From early childhood it is ingrained into our psyche to remember the important contrast of friend versus stranger. The former our ally, protector and familiar person whom we instinctively recognise and feel safe towards, whereas the latter a sign of danger; a person to fear and steer clear from. In bygone years everything was pretty simple. Then the lexicon of common language was invaded by a somewhat peculiar term: personal friend.
Maturing into adulthood we each begin to recognise the subtle differences between that of friend and mere acquaintance. Slowly, the realisation dawns upon us that friends are few and far between, and acquaintances far more dominant in number. Many refuse to make the obvious distinction and are often burned by the false sense of friendship they innocently believed was common between themselves and newfound foes. Sometimes regarded as aloof or withdrawn, there are those who walk amongst us who categorically understand the delicate disparity between the two groups. Recently, the simple explanation suffices no more. Apparently, there is, and always has been a third category.
Friend is often defined as someone with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Conversely, acquaintance a person you may know slightly, engage with occasionally but certainly not an individual regarded as a friend. Associate, colleague or contact: all terms that offer no sense of endearment of imply anything related to a personal relationship. This all leads to the question, therefore, where does the term ‘personal friend’ fit in?
Personal generally relates to one’s private life, which is direct contrast to any public persona. Hence, given how we define our friends does this rather odd term of ‘personal friend’ have any rationale meaning? Could it simply be we need this distinction to be made in order to split our private entourage from all our endearing associates? Am I missing something obvious? Perhaps if one could enlighten me as to where I may locate a personal friend all may be revealed. Do personal friends come at a premium whereas mere friends are free? Stranger bad, friend good. Bring back my childhood when everything was so much simpler!