Recently I wrote about how I obsess over my friendships. That’s because they are important to me.
I’m not necessarily an introvert, I do however attempt to avoid confrontation at all cost. That’s a good thing too, especially if you’re ever being held at gunpoint or find yourself in the middle of some crazy street fight. Sometimes you just pick your battles.
What if the battles you’re choosing from are whether to be an adult or be a coward in a friendship though?
You don’t get to just up and quit without explanation. You don’t get to just ignore other people’s feelings. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to just stand up, turn your back, and walk away without so much as a “Fuck you”. Especially when you asked someone to be there for you once upon a time.
Why don’t you get to do those things? Well, that would be “using” someone. That would mean that you only stuck around long enough to get what you needed from the relationship. Once you’re done and your needs are met, your cravings satiated, you just turn your back on the person who “meant so much” to you. You’ve stuck the big fat middle finger right in the other person’s face and said, “Fuck off loser.” Except, wait, you didn’t flip them off. You didn’t even curse at them. You tucked your tail between your legs and ran as fast as you could or maybe, even worse, you slowly disappeared while leaving a paper trail of empty promises and a false sense of continued friendship. Then the trail went cold while you left an unsuspecting person to kneel in the dirt looking for a crumb, a foot print, anything really, only to have them find out it’s useless.
Sound harsh, heartless, or cruel even? That’s because it is. There’s actually a word that describes this behavior. Ghosting.
Urban Dictionary, in a nutshell, defines ghosting as: The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone. The definition and example they use applies to the dating scene, but it applies to any type of relationship I would think.
Think about the first time you made a new friend, went on a first date or maybe met a family member for the first time in your life. Those situations usually produce a wonderful and satisfying feeling. Except when the person on the other end of the line decides that they’ve gotten what they needed from the relationship and just books it.
Do not move forward. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Actually just go to “life jail” and sit your ass there until the next person comes along and promises to be a great friend, your shoulder or support system no matter what. Eventually, because you put off this aura of love, light and generosity, a new “friend” will come along and either roll those doubles or just throw the fifty in the middle and spring you.
Never been ghosted? Let me tell you how it feels. Imagine a crushing feeling in your chest every moment you think of the person who has left your life. Those butterflies in your stomach that used to flourish when you spent time spilling your guts to that person? They’re now worms, wiggling around, eating your guts each time you remember every secret you ever told that person. Picture lying awake at night wondering what you did that was so wrong that you deserved these feelings.
Were you too open? Did you come on too strong once you felt safe enough to open up? Did you not say the right things? Were you too needy or clingy in the friendship?
The answer is probably yes to all of those BUT none of the above is a bad thing! It’s not your fault. I’ll break it down for you.
- You were too open – Many people look for others that are brave enough to be open. It gives the “friend” a safe place to be open as well. Who better to feel safe and open with than another person who has the guts to be that way? You wouldn’t share your innermost thoughts or secrets with someone who was always quiet and didn’t invite you into their innermost circle. Their soul. Right? No, you wouldn’t. That’s why these “friends” prey on receptive and tolerant people. They don’t have to fear being ridiculed or embarrassed.
- You were too needy or clingy – In the beginning the “friend” probably was searching for someone like you. Someone who was trusting and felt like they could let down their guard. Most of the time it’s because that person who ghosted you? Yeah, they were lacking that part of their life where they needed to be clingy but they didn’t have anyone they could go to. Think of it in terms of someone having a baby just so they can feel loved. All of us have the right to cling or need someone we care about some days. A safe harbor so to speak.
- You didn’t say the right things – Actually you did say the right things. As a matter of fact you said ALL the right things. You said so many right things that you built this “friend” up and made them feel so special and gave them that “I’m so awesome” feeling they’d been searching for! You were there for them. You were everything they had been looking for back when they were trying to fulfill their needy and clingy issues themselves.
- You came on too strong once you felt safe – I know. When we think that we might have come on too strong, instantly we think, “Bad self” and swat our own hand. Well, most of us berate ourselves until we are racked with anxiety, sleepless nights and ulcers. In this case, coming across as TOO open is not bad. I can guarantee that your “friendship” did not happen overnight. You didn’t just meet someone at the park and instantly start discussing the periods of your life where you felt most vulnerable or start sharing intimate stories hoping it wasn’t too soon. No! This relationship has evolved over a normal period of time just like any other friendship. If I’m correct it probably lasted years because face it, you probably took a while to achieve the “I was too open” stage, right?
I’m going to take away the term “ghosting” from this and just call it was it is. Cowardly. That’s right. People who befriend others and then decide they no longer have a use for the relationship or person and just disappear are COWARDS.
If you truly care about someone and love them as a friend, no matter what happens, you don’t JUST LEAVE. At least not without an explanation, no matter how short and sweet. Have I left friendships? Yes, I have. I always gave an explanation though. I didn’t just blend in with the scenery and leave anyone hanging. I didn’t throw a few lies or consolation words with empty promises to “talk again”. I really did talk.
When you feed off of other’s feelings like a leech, sucking them dry to fulfill your own needs, you are essentially stabbing someone emotionally with your filthy sword that is covered in lies, disease and hate. Hate for yourself. The only reason you do this to people who you befriend is so you can feel better about hating yourself. I saying “hating” because you really do still hate yourself. Until you learn to be open and caring and loving to another human being all on your own, you will still hate YOU. You may feel like you are better and more stable than you have ever been right now, but it won’t last long. The sad part? You’ll turn back to the person you last hurt, first! Guess what though? That person won’t be there for you this time.
I won’t be there this time.