Friendship I: The 4 levels of friendships and what they mean

The combination of introspection and retrospection is a kicker foundation for lifetime of teachings. It is only now in my big age, that I’m coming to learn of this. Particularly, about the 4 levels of friendships and what they mean.

I’ve always had the understanding that friends do everything together. In my junior high school years, I had the most amazing friends, who not only affirmed this notion but also that friends think the same way, like the same things, want the same things in life, and are completely co-dependent of each other.

I watched shows like The Bold Type, Insecure, Being Mary Jane and I was drowning in envy. I want what they have. I mean sure I watched Girlfriends and Moesha and other shows relating to black experiences but at the time, I wasn’t mature enough to comprehend the messaging.

via GIPHY

Now, I’ve come to understand so much about friendships. That they don’t operate on a binary template. That they can be layered and manifold with each person playing a different role without competing to the other. 

We grew up under a parenting system that didn’t teach positive sisterhood. The amount of times I was told friends are snakes, it’s no wonder we fear getting too close and vulnerable with one another.

Add to that, the fact that it’s normalised to pit women against each other, and that society continuously preach the ideology that women never support each other. We are broken and we are trying to stitch together these pieces without a guide. We are unlearning the oppressive and negative sisterhood education and replace it with the positive one, where we love each other and lift each other up.

And we are an empowered and questioning generation, that wants to know facts, to change things for the better and we will fight anything and everything that doesn’t serve us in a valuable way.

We are on journeys of discovery, and through all of this, I have learnt that friends don’t have to agree all the time, don’t have to like the same things and that’s okay.

That friendship is about a mutual exchange of respect, care, support, and love. That it is about sharing fun and cool experiences, the same way it is about sharing the difficult experiences.

Recently, I took a hard look at my friendships, and I realised there are things lacking. So, I tasked myself to an exercise, where I created scenarios where I receive the worst and the best news and see who I would call first to share. It hit me when I spent more than ten minutes going through my contact list a couple of times, trying to decide who to call, that no one seemed to fit that profile.

I had to dig deep into where the problem is and I realised that more than anything, it is silence and enabling that has led me here.

See, although I’m hella opinionated, I’m also painfully introverted. There have been numerous occasions where I wanted to say something but ended up not doing so, mostly because I wanted to “keep the peace”, heard that one before?

And that is a result of, being told I am aggressive in the way I speak and being surrounded by people who are comfortable speaking over me. More often than not, I end up checking out of conversations altogether.

What that breeds is unspoken tension, which can erupt in a dangerous manner. And that it has, I’ve created a war within myself.

The only way to deal with it is to come to terms with the role I played, and to understand myself, in order to understand what I can do to move forward.

The first step, I’ve come to learn, is to understand the types of friendships I hold and the purpose each friendship serves.

Research shows that there are different types of friendships, but for the purpose of this article, I’ve settled on the 4 levels of friendships and what they mean.

  1. Level 1 friend – This is a person who knows you, in and out. They are your go-to with any huge life-changing decision or story in your life, be it positive or negative.
  2. Level 2 friend – This is a person you are familiar with, you hang out and have fun times with but only occasionally. You’re not familiar enough to divulge any of the heavy shit in your life.
  3. Level 3 friend – This is an acquaintance, be it someone you work with or met through work or through a friend in the above levels. You may even have their numbers, but you barely talk to each other.
  4. Level 4 friend – This is a friend that is only in your life for their own gain. They usually contact you when they need something from you. Then they disappear until they need something again, and so the cycle continues.

Take a look at your friendships and assess which levels they fit in and then look at the next article about speaking a friend’s friendship language.