Tug & Follow

In a podcast today, I came across the term “ghosting”. While I had possibly heard this term before, I wasn’t terribly sure of the exact definition. In my explorations to find out more, I came across this interesting sentence:

“The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.”

As I cleaned my teeth tonight, I thought about this. If love is caring then yes, indifference is not caring. But, in a sense, hate is caring too. Hate is too active to be not caring. So is indifference also the opposite of hate? Normally you would see a spectrum, with love and hate at each end and indifference in the middle.

Love —–> Indifference —–> Hate

I care deeply for you–> I don’t care – – >I care to hurt you

But in the context of ghosting, I can see how the sentence was arrived at. A person wants out of a relationship but that doesn’t necessarily mean they HATE their friend/partner. It just means they think the relationship isn’t working. They have options. They can choose from a variety of ways to inform the partner/friend of their decision, thereby likely causing hurt and likely having repercussions on their own emotional stability. Or they can “ghost” the friend/partner, thereby still causing hurt but maintaining their own stability.

So, a person who “ghosts” another person is protecting themselves and showing indifference to the other. Is it indifference? It says “I can’t be bothered to inform you of the state of my feelings. Make what you can of my silence.”. Or perhaps it is pure fear.

I am guilty of actively breaking away from four friendships in the course of my life. I don’t believe I have ghosted any of those people, although the most recent feels uncomfortably close. And that’s why I had to find out more about the term.

Breaking off a friendship/relationship is never nice. It WILL cause hurt, no matter how it is done. But I think, in most situations, it is more respectful to tell the person what you are doing and why. They might hate you for a bit but at least they know where they stand.

Personally, I hate confrontation and conflict. I dread it to the point of making myself sick. But I like closure. I like to feel that there is a beginning and a middle and an ending to things. And for people who you really care about, that is more important, right? An acquaintance can drift away and you just lose contact. It’s not an active thing. It’s just like two leaves taking different paths on the whims of a breeze. But if two people care about each other, they won’t drift because they are tied by some inextricable bond. That bond can only become stresseed and snap. It doesn’t slip off gently like a loose hairband.

I have a friend (an ex work colleague) whose daughter was born two days before mine. Every year on my daughter’s birthday she texts me and wishes my daughter a happy day. And sometimes, around Christmas, she suggests a catch up. But if I contact her between those times, she rarely responds and I find that difficult. I struggle to be a once-a-year friend. Or maybe I struggle with her having all the control.

A friend said to me tonight that the period between meeting somebody and then the part where you’ve known them for years is tortuous. I know what she means. But recently I have lost a dear friend who I have known for more than twenty years. The slow losing of her over four years was tortuous. And the ending of that friendship grieves me deeply because I still can’t explain it. There wasn’t one resounding snap. It was more like multiple tiny snaps that I didn’t even recognise at the time. And I don’t quite know how the last little bond broke. How did it happen? How can I tell her when I can’t explain it to myself? I am still so confused.

Friendship is between two people. It is like an elastic kind of tug-o-war as you set the conditions of your relationship. Somebody tugs and the other must follow or stretch the bond. You tug and you follow and you tug and you follow. And if you do more of one and less of the other, you wander far from one somebody’s preferred course. But if you stretch the bond too far…

I am not indifferent. I can’t find a place for indifference in any part of a friendship.

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