Letting Go of Phantom Friendships

Letting go of phantom friendships by Stephanie St.Claire

 

A few years ago, I decided to take 12 months off from dating and romantic relationships. It was one of the most “unlike-me” decisions I’ve ever made, but after spending my entire adult life either married or in relationships, I knew I had to do something radical in order to bust out of my pattern and learn something new about myself.

 

A yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

 

Oh yeah. I went cold turkey. After the first few rocky months of love detox and hugging my cat a lot, I got into the groove of being single.

 

Bursting onto the scene as a freshly single woman, I blinked with wide-eyed amazement at the sparkly potential friendships in front of me and realized I freaking sucked at this.

 

Y’all might think this post is about my discoveries in love, but the detox opened a WORLD of clarity around all my relationships with others. What emerged as part of the healing process was I wasn’t happy with my lack of real connection with my friends. I had a lot of phantom friendships fueled by pseudo-contact on social media.

 

1997 was cool. There were ONLY so many people you could be close to because friendship meant an investment of your precious, limited time. You got your ass in the car and drove to their house or sat on the phone and talked. And from that you experienced depth, and laughter, and tears, and LIFE.

 

Sometimes when you’re on the receiving end of something sucky, it helps you realize that you’re kind of a jerk too (in the same way, but to other people). I’ve had a platonic relationship with a guy friend who lives in another state. We’re not closey-close, but we have a ten year history. Over the past 3-4 years, my friend would never pick up the phone and call me. Nor would he make time to get together with me when we were in each other’s states. I kept making an effort, but he was happy to have me outside his orbit. The confusing part is that he was very kind, complimentary, and consistent via FB comments and texts at least once a week. So it led me to believe he really wanted me in his life. When I let him know that I was giving up texting and email as a way to stay in touch with friends, and that I would love a phone call with him or to see him when he comes out in a few months, I got no reply.

 

The next day, he made a comment on my FB picture and then sent me a text at midnight with a picture of his nephew two days later.

 

I deleted him. From everything. I realized he is only interested in a phantom friendship.

 

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I spent the year clearing out what wasn’t working. And then I started to take a look at people who I had kept at arms length. There were a few. As I examined my own resistance to calling/visiting, I realized that, for me, the relationship had run its course. And now it was time to be honest about my desire to complete the relationships, and not keep up some charade of connection.

 

I’ve become very sensitive to phantom friendships. The kind that survive only by social media and the occasional text message (but no face-to-face or real-time conversations).

•  Mass Christmas and Easter texts.

•  The nebulous, weird-vibey connections with a few guy friends who only inbox at 1 a.m.

•  Anyone who continuously asked for advice or favors but doesn’t take time to develop the other layers of friendship.

•  New male friends who have a lady, but don’t want me meeting their lady.

•  Female friendships that have run their course.

•  Anything and everything that is there … just by default.

 

I even recently let go of 3,500 people from my business subscriber list who hadn’t opened the last 5 emails. Though seeing the exaggerated numbers felt nice, knowing who was in my genuine troupe felt even better.

 

I took an honest assessment of my relationships and realized I wanted to have deeper connections with fewer people. To invest in my tribe. To let go of mass attachments and embrace the sweet, small few. As a result:

 

  • I spend more face time with my family and friends in New York and California.
  • I use Voxer or the phone to communicate.
  • I continue to sort down Facebook friends to people I see in real life or communicate with regularly. (ie. I went from 4,500 FB friends down to 400).
  • I let go of the relationships that are done.

One of the best things about being single that year was the time I’ve had to invest in my friendships and build a close-knit tribe. I truly love the people in my life. The connection I enjoy with them has set the bar incredibly high for all future relationships – whether platonic, business, or romantic.

 

No more phantom friendships. And a big fat YES to sweet, real-time LOVE.

 

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Are you into stuff like this? I write about modern spirituality, love, communication, generosity, and how to run a sustainable small business (while keeping your sanity). Put yourself on the list and you’ll never miss and article or a workshop. xo

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