We’ve all got friends and family already, so is there really a need to have acquaintances too? This is a question that I have grappled with for quite some time, and I must admit that it’s through life experience that I already know the answer. It’s actually quite important to have acquaintances in your life. I’ll tell you why.
In the world of psychology, acquaintances are often referred to as “weak tie friendships”. It’s also worth noting that many psychology and counseling articles focusing on weak tie friendships (aka acquaintances) see them as a good thing.
If you would like to delve into the reasons why having acquaintances is important, read on
16 reasons why having acquaintances in your life is of importance:
1. You get to meet new people through your acquaintances.
During your lifetime, you will meet several people who will play a pivotal role in your life experience. Not every close friend you have will be someone you met in school. Some of the people you get close to in your life will be people you meet through other friends and (yes! you guessed it) acquaintances.
2. Acquaintances have little or no expectations of you.
Close friends often have expectations of you and the friendship. As a friend, you will be expected to put in the regular effort and make yourself readily available. When it comes to acquaintances, you aren’t going to get upset if the other person is unavailable for a night out (and vice versa). Having acquaintances means you get to have lighthearted friendships with no pressure!
3. Having acquaintances makes your social media experience more interesting.
Imagine a world where your social media accounts only include your close circle of friends and family members. It wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? By having acquaintances, you get to scroll through your social media pages and enjoy the entertainment provided by a big group of people. You can pay attention to it all or not – it’s up to you.
4. Having acquaintances appeals to our need to belong.
As humans, we have an inbuilt and natural need to belong. A sense of belonging is something that many people spend a lifetime seeking out. Of course, you don’t need to have many close friends in order to feel that you belong. Being part of a group and connecting with acquaintances can appeal to that need and satisfy the desire. You can join a club or participate in an online group – just saying hello and having people recognize you and respond pleasantly can be good enough for that need.
5. Most acquaintances will be up for fun in a heartbeat.
You probably spend a lot of your time with your friends, and they might, on occasion, turn down your invite to do something fun or energetic. When your friends aren’t available or up for it, having acquaintances can be convenient as you get to have fun with someone else – instead of alone.
6. You will be lured out of your comfort zone from time to time.
When we have a set group of friends, we end up doing the same things over and over. We follow similar patterns, talk about the same things, and pretty much know everything about each other. Having acquaintances can really spice things up by adding an element of the unknown. You might even accept a few new invitations to do something different and be out of your comfort zone for a bit. That, believe it or not, is very healthy and necessary for personal development and growth.
7. Acquaintances can boost your career/business success.
The more people you know “in passing”, the better it can be for your career or business success. Not every job you get or sale you make needs to be through a response to an advert. Instead, you might be recommended for a post by an acquaintance, or someone might hear about your business products and services through a friend of theirs (who happens to be an acquaintance of yours). Having acquaintances can really open up doors for you.
8. You get to escape group drama – a change of “scenery” is nice.
Ever noticed how much drama goes around in a group of friends? If you need a break from a bit of drama with your friends, you can take a temporary break and hang out with an acquaintance or two instead. Having acquaintances gives you the safety net of having a “backup” plan of people to spend time with when things get a little heated or drama-filled with your regular friends.
9. Acquaintances typically have unbiased opinions and advice to offer.
Your friends, who know you well and know about most things in your life, will typically provide you with advice and opinions that are relatively biased or loaded. If you want to get unbiased advice or a fresh opinion on something, you can make a plan to chat with some acquaintances about it.
10. You get to enjoy light conversations that don’t delve too deep into your life.
Having close friendships means that your current problems and concerns are always on the table and up for discussion. If you just feel like having friendly and happy banter without delving too deeply into what’s happening in your life, you can avoid your regular group of friends and spend some time chatting to or socializing with an acquaintance.
11. Chance encounters are good for mental health.
Studies have shown that chance encounters with people we know (but aren’t necessarily friends with) can be really good for mental health. Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist, discovered that merely feeling recognized can make someone feel connected, leading to feelings of well-being. There’s nothing better for your mental health than feeling good about yourself.
12. You get exposed to new perspectives and ideas.
When you hang out with the same friends and family members day after day, you get quite used to the rhetoric. You can almost predict the perspective and ideas of those around you. Chatting to an acquaintance can give you a fresh viewpoint on a situation, and some interesting ideas might be shared with you. This can be quite inspiring.
13. Weak-tie friendships can help you build bridges in your life.
Having acquaintances can be beneficial to you because they help you bridge the gap between your life’s bubble and the rest of the world. By having acquaintances, you might meet someone in an industry you are keen to get involved in. You might get a great recommendation for a course to study or find out about an affordable car repair place. Building these bridges can be helpful to our overall life enjoyment.
14. Minor connections keep you involved in the community without having to dedicate time to a specific group of friends.
You don’t have to become best friends with your neighbors. Attending neighborhood watch meetings or helping to build a community garden just seems easier and more rewarding if you “know” some of the other people involved. Being acquaintances with your neighbors can connect you to the community without making you too available.
15. Having acquaintances can make you feel less lonely and help beat depression.
As we grow older, we tend to have fewer friends. This is because our urge to always be out with friends seems to lessen as we grow up. It can start to feel a little lonely if you don’t have close family and friends to spend time with. Simply having acquaintances can help to deter feelings of loneliness. Simply having a conversation or two with familiar people each day can help you to feel less depressed.
16. Your life will be simpler, with more acquaintances and fewer close friends.
Having too many close friends can complicate your life. You might not have the time to spend on maintaining all those friendships. In this case, having more acquaintances can be beneficial.
Having acquaintances certainly isn’t essential to your life, but it will add value – that’s for sure. If you’ve been wondering if you should keep your acquaintances around…you should!