

    • alison

      I often describe the friend-ish situation as friendly, as in, “I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but we’re friendly.”

  3. anonymous

    I don’t really agree with the 2nd one either: it takes for granted the closeness of family ties – my siblings and I are not close at all – I don’t think I’d even consider them friends, really. We don’t hate each other (usually), but they aren’t people I feel all that comfortable around (actually, the same goes for most of my cousins…). (On a totally unrelated note – that “food plate” thing is awesome, except for the dairy thing. Dairy really isn’t that good for you and it TAKES calcium from your body to digest, it doesn’t GIVE you calcium. A salad has more calcium – and the kind your body can actually use! – than a glass of milk…and there’s less risk of weird growth hormones [especially if it’s organic] But I digress…)

  4. I definitely agree that there is an in between phase/friendship type, but I also don’t know what to call it. Sorta friend sounds cool, I like friendish (but I also like to make up words and a lot of them have that -ish ending), and I LOVE the idea of a friendship diagram.

  5. Renee

    I don’t have an ideal term for “sort of” friends, but I wholeheartedly agree there should be something! For some reason, a major pet peeve of mine is people who claim to be “friends” with someone they have known for ten minutes. This strikes me as a real misconception (or perhaps delusion) as to what it means to really know someone and be their friend, More likely, though, it could be my own insecurity that it takes me so long to feel that bond with another person.


    Yes, this could apply to your friends partners as well. You hang out with them, with your friends and they’re more than acquaintances, but a lot of the time you’re not really close enough to call them friends.

  7. Max Epstein

    How about POF–POtential Friend. If it doesn’t last long, it’s only frienporary. If they get jealous, they feel frienvy. 🙂

  8. Oh, I just call them acquaintances, or if we’re on the way to becoming friends, I say “I know so and so through this group” or “we’re friendly at work” or “we take a dance class together”

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