Today I’ll change things up and kick the week off with a question: What do you do when you know a friendship is drifting apart, but neither party wants to actually end it? Or rekindle it?
I have a friendship in limbo. We don’t live in the same state, so we don’t see each other often. Our relationship has become approximately four months of phone tag to every one semi-awkward conversation.
You know that feeling when it’s been so long since you’ve talked to someone and there’s so much to say that there’s nothing to say? It’s not like you’re going to tell stories about work or what you did over the weekend, because that would require backstory that your friend doesn’t have and you don’t feel like getting into.
So you talk every few months–not because you want to, necessarily, but because you think you should. You’re supposed to. And on those calls you catch up on the basics: Work, family, relationships, kids. Perhaps you quickly catch up on mutual friends. And then someone finds an excuse to get off the phone because neither of you are saying much anyway. And then you think: we haven’t talked in four months and that was our conversation? Are we even friends anymore?
It’s not that either party wronged the other, so you aren’t in a fight. And you’ll see her eventually—mutual friends, remember?—which means you’re not about to initiate some dramatic break up. There’s no cause for one anyway.
So you continue along this path of half-assed phone tag, talking every so often, and wondering after each phone call why you even pretend in the first place.
I feel like this is one of the most uncomfortable stages of friendship, but also a common one. It takes a lot for someone to break up with a friend. We ladies feel so guilty about it that we try to avoid such action under all circumstances. But the infinitely-more-common slink away only feels possible when you know you won’t see her again. Otherwise, it just gets mucho awkwardo when you come to face-to-face and there was no real reason for the drift.
So you ride the friendship wave, right? Is there even another choice? I’m truly curious, because this exact thing happened to me last week. I talked to a lifelong friend on the phone, and it wasn’t that we didn’t like each other, but we just had nothing to say. Our friendship, for all intents and purposes, is over, but neither of us would ever say such a thing.
What would you do? Just keep talking every few months, more out of the respect for the friendship that was than out of actual interest? Or just disengage entirely?