This might sound ridiculous, but I rank my friends. It’s not a competitive, middle-school type of ritual; rather, it’s a way of thinking that helps me avoid friend drama, which—in my humble opinion—is usually caused by mismatched friend expectations, or “friendspectations,” as I call them
This all started a few summers ago when two of my girlfriends were partying it up at every concert, cookout, and festival. Their Facebook posts made feel a mixture of FOMO and a sense of exclusion—two feelings I don’t handle well. At all.
As I sat in my living room, scrolling through their pics, I felt like a loser, and wondered if I even had any friends—a stupid notion, sure, but that damn FOMO is powerful! So, I opened the notes app on my phone, and started making a friend list. After I finished, I noticed two things: Yes Joanne, you have friends, and also, they’re all different kinds of friends.
This no-shit realization led my little OCD brain to divide them into categories:
These are the people you’d give an organ to—ones who walk through life with you, through the good and the bad. If a crisis should arrive, you can expect them to get on an international flight and be there the next day. These are relationships in which love is unconditional.
You’re regularly in touch with these friends. They know your issues and will circle back with you if you’re going through a bad patch. You can expect them to offer you help during a crisis; and while in these relationships, love isn’t unconditional, you’ll almost always give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Every so often, you’ll meet these friends out for dinner to catch up on life. Don’t expect them to be there for you whenever you’re in a bind (because you’re not a top priority, and that’s ok), but do expect them to care and empathize. To put it bluntly, they’ll definitely show up at your funeral.
These are basically acquaintances; people you don’t make plans with, but enjoy running into at a party or event. These friends probably won’t do you any favors, might not care if you’re feeling down and don’t necessarily have to be trustworthy.
Turns out that at the time I made the list, the FOMO girls fell into the “Hang-out friends” group; and as I thought about what that meant, I realized that my expectations were too high—I hadn’t placed them in the proper category.
This made me feel better, because I could make sense of why I wasn’t invited—it wasn’t about me being left out, but rather our friendspectations not being aligned.
Right now, I don’t keep an active friend list on my notes app, but whenever I feel left-out or annoyed with a friend, I ask myself if my friendspectations are appropriate. This helps me avoid unnecessary drama, enables me to be honest with myself, and to be kinder to my inner circle— because no one has the capacity to treat every friend like a lifetime or close friend.
A little update: since that summer, the “FOMO girls” have moved up in my ranking. In fact, I even shared my system with them, explaining that they were the impetus for it.
And shockingly, I’m still on their friend list!