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Glossary of an Epic Friendship Journey A – M

By Andrew Burgon /
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October 17, 2013


Image credit: billyphoto2008

Friendship Glossary: The words and lingo of an epic journey.

Since the beginning of Project Fellowship, I have come up with many terms for different kinds of people, strategies and other things related to friendship. Some may find this section amusing if not fascinating. Others are sure to come across some gems of wisdom that they will find helpful. I will be adding a lot more terms to this glossary for some time to come.

I should probably give you some insight as to why I came up with terms like angelics, sailors and blue mooners. In hindsight, it was no doubt part of the hard reset in my life after I reached the threshold of pain over friendships and fell into depression.

When I picked myself up I was determined not to be like that fly that continually knocks it’s head against the window pane. I was aware that my friendship reality was stubborn and that I had been socially clueless. I wiped my mind so to speak on the subject of friendship and began to build my knowledge brick-by-brick again examining and questioning things as I did. I think my mind came up with terms and labels to help me grasp the friendship landscape.

The Project Fellowship Glossary

Angelics are people with a high social nature and needs. They are at the top of the social hierarchy when it comes to the desire for friendship. They are noted for their initiative, enthusiasm, interest, warmth and thoughtfulness and are mindful of their friends to an unusual degree.

Sometimes we get to a point where we’ve had enough of a certain friendship and choose to bail out. Like we are in a huge moving plane and we jump out parachuting to the ground below. In hindsight, I must say that there is a real benefit to bailing out of friendships that for some reason continually bother you. It contributes to a lightness of being, a healthier mind and a happier lifestyle.

This is where you present someone with two choices and their decision seems to reveal whether they are interested in a friendship or not. For example, someone you don’t know that well has asked to borrow your Lonely Planet book for Thailand. You give them two choices. A) You go out of your way to drop it off at their office on the way to your workplace. B) A very enthusiastic invite over to your place for dinner. You’ll be able to give them the book then. The latter choice is filled with enthusiasm, warmth and lined with golden hospitality. Their reply amounts to, “Just drop it off at the office.” No thank you for the wonderful offer. No rain check implied. It can feel a little bit on the unpleasant side. In this situation I prefer to keep my enthusiasm in check with people I don’t know well.

People who obviously like you but only contact you once in a blue moon to meet up.

There were three burning questions that I dwelt on that a profound effect on my life. “How can I live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships?” “How can I draw good friends into my life?” “How am I responsible for my friendship situation?”

To some of the people you befriend you are going to hear the word ‘busy.’ “I’m sorry, I’m so busy. I don’t have time to meet up.” Here I’m not talking about people going through a busy phase like studying for important tests or have to work on a project that is due the following week. I’m talking about people who confess to being busy period. In this case, ‘busy’ could very well be an indicator word that actually means they’re not that interested in meeting up and they’re not interested in giving you a social slot in their life. Why do I say that? One thing I’ve noticed about the busy people I meet is that they are also busy socializing. I’ll bump into them socially or see pictures on their facebook page taken with their friends on social outings. When someone gives me their ‘life is so busy story, sorry’ I see flashing yellow neon sign on their forehead saying, “Move on.”

I’ve been chalked! It’s when a friend puts restrictions or limits on their friendship with you. It’s like having someone get a piece of chalk, draw a circle around you and tell you that they have placed limits on your friendship. For example, the friend that only seems to want to meet up with you if his other buddies are present.

By this I’m referring to friends you either have little in common with or you have things in common but their personality is very different to your own. I am unlikely to pursue these kind of friendships because my past experiences have taught me that they are likely to drop the ball friendship-wise.

Because of the difference they may not be motivated to meet up and will end up being a passive friend. Even if they express an interest in you at one point they may be oblivious to the contrary signals they are sending you which make you believe they’re not interested. In some cases, they may go against your grain making you feel uncomfortable like when they talk about something too openly that causes alarm bells to go off in your head or they’re into drinking excessive amounts of beer and smoking pot and you’re not. It may become obvious that they are really your buddy’s friend and guess who doesn’t show up when your buddy can’t make it? Then there is the fact that common ground often determines how much time you spend with a certain friend. So if you have little in common where does that leave you?

Due to the continual depressing state of your friendships the fog of hopelessness and despair set in. There’s a lack of clarity and understanding concerning the realm of friendship and how to go about drawing into your life quality friendships. A telltale sign is questioning whether or not there is something wrong with you.

Some friends only give you a very limited space in your life. For example, a college classmate picks you up every morning and takes you to college. You get along very well while in the car. In fact, you may have great conversations and laugh a lot. However, despite taking the initiative to invite this friend out a number of times it becomes obvious that the friendship only exists in the car. Well, you just have to accept it and look for close friends elsewhere. Look on the bright side especially if this happens to you with a co-worker in the office. It is a wonderful blessing if this kind of friend is pleasant to be around, fun to be with and an all round nice person. If you have ever worked with someone like I have who is at odds with her work, hates it and feels trapped and takes it out on all those around them you’ll know what I mean.

Common ground is more important in friendships than I originally though. It can determine how much you see of the other person, the level of rapport you have with them and how close the friendship becomes. People you like but don’t have common ground with often becomes phantoms and fade from your life. When having conversations with new friends I’m interested in I will sound them out to see if we share anything in common. I will also reveal certain things about myself in the hope it may establish some rapport.

This is a good point that Matthew Hussey brings up in a video of his. Contribute something to the group you’re in. Find a way to add value. It might be in the form of humor, great conversation, fun and energy or the food and drinks you bring to a party. The next time you go hiking on a hot day bring some icy cold processed pineapple pieces and lots of toothpicks and offer them to people when they stop for a break. There are so many ways we can contribute to a social situation we find ourselves in.

There seemed to be a bias in my life towards shallow, disappointing friendships so I created a huge counterweight not only to offset it but to actually bring good friends into my life. It’s made up of many things. These include inspiration, responsibility, courage, dwelling on three burning questions, educating myself in matters of friendship and getting out there and being socially active.

Someone who is very knowledgeable in a complex board game and is able to competently do all the calculations and number crunching in it. In finance, we call that kind of person a quant.

It refers to an underwhelming list of friends of whom you are unlikely to forge any good friendships with. Another way to put it is dead end socializing. ‘Sometimes you can’t get to there from here.’ In such a case my solution is to free up some of the social slots in my life and give them to others.

Depression is like having dark storm clouds in the mind complete with thunder and lightning. People who suffer from depression are often ill-understood. Unless you have been through it I think it’s impossible to grasp what it’s really like and because of that we are in danger of being insensitive to people who have depression.

Try to be understanding and accommodating with people who have it. Also, keep in mind that if anyone does anything strange like boot everyone off their facebook friend list or say or write something rude or offensive that is out of character it could be due to depression.

Try to avoid approaching new friendships with a sense of desperation where you are giving off a very strong vibe and continually hitting on new friends to attend your events or meet up with you. So if you are suffering from depression and have gotten to a point where you’re getting really serious about pursuing new friends be mindful of how you are coming across. It’s important to consider how people are responding to you and your invites.

One way to help reduce or even neutralize a sense of desperation is changing your priorities. My suggestion is to make your first priority to enjoy the company of friends. The second is to draw the best possible friends to yourself. The third is to find good friends.

During Project Fellowship I often scaled down how often I invited certain friends to my events. For example, some friends who may genuinely like me may live a completely different social life. I only invited them to my main events like a Christmas party. With other friends I liked but felt they weren’t that interested in a friendship I would downgrade the last few invites to, “Oh, by the way …” invites. “Oh, by the way, I’m hosting a wine and cheese party this Saturday with a dozen of my friends. You’re more than welcome to join us.” I just left it at that and didn’t follow up giving them an easy exit if that is what they wanted.

Naturally, it’s disappointing when friends we really like don’t reciprocate in the way we would like. Some seem hellbent in sailing off the edge of our lives. Others simply appear to be not so keen about friendship with anyone for that matter or are too distracted by the other people and things in their life. There may be a few who were once close friends who decided to take seven deliberate steps back. While it’s completely natural that these kind of things occur it may in some cases continually bother us for a period of time. While I’m all for making an attempt at rekindling a friendship that has gone cold and keeping an open mind as to the outcome I know from experience not to trust in hope. Once a friendship truly becomes disappointing and dissatisfying it’s highly likely to remain that way even if the friendship seems to revive a little initially. I’ve learnt from experience that it’s not good to be clingy and should the nature and status of the friendship remain the same I’m to hold the door open for them…

We all go through life feeling at times continually bothered about a certain friendship. I’m specifically talking about friends who deliberately take several steps back in the friendship. Who have become half-hearted. Who are completely distracted by other things going on in their life. In other words, friends who have become distant and cold. I have come to understand through a number of experiences that this continual discomfort should at least in my life be considered a move on indicator. I recognize that certain friendships that I felt this way about and tried to revive had a lot in common with a falling meteor…unstoppable. That friends like this somewhere down the track are bound to drop the ball and make me regret I persisted.

The double ball drop is where one friend does something wrong and his or her friend reacts badly to it. For example, you’re playing a game of poker. Your friend is joking and goofing off a little too much and it’s bothering you. Before you know it you blow your stack big time and say something that you regret. The funny yet sad thing is sometimes the other friend’s reaction or response is far worse than what caused it. In this example I would rate the emotional outburst bordering on rage to be far worse than joking and goofing off.

An event matrix is an environment where friendships develop and grow. It generates a field conducive to friendships. Your workplace, church, clubs, activity groups are all matrixes. Visualize it as a kind of clam-shell shaped wire frame with people in it. It has the amazing power to unite people and keep friendships going. It is very influential in the bonding of friendships. In fact, the collapse of a matrix can have a terminal effect on many friendships that were interest based.

It’s so sad when people limit their friendship options and end up feeling like they are the odd person out in a group or that their friendships are underwhelming and dissatisfying. Get out there in search of exciting potentials.

Here’s how I would describe an exciting potential. Someone who is friendly and welcoming. Not only in word and deed but in their facial expression. Elevated levels of warmth, enthusiasm and initiative. They show an unusual amount of interest in me (void of self-interest). Tenacious eye contact. They almost seem oblivious to everyone else in the room as they give me their full attention. They take the time to engage me in thoughtful conversation and spend premium time talking with me. They show an interest to meet up at another time and will eventually take the initiative to exchange phone numbers or email addresses. We usually share something in common that we are both enthusiastic about.

New expatriates living in a foreign country tend to hang around others who are new, too. If they stay in the foreign country for a long time and work for an English school many of their friends will come and go. After a while, this can take it’s toll. IF you are an expat and you’ve grown tired of this the answer is to gravitate towards long-term expats. When I made this shift I was surprised how easy it was to do. Some long-term expats like myself shy away from making friendships with expats who are obviously short-term. This also helps relieve the stress of friends coming in and out of your life at a rapid pace.

I believe in the concept of sowing and reaping yet for a long time I felt as though my efforts at befriending people reaped so little in return. I then came to realize that it was partly because I was sowing on barren ground. When I did find fertile ground the difference was amazing. Part of the equation of having satisfying friendships is finding the right people. That sometimes means ejecting yourself from a group of people and finding new friends.

Some people possess a very fervent heart. Unfortunately, the more fervent you are the more likely you are going to be disappointed and hurt friendship-wise. You may get to a stage in life when you are taking people’s passiveness or indifference way too personally.

Realizing that you possess a heightened fervent nature is the first step in helping you see the situation in perspective and come to terms with the way the world is.

If you are in the same boat I was in and it’s making you feel uncomfortable and depressed the most important thing you can do is find friends who are also fervent. The second would be to cease taking initiative with friendships that continually bother you.

People who are terribly flawed in some way. They may have bad habits or other issues that are detrimental to the friendships they have. Among these are people who are emotionally unstable and extremely uptight people. You may persevere with them for a while but in the end you’ll be tempted to let them go as the friendship gets to a point where it may continually bother you or there’s simply no point in continuing the friendship. Alas, in the end people like this have a nasty habit of terminating the friendship. They may fall off the grid without even saying goodbye or do something that is offensive or difficult to forgive.

A good friendship you thought you had turns out to be otherwise. For example, you find out that the friendship you had with your buddy was highly dependent on the sport you were playing. The moment you stop playing there’s a rude awakening in store for you. Despite your efforts your friendship with this person has gone cold.

Greet people with a smile. Be kind, be nice and open with others. Exude warmth and energy.

This is when despite your efforts of befriending people you find that your phone is deathly quiet. The people you know are not calling to invite you out or asking if they can come over. To me the frosty phone is an indicator telling me that I need to do something. That includes reassessing my current friendships and most importantly focusing my efforts on finding a few good friends.

In essence, this is your strategic game plan to usher into your world the kind of social existence you wish to live. A kind of virtual machine that is comprised of a friendship and activities model, numerous strategies and powered with massive action.

Can happen if you have had a lot of short term friendships in a short period of time. For example, you go out to your barbecue area where you use to have lots of people come over for a barbecue. For a moment it feels as though they are still there in ghostly form. That they have left some kind of impression there. You pause for a moment as you consider how many of those people are no longer in your life.

The Glass Wall is akin to the labyrinth. It is dark and opaque and ‘seen’ by those who feel helpless and powerless to do anything about their depressing social situation.

You pour your heart and soul into hosting social activities in the effort to draw friends into your life. You also make an effort to attend other people’s social events. Through your great initiative, warmth and enthusiasm you create your social world. The moment you take one step back by withdrawing your initiative you see a great part of that world implode before you and a mass exodus of friends. I call this the great falling away.

People who cloister themselves away and live very quiet lives. Sometimes hermits are people in a quiet rut but they may gladly welcome your company. They are, however, usually poor in the initiative department.

To say that I was fervent and keen in my pursuit of good friends during the first Project Fellowship would truly be an understatement. Due to my shotgun approach at befriending everybody I ended up having to wait a while till the right people came into my life. This left me in somewhat of a conundrum. My strong desire for closer friends caused my heart to become like a red hot coal in my chest. An uncomfortable thirst that was long overdue to be quenched. Interestingly, it was my intensive socializing and certain realizations that played a major role in dousing it. This included a visceral sense of the friendship landscape which gave me a greater understanding of people. I also know what it is to have a lesser thirst quenched by having the right people in my life. The latter, of course, is preferable!

If you currently are experiencing a red hot coal heart then you might like to take these initial steps. Become more selective in your friendships. The shotgun approach of befriending people can be a longer, more arduous route to having the kind of friends your heart truly desires. If your friendship situation is continually bothering you then it’s time to focus on that critical inch of your life. Check out your options friendship-wise by meeting lots of new people and gravitate towards those you have a greater accord with and have a lot in common.

I Initiator Be an initiator! One of the problems we can encounter is that we are guilty of anemic, feeble efforts in our pursuit of friends and we are oblivious to it. We just don’t realize that the scale of our friendship endeavor is not going to be able to achieve the results we desire. Great initiative can rock your world just as it did mine. It’s like grabbing a sand timer and turning it upside down. Instead of sand going into the bottom chambers it’s friends .

There is an amazing side benefit of taking far more initiative than you have ever done before for a period of time. It gives you a sense of scale and empowers you greatly. Instead of the scale going from 1 – 3 it now goes from 1 – 10. If I went to a new city and desired a bunch of good friends I can call on ’10’ initiative easily.

These are people whose friendship is very dependent on one particular thing. For example, your tennis buddy whom you have a good time with every week suddenly stops being a friend after you stop playing tennis. Despite your efforts to encourage him or her to join you for other activities you really get the impression that the friendship is over. These kind of people remind me of Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings. He wouldn’t go beyond certain boundaries. Islanders are friends who become ‘strangers’.

Two people that share a special emotional and possibly spiritual connection. The bond is quick and strong though the true nature of the friendship may not be initially obvious. Unlike many other friendships it’s not dependent on being at the same workplace, attending the same social group or sharing one particular interest.

It’s as if there is a force driving people apart. You get a real sense of this if you are befriending lots of people only to see them vanish from your life a year later. Consider how many people you no longer keep in contact with. When you graduated from senior high school how many classmates did you still keep in contact with a year later? How many marriages end in divorce? How many people have you parted ways with in the last few years?

A friendship on life support is one that is solely dependent on your initiative to survive. If you stop taking initiative with that person that’s the end of that friendship.

The old I give you a steak, potato and gravy friendship and you give me a … lollipop ? In another words, poor reciprocation from another person. I coined the term after someone I had tried to befriend but gave up on offered me a lollipop. I looked at it for a moment amused at the analogy before taking it.

Mainlanders are the opposite of Islanders. Your friendship with these people is not dependent on one particular activity, sport or the place you both work at. While you may mainly get together to do one particular thing you also get together now and then to watch a movie, go to a restaurant or have a barbecue at the beach. I find these friendships much more satisfying than those that are solely dependent on a particular activity.
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