Friend or Associate

How do you become friends with a person? 


You decide to take a class, you show up the first day and it’s maybe thirty minutes before the class begins.  Another person comes in and they say “looks like we are the first two here huh?”  You say “yeah, I wanted to be early so that I could get a good seat.”  The person looks around and decides that they’ll sit next to you so they sit down and introduce themselves.  After the introduction the two of you fall silent again.  After a few minutes of silence to be cordial the person may talk about the weather, ask if you have kids, maybe the two of you share the fact that you have children and then you show them a picture of your child and look at a picture or pictures of their child(ren).  Then you fall silent again.  Just to fill the void of silence you ask what the class will be like or about, the two of you talk about that for another two or three minutes.  Other people start to come in and the two of you stop talking.  The other person is obviously friendly because they speak to the other students as they come in one at a time or two at a time.  This person knows some of the other students and you listen quietly as they talk about their last class or a group that they belong to.  You watch the people as they either connect with other friends, or talk to people that they have just met.  Then the class starts; the professor goes over the syllabus and what they will expect from the students.  Then the professor does attendance and introductions.  By this time you know who knows who and you take this all in.  For the next two hours the class goes on and you listen to the professor discuss the material for the first class assignment, you take notes and listen to the comments of others before the first break. 

During the break the person says something like “wow, this is going to be a tough class.  Did you understand all the material?”  You respond by saying “no, this is definitely going to be rough.”  The class resumes and throughout the class the two of you may share a confused look, or maybe a look of understanding, maybe even shock over some of the other students comments, and behaviors.  Class ends you say goodnight and you both go your separate ways.  As time goes on you see the person only in class, the two of you may talk about the material, homework, exams and anything that has to do with the class.  As you draw closer to the end of the class semester the two of you may talk about your final projects and discuss your fear of presenting your projects and getting  good grades. 

My question is do you consider this person a friend?  Do you try to take the association to another level like maybe emailing each other about hooking up for other reasons?  Do you try to find something else in common or does the end of the class mark the end to the relationship that the two of you developed over the course of the semester?



  1. My Daddy use to tell me that your friends are in your pocket. That I only have associate

    If you felt a vibe from this person that said she’s easy to talk with, she seems like we may have some things in common then yes you should see if the association can go farther.

    If a relationship develops then great.

    • I like that saying – your friend is in your pocket.

      After the class ended I heard from this person once. They wrote me a really long email and I responded. The thing is they never answered me back to tell me if things were going well with them, or to ask if I was doing well. Perhaps I’m not the only person that holds people at arms length.

  2. No, I would not consider this person a friend based on the scenario. Also, based on empoweredlady1 response to Summer, it is more clear that the person likely never intended to take it further than a “Hi, how are you” in class.

    • I gave the person the benefit of the doubt. I responded to her email. She should have at least responded back to mine. At first I thought “hmmm… maybe I gave off a bad vibe.” But, then I went back and read the email she sent me and I responded like a friend. It became clear to me that this person was selfish. She made it all about herself. If someone takes the time to respond to an email, the least the other person can do is acknowledge that they received the response.

  3. I agree that she should have responded, but she didn’t. At least you didn’t invest a lot of time and effort into it. Sort of like loaning someone $50 and they don’t pay it back. It saved you from loaning $500 to them.

    • I was taught that you should always respond because it is the polite thing to do. It’s a part of having good manners. The way I see it is that I did invest time because I took time out of my busy day to offer advice and sympathize with the problems that the person was facing. But, in the end at least I know that I’m a good person.

  4. this is just me but in the situation you presented, i would keep this person only as an associate. only because i did not feel the vibe of the other person. emailing the person was not a bad idea. the worst that couldve came from it was that the other person didnt email back. when it comes down to situations like that, if you are not really losing anything then why not take a chance. “Risk everything, Regret nothing” (unknown)

    • You are right I didn’t lose anything. I wondered how do you know if you are making a friend? I didn’t pick up a vibe, but I wondered if I was the person that was too cynical.

  5. After reading your post the first thing that came to mind is that old saying about friends….something like there are friends for a reason, for a season, and for a lifetime.

    I think that’s pretty accurate. Whether you are meeting someone for the first time in a classroom, through a mutual friend, in a bible study, a parent of one of the children in your child’s classroom or somewhere else, it’s all the same. We meet new people every day and not every single one of them will become a friend. It would be impossible to do so…there is only so much time each of us have to devote to building relationships and maintaining the ones we have.

    With regard to your scenario I wouldn’t say that was a friend. It did have the potential to be a friend, just as any new meeting does. But, it didn’t develop into a friendship because the “magic” (or whatever you want to call it) wasn’t there. That person was more of an acquaintance.

    In a relationship that grows into a friendship there has to be more elements involved other than just sitting beside someone in a class. By sitting next to someone that does allow you to get to know that person better, and in the course of that then you will either get the sense that you want to devote time to nurturing that relationship, or you will determine that you don’t.

    Relationships are funny animals in their own right – some grow into something and others don’t. And, those that grow into friendships will either be for a season, a reason or a lifetime. At this time in my life, I have had many many friends for seasons and for reasons, but I only have one that has been for a lifetime! My other lifetime friends have now passed away. Lifetime friendships are precious and you work on them. Both sides have to work at it in order to qualify them for the lifetime category.

    The person in my lifetime category I have known since 1989. We have been friends for over 21 years! She was my neighbor and our kids went to the same elementary school together. Our relationship began as neighbors, we clicked, our husbands clicked, we shared and we grew, she moved away, we stayed in touch, eventually I went thru a divorce, we stayed in touch, I moved to the city she moved to coincidentally, we stayed in touch, my kids graduated, we stayed in touch, her kids graduated, we stayed in touch, I got remarried, we stayed in touch, I moved away, we still stayed in touch, my kids got married, we stayed in touch, her kids got married, we stayed in touch, she had her first grandchild, we stayed in touch, I had my first grandchild, we stayed in touch, I went thru a 2nd divorce, we stayed in touch, I again moved to the same city she lived in, we stayed in touch, all our kids are married and we both now have many grandchildren, and we still stay in touch. We have spent birthdays, holidays, and just plain old ordinary days together for many years now. We have become actually closer than family I think over the course of our journeys together.

    We love each other and have been there for each other through so many stages of our lives. We are friends. We are best friends. I cherish her friendship and she cherishes mine. I am ever so grateful to have such a wonderful friend!

    And, all the other friends – the ones for seasons and reasons – they were just as important to me but obviously in different ways. They made my life worthwhile and richer because of their presence in my life.

    So, whether a person becomes a friend for a season, a reason, or a lifetime be grateful and honor them for whatever role they play.

    • I’ve heard that saying before about people coming into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime.

      I have a hard time making friends because I have trust issues. I always wonder when I meet a person if I push them away because I’m very guarded. This one time I was going against my instincts and gave the person the benefit of the doubt. It’s not really a big deal though because I didn’t really lose anything.

      You are truly a lucky woman to have found a friend for a lifetime. It takes time to develop a relationship like that.

  6. I often wonder too how to know when someone is becoming a true friend instead of just an acquaintance.

    Sometimes the process is really long for me, I like to take some time in letting people close to me.

    I have some friends who I do not keep in touch with as often as I would like, but when I get the chance to get together with them after a long time apart, it just feels so comfortable. Thats one of the reasons I consider them true friends.

    So maybe if you have another opportunity you can still work on getting to know this person more. Give it sometime to soak in. And even if this person doesn’t make it to friend level, sometimes it’s nice having a familiar associate that you wave to or say hi to when you see them.

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