I have this magnificent (in my opinion) friendship framework which really helps illustrate the level of closeness I have with all my friends. It started when I kept getting questions like "Are you gals close?" and/or "Which stage are you both at?" so, like a true (pseudo) social worker, I decided that it's so much easier to explain using a scale. Everyone understands the scaling technique and it operationalizes so beautifully something as complex as relationships. Of course it's not an absolute scale - i.e. the distance between levels 1 & 2 is different from levels 6 & 7, for instance. It's tougher to move up a level as you progress along.
Level 1 - Acquaintance. Someone whom you just got to know. Name only. Will smile and nod when you bump into each other on streets.
Level 2 - Almost acquaintance. Someone whom you would stop, say hi and ask "how's work" when you bump into each other on the streets. Taboo to talk about relationships, politics and body fluids at this stage.
Level 3 - You know this person well enough to have a meal (usually, lunch) with and able to have a good time while at it. Talk revolves around work, mutual friends, school. Go dutch.
Level 4 - Past niceties and able to poke fun at friends at this stage. You would have established by now that this friend is worth keeping and good company when you need one. Dinner will be acceptable and someone can offer to foot the bill.
Level 5 - Mutual trust established. This friend will go out of the way for you because, you're now a friend. No longer referred to as my "colleague" or "school-mate from the past". This friend will come bail you out when a sleazy ang moh at a bar won't let you go home, and make sure you're home safe. Will also patiently let you whine when it's the time-of-the-month.
Level 6 - This friend knows stuff about you that you won't tell Level 5 and below people. Stuff like "I had a crush on my bus driver" or "I think I have a lump". Talk gets a bit deeper now as you can share about family issues, insecurities, past hurts, etc.
Level 7 - Inner circle of trust now. Someone who has reached this stage is officially a buddy who knows why you squirm when you see your ex from afar and goes on to reassure you even before you squeak. This person knows not just your past and present, but can offer sensible explanations to why your right arm twitches when you walk past an ice-cream parlour. This friend will last forever if you both keep at it.
Level 8 - This one is a gem! This is the first person you'll call when you spot James Lye during lunch, and/or when you've won 50 bottles of body lotion at a draw. First person to come to mind when you wanna go on a holiday and this friend will lend you his/her car when you ask. Without any hesitation.
Level 9&10 - Future partner stage. This is where, if your friend is of the opposite sex, you both should seriously consider spending the rest of your lives together. Best friends and soul mates... you both are so part of each other's lives now you can't imagine what you'll do without him/her.
*phew* there you go. Wynne's Friendship Scale. This probably needs a little tweaking here and there...but you get my drift. Use it if you need to explain your ambiguous relationships : ) Maybe I should write a book on this. Hiak Hiak.