Friendship has a lot of layers especially now at a time when its definition can be bounded by the mere clicking of a button. You have childhood friends. Your friends that remember you pooped your pants in kindergarten and the names of your pets that you still use to recover your email passwords. Your high school friends who know the names of your first romances. Those who you barely see but still got your back no matter what. Your friends at work. Those who you interact with for at least 8 hours 5 days a week. You have Facebook friends. Those who you know and follow. Those who you know but not follow. Those you don’t know but follow. Whoever your friends are, there will always be hierarchy. There is always hierarchy. To put it simply, it’s either you’re primary friend material or not.
I don’t know if the term actually exists but a “primary friend” is someone you prefer to be with, do stuff with. May it be as simple as buying a soda from a convenience store or as long-term as traveling for the holidays. Someone who you share small milestones of your life. Your first closed deal. Your first broadway musical. You finally being able to drive. Think about it. The first names that pop out your head. The most active message threads in your Facebook messenger. The people you forward funny video links to. We all have our favorites. It’s nothing personal. Just life. There’re no particular criteria. It’s not really about who is better nor who you know the longest. It just happens. Life happens.
Let’s take out vanity, bitterness, insecurity, jealousy, self-centeredness or the so-called paranoia of missing out off the equation for a moment and consider that “primary friends” really exist. Here are some signs that you are NOT (and what to do about them).
Sign #1: No one responds to your messages on Viber, Facebook or WhatsApp group thread.
You try sending simple Hi’s and Hello’s. You send countless stickers from those daily morning greetings to the funny cartoon version of Boy Abunda saying “Ikaw na!”. You try to open topics about your latest crush or how you loved Heneral Luna. You asked questions about your friends’ bad day at work. Literally laugh out loud by expressing them in emojis or exaggerated Hahahas or Wahahahas to a witty meme from Princess Sarah. All these to no avail. For some reason, your messages do not receive the most basic response to consider the exchange as a conversation. You try to ignore it but when the primary friend is online, your phone keeps on buzzing and that hanging question, “Sino si Annalise Keating?” will be buried under leagues of messages.
What to Do About It: Group chats make or break friendships. It allows you to be connected to your friends 24/7 and that can be either super fun or super annoying. *sighs* Be reminded that like you, your friends also have classes, jobs and other things on their daily schedules. Some people are just not good multi-taskers so don’t take it personally when they don’t reply. They could’ve read your messages but have been distracted by a more important thing. Worst case scenario is that they aren’t really that interested of what you’re saying, which can be helped (if you really need to suck up to your “friends”). An even worse case scenario is that they have a new group thread that you don’t know about. I say, don’t get stuck in waiting for a response and continue living your life. If you find something interesting to share, forward it your group chat without expectations. If they don’t respond, no biggie. If they ignore you in real life, then that’s a whole different thing.
Sign #2: You are always the last to know.
No one told you that Dr. Shepherd died? You didn’t know that Patty was migrating to New Zealand and that Andrew, the person you’re having lunch with everyday, was resigning? Nobody told you they wear pink on Wednesdays or that your long time crush you diligently stalked already had a boyfriend. Ugh. Your friends might not have been deliberately hiding these information to you. These things could have easily slipped their minds because they forgot, you failed to ask, or they just felt that it’s not theirs to tell. Blah blah blah. Excuses. Cue in Britney please, b*tch!
What to Do About It: Like what I said, some things are not for your friends to tell or for you to know. Consider your place and where they’re coming from. However, if this continues to happen even on things you should know about, try asking. Don’t get stuck sensing something’s going on, silently dwelling in self-pity and playing a “victim” in every situation. Ask and you may get the answers.
Sign #3: Odd numbers are your enemy. (And narrow sidewalks too!)
Remember that time you had to walk to that small milk tea shop in Manila. You, Ana, Freddie, Jill and Carlos. Ana and Freddie walked together since they were a couple, and Jill and Carlos were BFFs so they naturally paired up. You ended up like a clown on a unicycle trying to balance if you were to move forward or slow down and glide backwards. Listening and responding back and forth to two different conversations that you weren’t even part of.
And THAT is why we need wider sidewalks, Manila!
What to Do About It: Cheer up! Being the odd man doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “out.” It also has advantages like people behind will not get annoyed at you for blocking their way not to mention you don’t have to share your Shake-shake fries with anyone. It will get better. Take this quite time to reflect. Find balance and inner peace. Being alone isn’t tantamount to being lonely.
Sign #4: You don’t have a regular seatmate.
You stand in front of a table in a restaurant. Everyone awkwardly pauses and waits for you to be seated because from there, they’ll know where they will sit. You also hate rectangular tables because you’ll end up sitting at the kabisera (father’s chair) or the far side where you can’t hear the conversations enough to even respond. If you’re late, no one reserves a seat beside them for you.
What to Do About It: Arrive on time and sit in the middle chair on the sides. When all else fails, just sit anywhere. Not having a regular seatmate is actually a positive thing. One, you are able to interact with other friends, people you don’t usually talk to. Two, you are not expected to reserve seats in return. Reserving seats can be very stressful, not to mention, it may appear rude to other people.
Sign #5: No one rides with you.
Your barkada‘s heading to eat out in Tomas Morato. You brought your car but no one rides with you. You insist that there’re enough seats for everyone, but still no response.
What to Do About It: This may be because of you don’t have a regular seatmate or this may have been caused by the odd number thingy OR your car is just plain messy (kidding!). Maybe, your driving is bad or being alone with you in traffic is not anyone’s preferred activity for the next hour or two. Listen to yourself. Maybe you’re annoying as hell. Then again, who cares? You’re all going to go at the same destination anyway.
Sign #6: You are never invited.
You browse your Facebook feed and see your friends on a random night out on a weekday. It’s nothing, you say to yourself. It’s random and they can hang out without you. It’s not like you’re the life of the party. Right? Then again, you decide to ignore the post and pretend that you have not seen it. You are one strong independent woman. You can handle one forgotten invite. Then, it becomes two. Your officemates are going to get merienda. They pass by each cubicle to ask if they’re joining. You wait for your turn but it doesn’t come. Then, your stomach growls so loud and involuntarily begs for an invitation.
What to Do About It: Simple, initiate the invitation!
Sign #7: When you invite, no one goes (and you hear all the excuses in the world).
You wanted to watch Rak of Aegis since the beginning of its run and no one in your circle wanted to join you. You hear a bunch of reasons like “I don’t have enough money” or that “musical theater is not really my thing” speech. Sadly, when a primary friends goes asking, they forget your invitation along with their excuses. They then proceed to go see Aileen belt out your favorite song Basang-basa sa Ulan. (Which is incidentally one of the quintessential birit songs for your karaoke sessions.)
Lagi na lang ako nag-iisaa ahhh...
What to Do About It: In today’s age, everything is happening so fast and simultaneously too! People tend to forget about what has been said and done just a few hours or even minutes ago. We even rely on smartphone apps for reminders now. We tend to live in moments. Such is the nature of the “trending topic” age we live in today. So don’t worry if they don’t want to watch that musical or movie right now. They’ll probably come to like it in a few days or weeks when it gets a bit more mainstream, and then they’ll be eager to watch it with you, curious what the buzz was about in the first place.
Sign #8: No one looks for you when you’re MIA.
Remember the time we went parasailing in Boracay? That was so fun. Scary pero fun. Ay, wala ka pala n’un. How about the time Izzy got really drunk and started speaking in British accent? Wala ka rin nun? Sure ako, you were there! You came late pa nga from work. Di ba? Ay di, si Nico pala ‘yun. Tao lang.
What to Do About It: You can’t always be present in your friends’ lives. You’re not their mother nor girl friend. Just face the fact that they have memories that you are not part of and similarly, you also have memories that you don’t share with them. Don’t make tampo. At least, you both have new things to talk about. Emiright?
Sign #9: You’re not someone’s emergency contact.
Imagine you, Elle, Jona, Gillian and Carla all have first-aid kits in their bags since they were all your girl-scout mates and honestly, they all have humongous bags. Since Kim is so clumsy and she decides to be tiis-ganda and wear 3-inch stilettos, she trips and cuts her knees. Who will she call first? Or your friend Aaron knows you are having dinner with your barkada, who will he text/call to ask where you all are? Is it you?
Umm. Probably, no, unless there are no other choices.
What to Do About It: Nothing really. We all have that person we have on (imaginary) speed-dial. The first names that pops out of our head when we need something. You can make yourself more available in helping others. Have the initiative to lend a helping hand. Let them know that you’re a friend they can lean on.
Sign #10: No one calls you bestie or any cute term of endearment or a fancy alteration of your name.
Everyone of your friends have their own two-syllable nicknames or one syllable that’s ending with an “S” and you have your own name. NO MODIFICATIONS AT ALL. You also have tons of friends that are called “bestie” or BFF. For 25 years, you wonder…”Why not me?”
What to Do About It: Maybe, your name is not that easy to monosyllabify (I made up that word, HAHA!). Maybe its Noel. You can make it Nos. Just think of it this way, some people who are addressed by nicknames are not so happy about it either. If you really want a nickname, then give one for yourself and declare it on FB or IG. Everybody happy. I have a friend who’s decided she wants to be called Elle and now everybody calls her Elle. #LiveYourDreams. 🙂
Not being a primary friend isn’t necessarily bad. Some people just prefer someone else more than you. Many factors contribute to this and most of them are uncontrollable and arbitrary. Stop overthinking and just be yourself. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, you’re good to go. If you really want to be a primary friend, try being more open to your friends. Maybe you’ve built an invisible wall, set boundaries that prevent you from being really “friends” with them. When you open yourself to the world, it opens back to you. You can also try meeting new friends with the same interests. Build a new network not to replace the old but to widen it. The bigger and the more enriched your network is the more likely that you’ll eventually be someone’s primary friend.
Are you someone’s primary friend? Do you agree with these signs? Anymore signs of not being a primary friend that you know of. Tell us about your “not so primary friend” experience in the comments below.