FAUX-SHIPS ON GHOST SHIPS (AND GETTING THAT BOOTY)
Today, I want to talk about friendships. It’s my personal belief that finding a group of girlfriends, is a much harder expedition to set out on than finding a boyfriend. It’s not because girls are bitchy and two faced. I know plenty of guys who are equally as bad, and quite frankly, sometimes worse. It’s because you have sex with your boyfriends, which erases, excuses, or distracts you from how shitty they can make you feel, and how horrible they are treating you. You expect boyfriends to disappoint you and break your heart, sure - but, you also expect them to make it up to you by waving their magic wands around inside your vagina for a few minutes. Rarely do you anticipate your girlfriends letting you down, and when they do, there’s no joystick for them to lend you to make you feel better… or, if there was, you probably wouldn’t want use it. Therefore, when it comes to friendships, you have even less tolerance than your hymen when it breaks for the first time.
When I was younger, my mother warned me than if I constantly wrote people off for not being exactly like me, I’d be alone forever. But, my thought was at least I’d be in exceptional company! In my mind, quality was always more valuable than quantity. I have high standards, and I refuse to lower the bar simply because people aren’t interested in growing enough to reach it. I don’t believe in participation trophies, and, to me, this is simply an extension of the concept. I’ve always considered myself a good friend and have always believed whatever I put into a relationship is equivalent with what I expect to get out of one. Anything else was not only illogical, but what I considered to be settling. And, if I shouldn’t settle when it came to picking a mate, why was choosing a group of girls to surround myself with any different?
My revolving door of friendships never stopped from my elementary school days until just three years ago. Coincidentally, this was the same time I met my current boyfriend. When it came to my love life, I had finally had enough. I was done being with people who didn’t have their shit together, and I was sick of having things taken from me when so little was ever reciprocated. I had decided to put a pin in dating and focused on using my scars to motivate me further in my career. Naturally, I leaned on my friendships surrounding me to be entertained and to get through the aches, pains, and monotony, of being an adult human on this planet.
In Los Angeles, it’s incredibly hard to find people who are not selfish, self-serving, opportunistic, and flaky. In a city where superficiality reigns, and a “personality” is an actual career, not to mention an extremely lucrative one, it’s not uncommon to find people who are more interested in a lasting relationship with their cosmetic surgeon than in a partnership - let alone a friendship. The apparent options are either to lower your standards, surround yourself with faux-ships riding ghost ships, or die of eternal loneliness. Faux-ships riding ghost ships are what I describe as social media friendships - but in the flesh. Instead of being confined to the interweb, they’re confined to superficial run-ins, meetings, and gatherings. These “friends” keep tabs on your life, with the sole intention of comparing it to theirs, and they only wish you a happy birthday because an App reminded them to. As soon as there’s a real life crisis or a real human emotion that presents itself, they disappear and sail on to the next good time. Another, more familiar term for these people is “fair weather friend.”
As much as it pains me to say, unless you move to Los Angles with friends from “back home,” the options are limited, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid having faux-ships masquerading around as real friendships in your life. They’re all wearing their masks (and not just because almost everyone here is an actor playing dress up), but you’re too lonely and desperate to see, or through, their transparent dispositions. You crave human connection so badly, you ultimately end up settling for much less than you deserve just so you can have anything - at all. Or, you crave social media “likes” so much, you snap images of yourself hanging out with people you don’t even like, or know, to look like you’re having an incredible time, to other people you don’t even like… or know.
I started to “come to” after a few instances that were too infuriating to go ignored. One of note, was when one of my “friends,” was a few weeks out from her wedding day. One morning, we started working on a project together, and I suddenly felt very ill. After throwing up in the bathroom, I asked if she could drive me to the Emergency Room, as my stomach hurt so badly I, literally, could not stand up straight. Despite the fact I had informed her it felt like food poisoning, she was convinced I had the flu or some other contageous virus. Not wanting to risk ruining her wedding day by catching whatever she was sure I had, my “friend” made it very clear she didn’t want to be anywhere near me, and sent me home. Barely making it, I drove myself back to my apartment - and passed out. I woke a few hours later to the sound of EMTs banging at my front door, as my worried mother, from a State away, had called an ambulance to come get me. The diagnosis? An allergic reaction to consuming raw almonds. As far as I know, digestive nut allergies are not contagious; although, ironically, this “friend” does have a nut allergy.
My “friend” never did apologize. It’s amazing that someone who expects their friends to travel over 200 miles for her destination wedding wouldn’t even drive the two miles it was to the hospital. And while you might think the friendship ended right then and there, I remind you that it’s Los Angeles, and I had fallen desperate. One time, I even tolerated being uninvited from a dinner party because I wasn’t in a couple. Once the host saw that most of her “Yes” RSVPs were couples, she changed the get together to a couple’s dinner, and uninvited all her single friends. She “didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable” or like a ninth wheel. “Them” was me, and I was the only “single” invited.
But, my blinders came off a few years ago, as I said, when I met my current boyfriend. Finally privy to falling under the hypnotism of physical attraction, I was free to look for and find, what I really wanted and needed in someone else. My type had gone from “Brown Hair/ Blue Eyes, 6’2”, and good in bed” to “a good listener, good to his mother, selfless, and supportive.” I was blind to the qualities that didn’t matter, and focused on the ones that did. Shopping for a mate that way not only landed me everything I was looking for, it felt less stressful, less difficult, and far more fulfilling. I’d finally met someone I deserved - who lived up to my standards. It was only a matter of time before I considered applying this method to my quest for female friendships. And, in just a few short months, I had a concrete group of girlfriends I could always depend on, making the faux-ships on ghost ships that much easier to recognize and even more simple to exorcise.
Occasionally, they reappear, as was the case recently, which inspired this particular post. A “friend” I hadn’t heard from in nearly a year, resurfaced, randomly asking for my address via text. I knew why she needed it, but I wanted no part. Remember, the definition of a faux-ship on a ghost ship: a social media friend in the flesh. Knowing our relationship was built on superficiality, and knowing she was pregnant - via Instagram, it became incredibly easy to see the motive behind her actions. I hate baby showers. Even if they’re for friends I hold dear - although then they're MUCH easier to tolerate. So, you can imagine how much I hate them when they’re being thrown for people I don’t really care about! The cliche false excitement, the cliche silly games, and the cliche elaborate display of money spent on an unborn soul, is just something I don’t understand and certainly don’t want to subject myself to. If men don’t have to, I shouldn’t have to. Just because I have a vagina, doesn’t mean I can’t act like a dick. The problem is, as a woman, if you don’t go, you are still obligated to get a gift in your absence. So, my philosophy was: if I can’t get an invitation, I’m not obligated to celebrate your occasion with you, and, I’m certainly not obligated to get you a gift in my absence - which, let’s be honest, is the real reason she was going to invite me anyway. If she hadn’t sought out my company in over 24 months (that’s a play on babies - in case you missed it), how am I supposed to believe it means anything to her, to have me at her shower? Her text went unanswered. Does ignoring her make me an asshole? Am I assuming the worst in someone and becoming less as a result? Nope, that’s not the way I look at it.
Life is too short to subject yourself to what makes you feel: self-conscious, uncomfortable, under-appreciated, taken advantage of, or unhappy. Do not submit - do not resign. My mother is almost always right. But, I have to say, she was wrong in this instance. Pick people like you. Pick people who are better versions of you. They exist. They are inspiring. They are essential. Your high standards can only deliver the happiness and quality of life you so deserve. For me, it helped to look at what I felt I offered, what people would get from either dating me or being my friend. Then I asked myself if those were the qualities I wanted/needed in someone else. Another strategy is to focus on the negative. What don’t you want from a friendship or a partnership? What could you never, ever tolerate? If someone exposes any of those qualities, you know to look elsewhere for what you’re after.
Every single person in my life today adds something to it that makes me better and stronger, just as their friendship with me does for them. It’s hard to find people who possess the qualities you’re looking for. Most often, it’s because we aren’t sure of what that really is or what it looks like. We’re blinded by and focused on, what doesn’t matter. And while it can hold our attention for a while, ultimately, it leaves us feeling empty and unsatisfied. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you are less than what you are, especially at the hand of people who are less than you. The good ones are out there, but it’s your job to know how to find them. Stop at nothing until you do. Like all good things in life, the reward is well worth the fight.