Monday, July 13, 2009

Hierarchy of Friendship

Social hierarchy has been around since biblical times, and is still observed to this very day. I imagine the first order of hierarchy went something like this:

  • God

  • Jesus

  • Disciples

In the early 1800's, the ranking for royal circles were as follows:

  • King

  • Duke

  • Earl

  • Viscount

  • Baron

  • Lord

Even today our government has its own hierarchy:

  • President

  • Vice President

  • Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate

  • Secretary of State

  • Secretary of Treasury

  • Secretary of Defense

  • Attorney General

  • Secretary of Interior

  • Secretary of Agriculture

  • Secretary of Commerce
So, with centuries of historical hierarchy, it stands to reason that we would have our own social hierarchy. A hierarchy of friendship, as I like to call it. I love my friends, I have many friends, some are ever present in my life, some fade away and then resurface, all important to me on one level or another. The thing about friendship hierarchy is that a friend's status can change, they can move up and down the "social ladder", it's a sliding scale really. Here is how we've (Sharon & I) deemed the social structure of our friendship hierarchy. Agree, disagree, hate it or love it. It doesn't matter, it's about us and this is our world - you're just a visitor here.

  • BFF: A BFF is bestowed as the highest honor. You totally get each other. You can have more than one BFF, most people do. With the great power of a BFF, comes great responsibility. A BFF is that person who knows EVERYTHING about you, all your secrets - good and bad. You share a bond of trust, you're always in a judge-free zone when you're with your BFF. You talk to each other at least once a day, emails and texts are frequent. Your BFF has seen you through the worst of times and is genuinely happy for you in the best of times. She wipes away the tears (and sometimes snot - yeah it's gross but a BFF would totally do it), she'll hold your hair back while you vomit and pick you up when you have fallen down. She's the person you think of first when you have good news to share, she's the one you can always count on. Always.

  • Inner Circle: Other slang terms include posse, peeps or my crew. The inner circle consists of your BFF of course, but not every person in your inner circle is necessarily a BFF. Yes it is a little complicated, try to keep up. The inner circle includes people you trust, just not enough to know where the bodies are buried. People who you know very well, who have your best interests at heart. These are the people that you include when having say, a small dinner party. They are the ones you invite to "exclusive" events. They are fun, and you truly enjoy their company. Inner circle friends, all respect each other. They may not be as close with each other as they are with one or two members of the inner circle - but they all tend to get along. It's an exclusive membership, the inner circle, and sometimes on rare occasions even inner circle friends can be demoted to fringe friends.

  • Fringe Friends: Fringe friends are people who are not quite in the "inner circle", but they are still around for social events. You invite them to larger parties, or group nights out. You may on occasion have a drink with a fringe friend without your inner circle friends present. These are the friends that you moderately trust, you wouldn't tell them certain things about your life because you're not quite sure if they would share this information with their "inner circle". So unless you want other people to know your business, you refrain from any in depth or personal knowledge sharing with your fringe friends. That does not make these friends unlikeable by any means and in many cases fringe friends have been known to penetrate the inner circle. It just takes time to prove themselves worthy.

  • Oldies but Goodies: These are the friends that you've known forever, at one time or another they may have been a BFF. They are the friends that you have known since childhood or perhaps a good friend who has moved away. I love my oldie but goodie friends. My friend Kathy and I see each other maybe once or twice a year. We always mean to keep in touch but life takes over and before you know it, months have gone by. But no matter how much time has past, when we do get together - it's like it was only yesterday that we spoke. We fall easily into conversation and spend hours playing "catch up". I have other friends who also fall into this category. Although, thanks to facebook I do keep in contact with my OBG's more so now than ever before. OBG's rock.

  • One of us: Every once in a while, Sharon and I will come across a person and say "she's one of us!". This simply means that they have the making of a potential inner circle ranking or even a BFF. Most of the time, we don't even know these people. For example, there is a blogger Little Ms. J. She writes a kick-ass blog. Her shit cracks me up. Seriously people you must read her stuff...she'll crack you up too. If she doesn't, well then there is just something wrong with you. "She's one of us". I don't know Little Ms. J personally, but I'm confident that she has BFF potential. Another example, Sharon was telling me about her friend Linda who lives in CT. How they met, things they've done...and she ended it with, "you'll love her, she's one of us". Those were the magic words that told me all I really needed to know about Linda. I knew that I'd like her, and I when I met her it was clear - she was truly "one of us"!

  • Hanger Friends: I wasn't sure if I was going to mention this level of "friend" and I use the term loosely. But I really felt I needed to include them as they are part of the hierarchy. Hangers are people who have an agenda of their own. They aren't really your friends, and the only reason you give them the time of day is usually because they "hang" onto someone whose hierarchy ranking is higher than they could ever hope for. You don't trust hangers, especially with your husband or boyfriend. They are annoying little gnats that you're always trying to avoid and usually deserve a smack-down at one point or another (even if it is just a mental assault all in my head, I'm too old for smack-downs). The sound of a hanger's voice makes you cringe. Honestly, you hate them - yes I said it, hate. You tolerate them for as long as possible for the sake of your higher ranked friend but eventually, when you've had all you can take - you simply disallow the hanger to be included in anything. Otherwise, the hanger could end up being one of the bodies that you've buried (with the help of your BFF of course). Little Ms J wrote a great blog about a girl named Molly, a true "hanger"...yeah LMJ really is so one of us.
Right or wrong, that's how we see it. The hierarchy of friendship. I didn't invent the concept of hierarchy, I just roll with it. In one social circle I'm a BFF, in another I could be a fringe friend, and I'm totally cool with that. The rankings fluctuate but one thing is for sure, I love and appreciate my friends, no matter where they rank.

Except for the hangers, you know who you are.


SharonK said...

There's also the "Proximity Pals" - neighbors and co-workers fall into this sub-category of Fringe.

Doreen said...

True, I forgot about he Proximity Pals!

Little Ms J said...

Thanks for including me in your blog and I'm so glad I made "One of Us" as opposed to a Hanger. That totally would've cramped my style. My sister actually blogged about the Hanger Phenomenon. I'll have to find it and send it to you. I'm still typing with one eye open while I wait for the cawfee (I use a NE accent when I discuss caffeine - I dunno), so I'll forward it on when I'm coherent.

TK said...

All so true and we get to be each one of those "friends" depending on who we are hanging with. I particularly like the "one of us" peeps because you almost know they are the minute you meet them. The "hangers", I always get the feeling they are there because they want something.

TK said...

I also feel bad for those that THINK they are "inner circle" when in fact they are "fringe" where they will stay because of a flaw or two. You know who they are...

PurpleClover said...

Oh wow. Beautifully done. It is similar to the chameleon phenomenon that I posted about but this truly goes into the inner workings. I couldn't have done it better!

My chameleon post was AGES ago (like March or but I look back and I'm pretty sure I had a glass or two of wine before I put the pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) forgive me if its sappy. ;)

But reading your post I could pick out each of my friends and file them accordingly! BRAVO!

Doreen said...

Thanks PurpleClover! I just read your blog and it was much kinder than mine. Often my edginess can come off as being mean. I scare myself sometimes. Your version of a hanger was thoughtful, I was all.. I hate them and want to kick them in the head. You're a much better person than I !

TK you're right, but it is important to make all of our friends feel special, regardless of their rank. :)

SharonK said...

Well Doreen apparently you're TK's inner circle too as he automatically set a place for you at dinner tonight!

Doreen said...

Awww TK!!! I love you man.