‘If he doesn’t call you, he’s just not that into you’ – a concept I’ve learned the hard way. The penny finally dropping was preceded by years of wondering “maybe he lost my number…but then again, he could contact me on Facebook. OK, so maybe he’s waiting for me to call him? Yes, that must be it! Oh no, actually, he’s ignored my two WhatsApps. Maybe he fell down a manhole, hit his head on the way down which gave him amnesia so he has no memory of me and his rescuers accidentally left his phone down the hole so he can’t even refer to our conversation history to jog his memory!”
In the end, realising that a cold shoulder equals “road closure ahead” has been liberating. I haven’t been wasting weeks wondering if these dates were eventually going to DM me, or dive for my phone every time it rang to see if it was them. I just…chilled out. I came to terms with the face that sometimes you just have no interest in another person. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them – there’s just no spark. Sure, sometimes you will go through the whole date with a film of green spinach masking your teeth which will lead to hearing neither sight nor sound of the date again, but the other 99% of the time, it doesn’t mean necessarily that you’ve done anything wrong.
If I can be so at peace with this form of rejection, why then can I not be at peace with a short-term friend deciding there’s no future in our friendship?
This is by no means the only time this has happened to me, but this most recent friendship break up has wounded me so deeply, one would be forgiven for thinking I was in love with this girl.
Well, in many ways, I was. We’ve been friends for three and a half years (three years if you’re not counting the six months I’ve been talking to her answerphone). It has been a relationship I can count as one of my favourites in my life thus far. The very first night we met, I can recall we were stood in a smoking area as she lit up and I tried tipsily to steady myself on a pot plant. “I don’t want you to go back to university,” she instructed me, almost indignant at the very thought of it. “You should stay in Edinburgh and we can become best friends.” But go back to university I did, until three months later when my semester and exams were over and I returned to Edinburgh for the foreseeable future. I was reunited with my self-proclaimed “soul mate” and it was fantastic. Our first night out together upon my return was an accident: we had arranged just to go for some pub grub and a couple of pints at one of the student dives, but come 3:30am we were being unceremoniously thrown out of Bongo for “excessively boisterous behaviour”. I crashed at hers until 7am when my alarm reminded me it was Thursday and I had a paying job that I needed to haul my arse to.
“Please don’t go!” she pleaded as I leapt out of bed, dressing myself frantically.
“I’ve got to be at work in…fucking hell, twenty-five minutes!!! Have you seen my car keys?”
“I’m not giving them to you. I want you to stay here with me. We can watch Made In Chelsea on my laptop in bed.”
“I have to go, I’m sorry.”
“I have bacon in the fridge. I can make you a bacon butty!”
“I really ca…”
“I’ll poach an egg too!!”
“Hun I’m sorry, I want to stay but I have to go to work. Let’s hang out on the weekend, hey?”
Finally she released my hostage car keys and off I drove with that warm, fuzzy feeling which glows from the inside out when you know you’ve found a keeper.
Two years passed and we were inseparable. We laughed hysterically, supported each other through heartbreaks and traumas, and enjoyed the type of friendship that only comes along once or twice in a lifetime. It was a telepathic bond coupled with a deep-seated respect for one another.
It was therefore heart wrenching for me when she was faced with no choice but to move back to her parents’ home in Birmingham due to redundancy, lack of salary with which to pay rent and absolutely no savings that hadn’t been ransacked for the sake of our uncountable nights out.
During the first year we were apart we made a pact to see each other once a month without fail. I went to her, she came to me, we met in the middle. Then suddenly, twelve months in, I just stopped receiving responses from her. My calls rang to answerphone, my messages were left on read. I sent a birthday card, a Christmas card, an “Are you still alive? I’m worried” card, but received nothing in return.
Racking my brain for some kind of clue as to what went wrong, I came up with precisely nothing. At my wits end, I messaged to ask what I had done wrong. Finally, I was afforded a response:
“Nothing’s wrong. I’ve just been really busy lately. Sorry.”
‘Too busy to even text your best friend for six months?’ I thought. Not taking her word for it, I approached a mutual friend to ask if she’d been in contact with her.
“Yes we spoke on the phone just last week. For two hours, would you believe!”
So there it was, loud and clear: the problem was with me. I was being ghosted and still had not the foggiest as to why. I accepted our break up was out of my hands, but did so with much undignified weeping.
The mutual friend decided to comfort me with words which just bruised me further.
“She said you didn’t do anything wrong. She just doesn’t think you have anything in common anymore.”
Plunging the knife in even further, she quoted her, saying “If we met now, I don’t think we’d become friends.”
She can’t help this feeling and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me, just like it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me when a date doesn’t call. I just…wasn’t for them. That I can accept. But what I am failing to come to terms with is how my best friend, my “soul mate” just doesn’t see a space in her life for me anymore. That is a far more bitter pill to swallow than any romantic break up I’ve ever been through.
Why is this so much rougher? My guess is that with a romantic relationship, I always know in the back of my mind that there’s a potential for it to end or for feelings to change, so with men I always have the most translucent of guards up to protect me from being shattered upon being dropped. But with friendship, I love wholeheartedly. I trust without question. I commit. It’s for these reasons that I don’t have a large group of loos friends who come and go like the seasons; I have a handful of tight, intense friendships to which I devote all my care and energy.
So to hear that she doesn’t really feel anything for me anymore is a hundred times more devastating than any flaky guy ghosting me just because he doesn’t fancy me. That kind of rejection is shallow and inconsequential. But my “soul mate” not needing me anymore is a rejection of my love which I have so abundantly given her for over three years.
Accepting the break up is the only choice I now have. Apparently, ‘to get over somebody, you need to get under somebody’…if only there was Tinder for friendships.