by Jess Burnquist
If you live long enough you will have the privilege of reflecting back on your life and those in it. In particular, you'll have the chance to review friendships, some of which have persisted from youth through today. And, you will be able to reflect on the friendships that didn't survive the journey.
The thing about mid-life is that most of us are experienced enough to spot the signs of a friendship — but we are also typically very busy and, really, who doesn't need an occasional reminder. Here are the top five reasons why you may need to ghost on a garbage friend. It may also be helpful to hold yourself up to this list — I had some a-ha moments myself. In the meantime, this is a handy starting point to determine if it is time to kick a friendship to curb, or better yet, address some trash-behavior in a friendship worth recycling.
Why You Need to Ghost on This Garbage
1. Lack of reciprocation
When I was 10 years old, my dad yelled at me for not behaving with more reciprocation. I had no idea what he was talking about. He kept breaking the word into syllabic beats as if that would help me understand: Re-cip-ro-ca-tion. In any case, I looked reciprocation up that day and decided my dad was full of crap, but the word itself, and the practice, are a good standard of measurement for a friendship.
Are you the giver 100 percent of the time? Do you think of your friend and let him or her know it with zero prompting only to be forgotten on rather significant occasions? Does your friend ever say thank you? There should be a mirroring of effort even if circumstances prevent the effort from being on the same level.
2. Your friend's partner hates you (vice-versa)
This is not good. This is a no-win kind of pickle. It may be that your friend's partner is a real dillhole, but if your friend doesn't see it, you're out of luck. What you find to be insufferable behavior may be what your friend loves most about this toxic person. And, as hard as this might be to take, your friend's partner may loathe you. Perhaps you're outspoken, or you don't like the family dog, or you have short hair and that is somehow threatening. It doesn't really matter. If your friend ignores her/his partner's verbal digs and eye rolls being made toward you, it's time to call it a day.
3. Your friend is materialistic and gets off on judging you
I had to ghost on a friend who was unable to make plans that didn't include an expensive lunch and some form of shopping. When my husband and I bought our first house, the one we still occupy, she came over, walked through it and announced, "It's so cute. This is a great starter house but the kids' bedrooms are kind of small and your furniture is all wrong." She then recommended a trip to a high-end furniture store. End game.
4. Your friend's kids suck
There was the one who went to bathroom and decided to poop on the floor then grinned like Damien behind your friend's loving, half-hearted post-scolding embrace. The one who tried to drown your child in the kiddie pool. The one who tried to convert your child after telling him he was going to hell. There were the siblings who taught your 3-year-old all of the words having to do with sex — some of which you had to look up. The one who told you everything her mother, your friend, said about you after your last visit. And there is the fact that your friend can't seem to see any of this behavior for what it is — rotten. Time to ghost.
5. Your friend is of the leech variety
This one is tricky because you are inexplicably drawn to this friend in the beginning. You feel a connection that appears to be not only mutual but also based on genuine interest and thoughtfulness. It is only when another friend, perhaps your significant other, points out to you that your five minute phone call has turned into three hours and in that time he's only heard you say five things that you become aware of a pattern. Ding! You've won the emotional vampire friend.
This friend depends on your counsel and at times, your resources. This friend forgets to introduce you to others at parties but depends on you to drive him or her home. This friend is making great strides in his or her career, one that you share, and covets opportunity like a Depression Era loaf of bread. This person is sucking your creativity dry and profiting from it probably without even knowing so. This friend is not a friend. Acquaintance, perhaps. Vampire, fer sure. Eat some garlic and ghost.
Then, get in touch with the friends who are the true blessings in your life and be sure to thank them for not being garbage.
Jess Burnquist teaches high school English and Creative Writing in Arizona. Because she has a teenage son and daughter, she is literally surrounded by adolescents 24/7. Sit with that for a minute. Her writings and teaching blog can be found at www.jessburnquist.com.