A girlfriend of mine has a phrase that makes me squirm a little bit for its dead-on bloodless accuracy. Phasing Out.
It's the girlfriend equivalent of breaking up, but slowly and with a fair degree of subtlety.
Over the years, this girlfriend has 'phased out' several women friends and made not very much of a secret of what she was up to. I find the honesty refreshing.
It appears her honesty doesn't hurt her social life at all since her coterie of friends and acquaintances is vast and ever-changing; each year, she squeezes about 100 people into her 900-square foot loft downtown for a party.
I was surprised recently, though, when I asked about a woman she'd introduced me to, and the breezy answer I got was, "Oh, she's phasing me out." The girlfriend in question is recently married and appears to be busy dumping pretty much all of her former life, becoming immersed in her hubby and his life, so my friend wasn't taking it personally.
Starting a new romance generally does mean changes when it comes to the rest of our relationships. Having a child does the same thing. I generally expect any friend who becomes a mother to disappear from the lunch and party scene, and am immensely surprised by mothers who manage to have any social life at all. Frankly, I would be suspect of their mothering if they did have enough time for me.
While I'm not a mother, I admit I've 'phased out' my fair share of women friends, but I generally do it in dramatic fashion after a 'final straw' incident informs me that a person I once held dear was never really a friend in the first place. For some reason, I seem to be fascinated by drama queens and then am terribly disappointed when they behave like, well, drama queens. It's a lesson I like to think I've finally learned after at least five such incidents over the years.
But when my friend 'the phaser' told me she was being phased, I realized just how often we let people slide out of our lives without deliberate phasing or dramatic dumping. In the last year, I have lost touch with three terrific women whose lives have dramatically changed because of boyfriends or children, husbands or commutes.
I'm happy I knew them and we had great times together, but upon reflection, I realize I'm not doing a whole lot to track them down or make plans. Would that be considered a "mutual phase", then? I'll have to ask my friend who came up with the term to better define it.