Last night, I texted Jake to ask if he was available to listen to me talk about how stupid something was. He replied that he was, so I called him and we talked about how stupid something was. For almost an hour, which is why he is one of my oldest friends. I don’t normally like to talk on the phone, but when it involves ripping on something, I need to know that there are people who will participate for as long as possible. And for me, 42 minutes and some change is a very long time to be on the phone.
During the course of our conversation, it was mentioned that it can sometimes be difficult to introduce new people – namely, new people who someone has begun dating – into our group of friends. While no one is unfriendly to them, the reactions of our friends tend to vacillate dramatically between getting super attached to the new person and casual indifference (this changes when the new person becomes a fully-integrated friend; for example, now that Graham and I have been together for nearly five years, people seem less excited to see me and more excited about whether or not Graham will come to the party after work). I, not surprisingly, am on the casual indifference team. It’s not that I’m mean to a new person or am intentionally keeping them at bay, Jake said, but it’s obvious that I am satisfied with my current friends and don’t make a concentrated effort to make more.
Which is sort of true. For me, it takes considerable effort to get to the point where I’m comfortable enough with someone to call them my friend. I’ve gotten past the point of tolerating people who aren’t smart, funny, or interesting. It sounds shitty but it’s true, and if you can’t meet those criteria, then I’ll probably spend more time being annoyed by you than I will enjoying your company. It’s just wasted effort to me. With this in mind, I think I have just the right amount of friends, and that these friends fit into a number of easily managed categories. These categories are:
Old Friends – Friends who, like Jake, I’ve had since grade school or high school, because I figure that if you’ve been able to remain on friendly terms with me for more than 10 years, it is unlikely that we will ever be rid of one another and we may as well embrace one another’s weirdness.
Adjacent Friends – Friends who began as friends of my Old Friends, or are friends of Graham. These are the people for whom being a Friendly Acquaintance (see below) was not enough, and some of them have become very good friends.
Family Friends — I have two of these (cousin and cousin-in-law). Almost everyone else in my family is either terrible or we just don’t talk, which is actually one of the best things about my family. Did we live in the same house at any point? No? Then knowing about each others’ existence is fine, no conversation needed.
Work Friends – Friends who I’ve met through work. While some people I know have a large network of work friends whom they never see outside of work or work-related happy hours, my circle of work friends is somewhat small, both because I work with a lot of, as my work friend Zach says, “Dwight Schrutes and Toby Flendersons,” and also because I don’t really want to be any kind of friends with someone unless I would feel comfortable seeing them outside of work. Using this method, some of my Work Friends are approaching Old Friend status, and I’m not afraid of any of these people knowing about what I do on the Internet.
Internet Friends – Friends I’ve met on the Internet, a few of whom have my cell phone number or have spent time with me in real life. For the most part, I am completely happy to have an all-virtual relationship with these people, not because they are awful and I don’t want to know them in real life, but because it’s way easier to communicate via typed words than with real life contact involving going places where I have to wear pants that are not of the pajama variety.
Friendly Acquaintances – These people are okay, but I probably wouldn’t let them stay at my house if they broke up with their husband or wife.
Facebook Friends Who Are Not Actually Friends – This includes some people from high school who haven’t said an actual face-to-face word to me since we were in school together (more than ten years ago, fuck, I’m old). Some of these people are okay, but a few of them are on my list because a) their consistently pathetic and misspelled statuses help me to feel better about myself, and b) their consistently pathetic and misspelled statuses are boring enough to fill me with a rage about them wasting the Internet, which drives me to be even better at it.
New Friends – Very rare. Because most people are dicks.