There’s an expectation that, when you get to the age where you start cutting your eye at little boys (or little girls, depending on your twist), you’ll eventually get your heart hijacked once or twice. Suffer through a couple of breakups. Experience the unique anguish of one of those nights where you worry your sheets into a tangled, mangled mess of 800-thread-count wildness because you can only sleep in hour-long increments—only to wake up and check to see if you missed a call while you were dozing. That comes with the territory when you’re dealing with certain affairs of the heart. But nobody really warns you that you might have to someday dump a homegirl, too.
I haven’t talked to one of my oldest friends in about five months. It hasn’t been one of those situations where time just kind of got away from us because we’ve both been so wrapped up in the day-to-day living of our lives. It’s been somewhat of an experiment on my end to see how much time has to pass before she calls to check on me for a change. Usually it’s the other way around. I’ll wonder how she’s doing and hit her up on Facebook or shoot her a text to let her know I’m thinking of her or give her a call to catch up on all the goings-on of her life. There generally isn’t space to fit any updates about me in there but I don’t call her to talk about me. I mean, it would be nice if she inquired about my daughter or my career or my ongoing battle against these 20 extra pounds but hey, I guess that’s what blogging and social media are for.
We’ve been friends for about 15 years and my goodness, that’s a mighty long time to have someone in your life. But little does she know, she’s about to get cut. Permanently. Her absence has given me the reflection space I needed to run the mental highlight reel of our relationship. And you know what? It ain’t even really a highlight reel at all so much as it’s a TV One-like string of reruns that involved me being there for her, but not so much the other way around.
Sobbing, three o’clock in the morning calls when her boyfriends dumped her? Yeah, I was there to take them. Mid-day vents when I had work to do and errands to run for myself? I put everything I was doing on hold to sit and give her the same tired, damn-I-wish-I-had-a-dollar-for-every-time-I’ve-said-this advice. Actually, that’s the only time that she really bothers to call me—when she’s smack dab in her singleness. But when she’s got a man? She’s missing in action. Being her rock was what I thought a good friend did, even if I knew she wouldn’t have done the same thing for me. As it turns out, I was being a noble martyr for no good reason. So I’m ending our one-sided friendship. And there are a few other “friends” that I think we as women tend to hold on to for a variety of reasons that need to get their walking papers:
The Stageless Actress. Drama follows this chick like smoke clouds at a cannabis convention. She thrives on the attention and in the process, is a drain to the folks around her that she constantly calls—and calls and calls and calls—to vent her latest escapades to. There isn’t a bar fight or a public altercation she doesn’t like, but being her friend is, in a word, exhausting. And sometimes dangerous. She’s needy because no one forces her to accept responsibility for her actions and woman up, so there’s always a little bit of calm before her next storm. But the next storm is guaranteed.
The Joy Drainer. “Hater” is, next to “bling-bling” and “swagger,” the most overused urban culture colloquialism produced by us trendsetting Black folks, and I hate using it for that very reason. But sometimes it’s still the best way to describe that friend who is a natural-born naysayer, overwhelmingly negative, and just generally doesn’t have nothin’ good to say about anybody or anything going on in other people’s lives. You bought a new house, she poo poos about the neighborhood. You get a new job, she focuses on how long it took you to find it. Don’t invite her to a parade because she’s darn sure fittin’ to rain on it.
The Déjà vu Friend. We all start shaping our personalities in grade school, but the experiences of life and, in some cases, higher education kind of bend and twist us into the people we eventually become as adults. Unfortunately, sometimes we have a same ol’, same ol’ friend, the woman who somehow has managed to not change one bit from the way she was back in high school or—heaven help us—even before that. She laughs at the same kind of immature mess that made y’all giggle when you were at sleepovers and conversation about anything deeper than the latest episode of Basketball Wives is all but impossible. In short, you’ve outgrown her.
Women are, by nature’s programming, loyal and allegiant—to our family, to our men and to our friends. Go ‘head with all that talk about being catty backstabbers and conniving cutthroats. Most of the ladies I know have more of a problem sticking in with defunct relationships that needed to have their time of death called a long, long time ago. Chicks will ride it out with the best and the worst with the same valiance. But just like with a dude, we gotta learn when to give it up for our own good and let a girlfriend go.