Friend or Just an Acquaintance? What Are the Differences?

Friend or Just an Acquaintance? What Are the Differences?

Many of us like to believe that we have a lot of friends due to social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and so on. Social pressure also tries to impose on us that all those with whom we exchange a few words are friends with us. But is all that really true? None of us really believe so, and it’s enough to look a bit deep down to realize it.

The truth is that there are strong differences between friends and acquaintances. You just cannot find a friend in a box of cereals, for instance. A lot of time is needed to realize that the person you’ve been talking to really has good intentions and that you can count on him/her. If the person only has good intentions but has absolutely no desire to help you out in a specific situation in which he or she doesn’t have anything to lose, it means that the person can only qualify as an acquaintance.

Let’s get into more detail and see the main differences between a friend and an acquaintance:

Depth of relationship

As we already said, a friendship involves a deeper and more personal connection. Friends are usually those with whom you share your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

As for acquaintances, these folks are usually those that you know, but the relationship with them is more surface-level. The interaction with an acquaintance is usually based on shared activities or circumstances.

Emotional connection

When we’re talking about having a friend, this usually requires having a stronger emotional bond. A true friend must be understanding, supportive, as well as empathetic. A friend is a person whom you don’t have any hesitations to tell your problems to.

As for an acquaintance, the emotional connection with such a person is usually limited. While there may be some level of friendliness here as well, the relationship doesn’t involve a profound understanding of the emotions and life situations of each other.

Investment in the well-being of each other

As a friend of someone, it is somewhat your duty to invest time and effort in the other person’s well-being. A friend will care about the success, happiness, and overall life satisfaction of the other one.

When it comes to acquaintances, the concern for the other person’s well-being may not extend beyond the basic and automatic politeness. The concern in this latter case is often more casual, and it’s certainly not something worthy of ‘condemnation.’ The acquaintance is already making some effort not to be rude, so it’s still worthy of some appreciation.

Level of trust

The level of trust when it comes to a true friendship is obviously ‘high-end,’ while those between acquaintances are usually limited to a specific context or a shared activity. Friends can confide in one another, understanding that personal information is kept secret and that they can rely on one another.

When it comes to acquaintances, there may be a lack of the deep trust that’s associated with close friendships.

Frequency of interactions

You’re not friends with someone if you speak to one another only once in a blue moon and only due to some sort of obligation or just to be polite. A friendship involves being close and communicating regularly, as well as building meaningful interactions. Friends invest time in each other’s lives; they don’t avoid doing it simply because “they are busy” all the time.

As for acquaintances, the interactions are usually occasional and may happen due to specific contexts, such as social events or work.

Ultimately, the differences between a friend and an acquaintance can also be purely subjective, as it’s up to each person to decide who he or she accepts as being a friend or just an acquaintance.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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