Legacy Friend: The Type of Friend We All Have and We Don't Know Why

You probably have a “legacy friend,” most of us do. It’s that person that you've known seemingly forever, and every so often you wonder 'Why are we friends?'

What is a legacy friend?

Urban Dictionary has a colorful definition.

Legacy Friend

Psychologist and author of The Friendship Blog, Irene S. Levine, explained her definition of legacy friendships to ATTN via email. A legacy friend is a person you had a strong bond with in your past but the friendship no longer has any “currency” in in your life, according to Levine.

Irene S. Levine

Although these relationships are primarily based on the past, they can still work in the present. Sometimes people can jump right back into a friendship after a long period without contact.

“Many times, people just ‘click’ when they get together and can pick up where they left off without any difficulty,” said Levine. “It may even feel like no time has passed at all.”

Is a legacy friend the same thing as a toxic friend?

It doesn't have to be the same thing. "Some legacy friendships can be healthy and rewarding if both friends have the same expectations of the friendship, and enjoy each other’s company," said Levine. "If the legacy friend is overly demanding, boring, or difficult to be with, any one of a variety of other reasons, it’s no longer rewarding and can be a source of stress."

Why do people keep legacy friends?

Legacy friends remind you of the good old times. “These are people with whom you have a rich shared history, these may be friends who lived where you grew up, who knew your parents, who knew your siblings, who went to the same school as you, who knew your first boyfriend, or with whom you shared any other important social or developmental milestones,” said Levine.

Real Stories from Facebook users

But often times legacy friendships are complicated. Two Facebook users told ATTN: their stories.

Aja Moore-Ramos is a 27-year-old teacher living in Oakland, California with her daughter and husband. She grew up in New Jersey where she met her legacy friend in fourth grade. At the time, they were inseparable.

Aja Moore-Ramos

When her friend moved to a new school in the sixth grade, the relationship completely changed. After an invitation to her legacy friend’s school dance, nothing was the same.

“I met her there and she was surrounded by a group of stuck up girls that we once promised ourselves that we would never associate with under an circumstance,” she said. Her legacy friend and the group of girls laughed and whispered about her most of the night.

Moore-Ramos left the dance early but she still refers to the legacy friend in positive terms in mixed company. “'Oh I’ve known her since the fourth grade.' In actuality, I don't know if I'd even recognize her if she was walking down the street or be able to hold a conversation longer than 10 minutes," she said.

However, Moore-Ramos still feels some connection to her old friend and she understands why people keep theirs around. She explained:

“Legacy friendships provide comfort, even if it is self-fulfilling and more about your feelings of loyalty and stability that anything else. It's like when people say they've worked at their job for 29 years or they've been married for 25 years. For some reason people admire that kind of commitment and desire that kind of admiration so we hold on to the things.”

Georgina Callender

Georgina Callender, 30, is a media and event producer in Bridgetown, Barbados. She met her legacy friend in community college, and they were very close until Callender couldn’t cope with her friend's life choices, while living in the U.S.

The legacy friend’s boyfriend may have been a drug dealer.

“I flipped! I told her to never get in a car with him ever! If the police ever pulled him over, her behind would be locked up for life or shipped back to Barbados no questions asked,” she said. “She didn't like that and started telling me less after that.”

However Callender will never forget what her friend did for her at a rough point in her life.

“When my father died, my friend was there for me in a way that I can't even describe,” she said. “She had flowers sent to me even though we lived in two different places, she encouraged me to visit, was concerned about my mental health and when another friend I had was being really rude she openly cussed him out for me.”

It’s not your fault.

Legacy friends are often a natural progression of a relationship and a part of life. “Making new friends or reconnecting with old ones always entails some risk,” said Levine. “If things don’t work out as you hoped, don’t take it personally.” Callender said that legacy friendships are a part of growing up. “People change over time and that's ok, as adults we've got to learn that it's ok to be different.”

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