The line between friend and acquaintance is different for everyone. A friend can be someone you see everyday or someone you met once. An acquaintance can be someone you can depend on and talk to everyday, but don’t necessarily think of them as a friend. Personally, I draw the line on whether or not I interact with someone on a personal level. Thinking about elementary school and high school is a good way to draw the distinction between friend and acquaintance. The classmates who you want to talk to and enjoy various activities with are friends, while your classmates who you interact with only in school are acquaintances. The same logic can be applied to adulthood. Those people you want to see and talk to are friends and everyone else you interact with are just acquaintances. Coworkers, cashiers at your local supermarket, waiters and waitresses at your favorite restaurants, I would consider most of them acquaintances.
The way you treat others is a good indication between friends and acquaintances. I believe in being kind to everyone, but especially to those you don’t know very well. As a result, I always try to be polite to acquaintances, no matter what. With friends, I joke around with them because I believe I know and understand them. If you think about your own friends and acquaintances, do you treat them the same as strangers?
In the two previous jobs I have had, I can clearly remember who, to me, were friends and who were just acquaintances. At my first job as a call center worker, everyone there was an acquaintance. We were trained to stay focused on our job and not distract each other at work. Most of my coworkers did not speak to each other between calls. I would say most of them, except my supervisors, were strangers to me. At my second job as an English teacher, I had a few friends and acquaintances. I worked in the same school for two years and I considered my manager and senior teacher to be acquaintances. A few of the teachers I got along with well and considered them my friends. I still keep in touch with my former coworkers who I consider friends.
It’s important to note that there are people who think of everyone as their friend and those who think that everyone is just an acquaintance. Relationships are a two-way street. At my former job, I worked with a teacher who considered everyone his friend, even his students. Some students felt that relationship made them uncomfortable. Personally, I considered him an acquaintance and he considered me his friend. He always tried to contact me when we were not working and I didn’t want to talk to him. He kept trying to cross the line between friend and acquaintance with me. While I don’t think it’s bad to try to make friends and be friendly, I think that it’s important to consider the other person’s feeling when interacting with them, be it as an acquaintance or a friend.
draw the line (idiom) – to create a boundary between one thing and another, often to interact with each thing differently
no matter what (n phr.) – without care for the costs or result
keep in touch (idiom) – to keep in contact with someone, usually not in-person
a two-way street (n phr.) – a relationship where both parties need to give the other something