I have several groups of friends that I text with on a regular basis. Each of these groups is an important part of my daily/weekly social interaction and I am very thankful to have them in my life. Without these texts groups, I would go long periods without having any meaningful adult conversations with anyone besides my husband.
I have felt somewhat uncomfortable participating in one of the text groups for a while now. While I’ve considered asking to be removed from the text chain, I’ve always stopped myself because I know that is a request I cannot unmake, and that it will have irreparable ramifications to those friendships. So I’ve stuck around, participating less and less, and learning to just go with the flow when it comes to those discussions.
Recently I realized what it was that makes me so hesitant to participate in text “conversations” with these friends; I no longer feel I can be my authentic self with them. There are myriad reasons for this, stemming from both conflicts in the past and responses (or a lack thereof) in the present. In the end it doesn’t really matter why I feel I can’t be myself with them, all that’s important is that I really and truly don’t feel that I can express myself in a truthful way.
When I do say something that reflects my actual feelings I usually get crickets. I can never be sure if it’s because of what I said or life pulling them away from their phone in precisely that moment, but I’ve gone back and reviewed conversations and it does seem accurate that my statements end a text conversation more than others’ do. Other times my comment is simply ignored; nobody acknowledges what I’ve said in any way. Since I don’t feel like I can say what I actually feel, I end up not saying much or saying something I think they want to hear.
It’s not surprising that I no longer feel very close to these friends. If you can’t talk about what is really important to you, or express your views honestly, then distance will develop. And yet I can’t seem to take the definitive steps to pull away. I’m too scared to let go of what little is left of those friendships, and in the end I convince myself that having friends, even if I can’t be genuine with them, is better than not having them at all.
But maybe that isn’t right. Maybe that is letting fear win. Maybe if I let those friendships go I’ll have more time and emotional bandwidth to cultivate new friendships in which I can be my more authentic self. Maybe it’s precisely in the not letting go of these friendships that I have made it impossible to find the new friendships I so crave.
I definitely have to think about this more. If I could remain distant friends with these people, without having to be on their text chains–basically, if I could still have amicable conversations with them if events with shared friends brought us together, without having to converse with them on a daily basis–that would be the best case scenario. I just don’t know how to manage that without hurting their feelings and making it apparent that I no longer feel I belong, or can be honest with them (and therefor destroying the opportunity for amicable conversations if we do end up at the same events). If you all have any suggestions, please pass them along. I think I might finally ready to step away from daily participation in these friendships, and I hope to do that without totally destroying them. But how?
Do you feel you can be your authentic self with all your friends? If not, do you maintain those friendships, or let them go?