Friendships can be hard to define, but I like to view them as circles. The center of the circle is you. Your deepest thoughts, your fears, your intimate true self. All friendships start at the outer ring of these circles. Some people stay out towards the edges forever, while other people work their way towards the center.
People's roles in your life can also determine what point they are in the circle. You would not become best friends with a person that you supervise at work. It is not socially acceptable for this person to work their way into the circles, and that person, even though you may really like them and get along great, will not work their way into your inner circle.
So What are the layers of the circle?
Your outer circle consists of acquaintances. These are people that you are friendly to when you see them. There can be hundreds of people in this circle. These can be friends of friends, or people that get your coffee from each morning, your waitress at a restaurant you frequent. You may or may not know their name, but you greet them when you see them.
Inside that circle are people that you may see at a particular place. You know these people pretty well in the setting in which you see them. This can be a person you talk to at the gym each week, someone you talk to when your kids are in dance lessons, or a person you talk to while you are waiting for a class to start. You know things about this person, but if you stopped going to where you see this person, chances are you would not talk to them anymore.
On the next circle closer to you are friends. These are not close friends, but they are people that you call friends. You may or may not share personal information with them because while they are friends, you may not feel safe sharing your personal thoughts, feelings or stories with them. I like to refer to this layer of friends as my, "Friends are for fun" group. I like them, but I am not as vulnerable with them as I am some of my other friends.
Closer still is my personal friends. These are friends that I can call when I am having a bad day and cry to them and not risk losing a friendship over it. I can call them and vent and they understand that I am venting. I invite them to special occasions and they invite me to theirs. Most people have very few of this type of friend.
Last is your best friend. Some people only have a spouse in this inner circle and others have a best friend that resides here. This is the person that you can share anything with.
Where a person is located in your circle set can be different than where you are located in their circle set and this can cause a problem. Have you ever had a best friend tell you something about their "best friend"? Sometimes this can work out, but other times it does not.
You control where people are on your circle and sometimes it is important to control where people are on your circle set.
A long time ago, I had a best friend. One day, we got into an argument because she was talking badly about me to someone and I found out about it. She was my best friend in my circle, but I was not her best friend in her circle. I had not been aware of it until I found out that she was prying me for information to take to others and talk badly about me. When confronted, she blew up and went so far off my circle of friends that she will not ever come back onto it. I will never allow her to even be considered an acquaintance again.
When I pick my kids up at school, there is a mean girl there. I have never done anything to her and I have barely spoken to her, but I can see her dislike for me on her face. This wouldn't be an issue except that we have mutual friends. If I meet someone who is her friend, I am very slow to allow them into my circles.
I guess it can't be helped that I was afraid of what they are telling mean girl, so I was very slow to let them into my inner circle of friends. One person in particular started trying to get me to go out after we picked the kids up from school. I was very slow to allow her into my circle of friends. We were friends for nearly two years before I started to see things that were making me question our friendship. She would tell me any time she had spoken to mean girl. She would call me up and try to get me to say something bad about mean girl by offering stories that made mean girl look bad. I couldn't help but wonder what she was telling mean girl about me.
I finally did decide to reevaluate the friendship and I decided that as long as she mentions mean girl , that I need to keep her in an outer circle and not tell her anything that I would not want mean girl to find out. That would mean she is in the "friends are for fun" group. She is a friend, but I have limited her interactions with me. If you ask her, she would probably say that I am in a closer circle to her, but in my circles, she is in "friends are for fun". I would not call her and tell her about anything bad that happened to me, I would not burden her with my day to day problems. I am happy that she has friends and that she has a good time, but I do not want to hear about mean girl.
There are times when we need to evaluate where people are in our circle. There might be someone that we want to move closer and there are times when people just drift apart. I have found it helpful to look at my circle of friends at least once a month and evaluate it.
Is there someone that I have not seen lately that I should?
Is there someone that is getting uncomfortably close?
Is there someone that I would like to move into an inner circle?
Have you ever found out that there was a difference in your locations in a friend's circle? Were you closer to them or were they closer to you? How did you deal with it? It hurts to find out that you have someone in an inner circle to have them reject you. Have you ever found out that you were not invited to a close friend's party, then given lame excuses as to why? Where were you in their circles and where were they in yours? Do you feel the need to match your circle to theirs?
A narcissist will try to rush through the layers to suddenly become your best friend ever. One of the easiest ways to spot one is that they try to rush through the circles or skip some all together. They meet you and you are suddenly their best friend, or best soul mate. It is important to slow them down and not allow them to skip circles. No one is your best friend from the day you meet. No one is in love with you on the first date. Relationships take time and narcissists do not want to put time into them. A girlfriend or boyfriend will want to love bomb you and get you hooked before you figure out all of the baggage they bring with them and all their lies and cheating.
Refusing to allow someone to skip circles will show you who is a narcissist and who is not. A guy who is eager and interested will wait for you. If you tell him you have taken a year vow of celibacy, he will not mark you off the list. Tell your dates that you do not have sex on the first, second or even third date, that you don't want to be rushed, and that you want to get to know them first. An eager man will set out to make sure you know him. He will want to go on sexless dates. A narcissist, who cheats on every woman he meets will roll off his "get to know me" speech as he is taking his shirt off. When you explain that you want to get to know a narcissist and refuse sex, they will become angry at you. They will blame you. They may even dump you. But ask yourself this question. What happens if a really nice guy wants to ask you out, but he sees you out with the narcissists. Will he decide that he does not want to interrupt your relationship? Are you giving up Mr Right for Mr Right Now?