Acquainting the 60 Blog

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Acquaintance:  A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.

What differentiates a friend from an acquaintance?  In this age of social media, how many “friends” do you have on Facebook?  Are they really all “friends”?

I remember a brief conversation I had with my mother when I was a young girl.  I came home from school one day and started talking about “my friend did this” and “my friend said that.”  My mother asked me if this girl was really a “friend” or an “acquaintance.”   She taught me the difference between the two and, fifty years later, I still see the value in her words.

I have over four hundred friends on Facebook.  A hundred of those are probably people I can picture in my head.  What they currently look like, and maybe even what they looked like when we were kids.  The other three hundred are people I went to school with or met through jobs throughout my career.  And of those hundred whose faces I can recall, maybe fifty would be considered friends.  And then maybe twenty of those would be good friends.

The root of acquaintance is the Old French word acointer, a verb meaning “make known.” Being the acquaintance of a person or topic means that you know something about it.  An acquaintance is less intimate than a friend, like a person in your class whose name you know, but that’s it.  (

It has everything to do with perception. Webster gives words a definition, but not meaning.  The evolution of social networking has changed the understanding of the word “friend.”  Someone becomes an acquaintance because you’ve had some sort of forced or passing interaction with them.  A friend is someone that you seek out; whether it is for comfort or pleasure is irrelevant.  Even still, this is certainly not an all-encompassing definition.  Each of us provides our own definition that suits our psychological needs.  (

Supposedly, telling the difference between a friend and an acquaintance is quite easy. However, there are still many individuals who easily get fooled by others that make them believe they are their real friends, when in fact they aren’t. To prevent this, there are actually some hints that will guide you in discerning a friend from an acquaintance.

Foremost, you can gauge the level of your relationship with someone in terms of the depth of your interactions.  Acquaintances are those people who, even if you see them everyday, like those who work in the same place as you do, talk superficially with you.  A friend, on the other hand, is someone who shares a deeper level of interaction or communication.  Deep communication doesn’t imply frequent.  In fact, the truest of friends are those who, despite distance, still manage to catch up with each other once in a while and talk as if time has not passed by.

Secondly, a friend and an acquaintance have different levels of support for your interests.  A friend would most likely support you no matter what your endeavors are, whereas an acquaintance will just hang out with you whenever you have the same interests as them.  For example, if you are a painter, and you happen to open your own art gallery, you can spot your friends because they are also happy when you are happy; even if they aren’t fond of visual arts.  Oftentimes, those who only like you because you paint well are merely plain acquaintances.

Thirdly, with regard to the provision of favors, a friend is someone who either asks for one, or gives favors.  He may contact you because he needs you for something, or ask you about your problems so that he may be able to assist you.  Acquaintances are those who ask one-sided favors from you, and nothing else.  They are the ones who want to benefit the most from your relationship.

Lastly, an acquaintance or a friend can be identified in terms of physical presence. However, this does not mean that whoever is seen to be more physically present with you is already a friend.  Sometimes, people happen to be there by chance when you’re also there.  Most likely, these people are just your acquaintances.  True friends are those who really spend time with you, like having a long one-on-one talk with you some place else, or simply visiting each other’s homes and acting as if they actually own your house.  (

Can you name a few friends who can fill out these categories?

  • Friends are those with whom you share a deeper level of interaction.
  • Friends have all out support for your interests and happiness, unlike acquaintances.
  • Friends don’t do one-sided favors, unlike acquaintances.
  • Friends like to hang out with you on a much more personal level.



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