By Candace McDuffie
“How could you just abandon her like that?”
That was the question I faced from a close friend right after I cut off all contact from a mutual one of ours. I felt it had been a long time coming; our communication had dwindled from regular phone calls and hangout sessions to kneejerk social media likes and sporadic, long-winded text messages. When we actually did speak, every conversation led back to her — her life, her problems, her insecurities, her needs. Our talks became riddled with cheap sentiment.
Although we’ve known each other close to a decade, our memories were inevitably watered down to embarrassing highlights from our first few years of friendship. We would reminisce about old rivalries and drunken antics, as if these stories could work to remedy our now forced fictive kinship. In the face of yet another hollow exchange, I had a choice to make. I could either continue to play along for the sake of routine and complacency, explain that our relationship had lost its vitality and try to work on it, or remove myself from her life.
It wasn’t an easy conclusion to come to, but I ultimately decided to ghost her–an action that possesses a different connotation when it comes to the realm of friendship. Ghosting is usually discussed in terms of romantic relationships when one person just isn’t as invested as the other anymore and, instead of airing their grievances, they choose to walk–and stay–away without explanation. It’s unpredictable and selfish and hurtful–and is typically explained from the perspective of the person who was ghosted.
I’m opposed to the act of ghosting when it comes to serious dating. If you’re planning a future with a significant other–and are discussing things like marriage and children–leaving without warning is the wrong thing to do. But in the rare instances that I’ve completely left friends, it became obvious that the very nature of our relationship wasn’t mutually beneficial anymore. Opting out of justifying my decision wasn’t about being cold-hearted or dramatic–it was about giving up the emotional labor that I unknowingly signed up for.
I’ve always considered the friendships I’ve maintained as a point of pride. I have worked over the years to cultivate meaningful and formidable relationships with women who I genuinely respect and like being around. But when the respect and enjoyment diminish–and I start to feel taken for granted–following my instincts to preserve my peace takes precedence over other people’s feelings. When your mind is made up about not wanting someone in your life anymore, having the awkward discussion of why you want out only serves the person looking to save the friendship–because its existence is advantageous solely to them.
As women, we are constantly told to support and elevate other people whether they are friends, family or romantic partners. For Black women, this narrative is even more damning because we are constantly viewed as mules whose value is measured by the service we provide to others. As I’ve gotten older, I realized the importance of not only self-care, but distancing myself from people who only have their interests at heart. And if someone has made it clear that they longer feel nourished by your company, why in the world would you want them to stay?