With commitments to work, the work we want to one day make “work,” exercise, girlfriends or boyfriends, kale, keeping your apartment clean, taking your clothing to the dry cleaners and making sure they didn’t lose the collar-stays, we don’t have much free time anymore. This means that all twenty-somethings need to prioritize their time between the various distracting elements in order to navigate effectively through this barbaric slaughterhouse once known as humanity. With that, comes the modern friendships guide presented below:
Before I get there, though, I don’t want to mislead and make being twenty-five sound bleaker than it actually is. While a man can certainly find time to spend with his buddies, the availability for those random friendships — for example a guy like Sina, who challenged your FIFA game in accounting class, and with whom you proceeded to play three hours of video games — is a little slim. And not to say these sorts of friendships weren’t epic in their time, but time management decisions must be made if you are ever to build a bank account that can afford you more than an apartment with rusty shower heads and stoves from 1967.
Below, I’ve categorized modern male relationships into five different levels:
1. The Glance and Nod
This is somebody you know, but don’t really know. On most days you see this guy, though you might know his name and he doesn’t know yours, or vice versa. The extent to your relationship is a quick glance and nod, maybe even a quick “hey” if it’s a Friday. These are the people you bump into on your work floor, the gym, or the local places that make your daily schedule.
It’s fair to argue that you technically don’t know these people, since the extent of your dynamic is hardly a form of communication. However, given that you see this person on most work days, it’s safe to say that some people see the ‘glance and nod’s’ in their life more frequently than close friends or family, which does bequeath them with some life relevance, although the base of its existence is albeit, random.
2. The ‘Oh hey, how you been, bro?’
However disingenuous the actual interest in the question may be, the fact that either party demonstrates a keenness to even ask the question is in itself a stepping stone above the Glance and Nod. At first, it’s mainly a diplomacy—a relationship mainly kept for interests of not coming off like an asshole to the other, not genuine interest. The relationship is brief, casual and noncommittal.
It should be noted, though, that just because a guy happens to fall into this genre of friendship, it doesn’t limit what sort of stuff can be discussed. For example, at the gym there’s a guy who always chimes in with deep comments. He ranges from topic to topic with insight, dropping lines like “the vacation is over, bro,” in reference to life after twenty-five years old, or a “never forget, man, you’re the prize,” when discussing woes in the fem arena.
At this point, this guy is technically a mentor figure, as he pontificates to me butt naked in the steam room, while we hardly know each other. In other words, although you’re pretty sure somebody is in the ‘How you been, bro?’ category—a pretty surface level friendship, in the end—that doesn’t choke the relationship in terms of content available for conversation.
3. The ‘Dude, We should kick it’
Many argue that the “Hey, we should kick it,” is the implicit kickstart to an actual friendship. Once this line is dropped, it’s been established that potential for friendship exists on both parties and, unless both people were simply in a drunken, carefree and oblivious stupor, there are good odds that hanging out may actually happen.
Although the possibility of somebody capturing a rare flu just an hour before hanging out is always possible, especially in a place like Los Angeles, getting to the ‘We should kick it’ phase is surely a move in a positive direction.
4. ‘He’s My Boy’
After the first hangout, there lies an opportunity for parties to take things to the next level. If you guys have fun talking about career, women and dreams and tell each other you should do it again but never do, then congratulations: you’ve just made a new friend.
5. Close Circle
Your close circle consist of the ensemble of guys who serve as your support system. You know you can always count on these friends to support you, just as much as you can to have them make fun of you and probably invade your personal space.
Despite how one can argue they are just as much a source of insecurity as stability, life can be terribly lonely without close friends. They ask you how your dates went, ask about your work life, and eat Indian food with you.
BONUS/SECRET LEVEL: ‘Best Friend’
Philip Lopate, in my opinion one of the best essayists ever, wrote that: ‘Even if we are lucky enough to have several companions, there must be a Best Friend, knightly dubbed as though victor of an Arthurian tournament.’ Totally true. Generally, people say it’s their childhood friend whom they’ve known for fifteen or twenty years. But what I’ve noticed is that something odd happens to twenty-somethings and their best friends at a certain point—which is, they’re no longer actual best friends. They might still employ this title and use it to describe each other, but their actual time spent together wouldn’t evoke best friend quality.
It shares a resemblance to how a lot of people have an uncomfortable time around their parents. The weight of history, memories and fights has the propensity to make the relationship more stressful than enjoyable. In sum, the highest level of friendship is the best friend who isn’t actually your best friend.