I was recently out with a good friend watching the New York Mets shut out the L.A. Dodgers. After two and half beers, and way too many awkward interactions, we got to talking about levels of friendship.
At what point does someone “officially” become your friend? Or vice versa, when do you decide that a person is not friends “material?” When are you ready to share details about your life or allow them to see your apartment?
Now, as much as I would like to, I cannot take full credit for this idea, however, since that “friend” wants to remain anonymous, I totally will.
There are 10 levels of friendship and with each one there are certain, shall we say, ceremonial acts or special events that occur in order for that potential friend to advance. At any time, a friend can move up or down depending on their actions.
DISCLAIMER: As I mentioned in my PDA article, the level of friendship and/or actions that are described per level will differ depending on the person.
- Strangers in a Strange Land: You have no idea who this potential friend could be. It could be a neighbor, friend of a mutual friend, a co-worker, that random girl you met drunk in the girls bathroom, the next person that walks down the street, or even the person sitting right next to you – right now. Creepy, I know, but exciting, right?!?!
- Know First Name and/or Know of them: Okay, you had that first awkward meeting. Maybe it was forced by a friend or by the potential friendie themselves. Or perhaps, you bonded drunkenly over a game of beer pong or you held someone’s hair back as they puked. There are numerous possibilities, each as interesting as the last. The bottom-line here is there’s progression. They are still a stranger, but a more familiar one.
- You Make it Facebook Official: That magical day when you receive that notice from Facebook that informs you of a pending friend request with the words “Blank Blank wants to be your friend.” It makes us feel popular and wanted, or maybe that’s just a me thing. Now, anyone can send the request, it doesn’t have to be the potential friend, you can be brave and send the request. By now, you should have hung out with this person in a group setting with mutual parties present. You have a very vague idea of who they are or what they are about. What does your gut instinct say? Friend or foe? It’s a win-win: if they turn out to be “crazy” you can simply unfriend them or place them on limited profile access. It’s not like you’re asking them to live with you, just to be virtual friends. This way you can be nosy and peak around there profile to see if you have any similarities or dislikes, scan through their photos albums, read some old statuses, basically anything you can use to judge whether or not you want to take this potential friend to the next level.
- Exchange Phone Numbers: This is a big step. You are giving someone, most likely, your cell phone number. That is 24/7 access. They will be able to reach you whenever they want via phone call or text. And vice versa, someone is letting you have access to them 24/7. You should be selective when giving out your number, just as you would be if a random guy asked for yours. If you aren’t feeling it, you can do one of two things: A. Fake number them. We have all done it at least once so don’t act shocked that I suggested it. Or B. Tell them you don’t give out your number. Sometimes people appreciate honesty; it is awkward honesty but, honesty, nonetheless.
- The Solo Hang Out: Another big step, this one will basically help define and build the foundation of your potential friendship. There are no security blankets. It’s just the two of you – alone. I would recommend that you do it in a public setting, more witnesses. For me, I like to start a friendship off by drinking. This might not be the healthiest, however, how they act and what they order will tell a lot about them. For example, I’m a beer girl. If my potential friend tells me that they hate beer or don’t like to drink, that’s going to be a deal breaker for me, or at least it will slow the progression of our friendship. In this setting, you can talk about life, boys, family, and work. Anything except religion or politics. These topics are off limits. Treat this solo hang out like a first date. You want to make the best impression.
- Congrats! You’ve Reached “ –Ship” Status:If the solo hangs went great, you can start referring to this person as a friend. You can invite this new friend out with your other friends, invite them over to your home, and allow them to interface with your other friends as much as possible. Why? Friends are the best judge of other friends. They will let you know if they like them or whether that new friend is cray cray. At this level, you can let them crash on the couch after a long night of drinking, or give them a place to sleep for a night if needed.SIDE BAR: Okay, now you have decisions to make. Friends can stay at a level 7 or move on to level 9, or even hit BFF status at level 10 and up. Or they can stay at the same level for a while. It all depends on the friendship, how close you’ve become and how much you enjoy each other’s company. There are many variables at play here so don’t feel pressured to move things along if you’re not ready yet.
- “They Don’t Creep You Out Completely”: Don’t be fooled by this title. The rapport between you and your friend will be established by the litte things. For example, doing small favors for them, like picking them from the airport. etc. You welcome the inside jokes, the random texts, even the random Facebook posts. You don’t mind paying for movie tickets for the both of you or picking up a tab at the restaurant. You have a mutual respect for this friend and overall enjoy their company and being around them for long periods of time.
- Let Those Ghosts Fall Out of Your Closet: Or let your baggage out. However you would like to say it. At this level, intimate details or deep conversations about one’s personal life or past can happen. It could be after a drunken night out or just a friendly night were you guys stay up for hours just talking about everything. It’s a moment in the friendship when you trust them for their advice and for them keeping their mouth shut. You should want to share with this person and vice versa. The moment when they may have to meet your parents is another major step in this level, however, this can all depend on your parents. They can be embarrassing at times. Arguments may occur between you two at this point in your friendship. I am not talking about the friendship ending kind of fights, but those little arguments that old married couples have. Yeah, you will have them too.
- The Jail Phone Call: You are so close to BFF status, you could taste it. At this level, consistent hangs out (at least once a week) will occur. You guys are in this friendship, a breakup now would be upsetting. They’re the person that you would call if you needed be bailed out of jail, a boy’s house, your car breaks down, or any crisis where you need them. They would be there at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. Also, you don’t mind looking like a complete idiot in front of them because you know they like you for you. Awwhh!
- BFF Status: Looks like you made it. Through all the late-night cry fests, drunken episodes, small disagreements, or emotional walls, you came out as a BFF’s. Cue the sappy friendship quotes and music.