Is It Time To Drop Your ‘Mirage Friends’?
The term was coined by Dr Katherine Hawley, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, who told Cosmopolitan being a mirage friend is about much more than being forgetful – in fact, she thinks they’re taking advantage of your BFF status.
“Mirage friends feel free to treat close friends and family worse than not-so-close friends,” she revealed. “They rely on close friends to forgive, to understand, to move on without feeling resentful."
So that explains why someone you’ve known since childhood might feel far less guilty cancelling on you last-minute than a co-worker would – and they probably won’t feel the need to have a genuine excuse either. “Soooo busy”, “Swamped with work”, “Think I’m coming down with something”…
Sound familiar? Hawley warns that these types of friends could be doing a number on your self-esteem. "Constantly being let down makes us feel disrespected, even unloved, and that’s tough to experience from a best friend," she told Cosmo. "We need to feel that we’re somebody's priority, not their afterthought."
If you’re dealing with a mirage friend – but don’t want to lose them – the professor advises calling them out on their behaviour. But rather than getting angry with them for letting you down, she recommends bringing up their thoughtlessness instead and suggesting ways around it, such as asking for advance notice if they have to cancel, or making weekend lunch plans if their evenings seem to be taken up with last-minute work deadlines.
There’s also a major exception to look out for – when a friend starts to mirage you out of the blue, and it’s completely out of character, this could be an indication they’re going through a tough time. If you think that’s the case, it’s always worth reaching out and dropping any grudges.
But as for those with no excuse? If they’re constantly cramping your style and making you feel like second best, it might be time to stop putting in all the effort and focusing on friends who are actually there when you need them.
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