27 October 2010

Now You See Her, Now You Don't

Listening to: Vampire Weekend, "Taxi Cab." I believe everyone is into Vampire Weekend, and I guess I am now too after two selections in a few weeks. I can't even decide which song I like better, Taxi Cab or Oxford Comma. "Unsentimental, driving around, sure of myself, sure of it now / you stand this close to me, like the future was suppose to be..."

There's probably a better term for this but I'll go ahead and call it the "ghost relationship." My friends and I were sitting around compiling a list of who in our circle we think "most needs to be in a relationship," ranked highest to lowest (this is the kind of stuff we like to do), and the question came up of what to do with "unofficial significant others."

For example, some people don't have a lot of actual relationships but they tend to have a ghost person that fulfills all of those functions. This person could rightly be categorized as a best friend type but there's also the element of attraction -- usually from just one party. The difference between a ghost relationship and say, a friend hookup or a friend with benefits, is that the ghost is there to take care of the person's emotional needs.

Person you call in times of stress? Check. Person you talk to before heading off to bed? Check. Person you call to come over and watch a movie when you just feel like being at home on a Saturday? Check. Keep in mind that these two people aren't in a dating relationship either. To the whole world they are "just friends" but that vague hole a significant other usually occupies is temporarily filled by the ghost relationship.

If you're constantly fending off comments like the ones below, it's a good first sign that you may be in a ghost relationship:

"Are the two of you dating?"
"If you're not dating why do you need to call them back right now?"
"Isn't that a job for the significant other?"
"Would the two of you just do it and get it over with? I'm starving!"
There are different types of ghost relationships of course. Aside from the "emotional needs ghost friend," there's also the kind of ghost that is a relationship in everything but name and Facebook status. Think of everything a typical significant other does: be sweet, be mean, be available, be guilt tripped, be physically intimate, etc. Some people refuse to say that they're going out with someone but if you just take the facts, they totally are.

Basically the rule of thumb for a "ghost" is that it's an emotional hookup. Sustained over a period of time that ghost hookup becomes an entire ghost relationship. And that's when you rise higher in our "most needs to be in a relationship" ranking even if you're not actually in official relationships very often.

Our relationship accounting from here on out will now factor in both real and ghost relationships, in order to evaluate your ranking correctly. Be warned.