1) friendly acquaintances / "casual friends":
- people who are respectful and want to connect with me.
- people who I care about, but don't know well yet.
- people who I know share at least some of my values, but that is all I know.
- we interact at least indirectly at least twice a year.
Most, if not all, of our interactions are indirect: reacting to each other's posts, but not commenting much or not commenting very in-depth. This is most of my facebook friends list.
2) part of my tribe / "real friends":
Just ONE of these things puts you in the "real friends" category for me (When I say "I can trust" I mean, I know through experience that it is true):
- I can trust you to tell me that you don't like something I did, or that you want me to change my behavior in some way.
- If I did something that seems to come from a shitty motive, I can trust you to ask about my motives rather than assuming bad of me.
- You read my longer posts and care about them, especially the more personal ones.
- I can trust you to tell me you disagree even when you think I won't like it.
- I interact with you regularly, and you regularly reply and regularly share with me.
- You have shared meaningful personal stories with me at least a few times.
The difference in how I treat people who I consider part of my tribe is that I try to initiate communication more often, though that depends on how they communicate over distance. I do this primarily through direct messages on snapchat or through texting photos back and forth, because that is a low-spoons activity that makes me feel connected. When I have the time, energy, and space to set up gathers, these are the people who I invite.
I deliberately build intimacy with these people. If they say something that I find hurtful or upsetting, I will make an effort to express this to hopefully decrease the block to connection. If I feel like I might have upset them, I reach out to see if they are okay, if they need anything from me, and if there is something I should do differently in the future.
3) core tribe / "best friends":
These are people who know me very well, who have ALL of the traits listed above, and who also nourish me by:
- initiating connection with me at least half as often as I do with you.
- sharing your thoughts and feelings in a self-aware and reflective way.
- expressing affection for or appreciation of me at least a few times a year.
- being creative, making or modifying things, and/or learning -- and sharing what you learned or created.
- listening to me talk about something upsetting without trying to make me feel better or assuming that I haven't tried.
- being silly and playful together.
- challenging me to grow, and being willing to be challenged.
The difference in how I treat these people is that I want to include them in any social thing I do; I try to see them in person at least once a month, if possible, but often it is not possible because most of my core tribe is long-distance and almost everyone is neuro-divergent and has a hard time making and keeping plans. What usually ends up happening is that I see them about once every two months if they are local and once or twice a year if they are not.
4) life-sharers / "spouses":
These are people who have all of the traits listed above, and also:
- We check in with each other before making big decisions.
- We turn to each other if we need comfort.
- We communicate every day, usually multiple times a day.
- We spend time together in person and/or have real-time conversations at least twice a week.
- We are comfortable asking each other for help when we are in physical or financial need.
- We have a lot of experience giving and receiving "no" with each other and find it easy.
- We tell each other about any difficult emotion that comes up because of each other's behavior, as soon as we have processed it enough and have the energy to express, and we make that a priority.
For me, romantic and sexual relationships are just friendship with sex and/or romance attached. The way I rank my relationships is by the friendship part, so "spouse" (or the term I prefer, life-sharer) is a kind of friendship and I don't need my life-sharers to be sexual or romantic with me.