K, I think you’re getting the wrong idea.
Trust levels were not intended for indication of popularity status. They were originally used to mark your achievements and effort to being a good HSFer. Also, Regular and Member really dont have that much of a difference, just to access the lounge, move topics, edit titles, ect.
Being friends with someone is not about he/she’s badge. It’s more about what you see in them as a friend.
All my friends have moved on to regular (PaperBagHat_meep, WynterDiamond, ect.) And they are still my friends!
Plus, it doesen’t matter what trust level you are on, the key to making friends is to interact. Don’t be stopped by a trust level indication.
If your friends treat you that way, maybe you need to get new friends, and not a new reputation.