Q: I kind of hate my best friend. Dan was my college roommate. I was the shy kid from nowhere; he was the one with experiences beyond his years. He lost his virginity on a hayride, did mushrooms at 14 and could always outtalk everybody else in the room. He introduced me to everything: drugs, girls and drama. Flash-forward a decade. I’ve landed a decent job and a comfortable living situation, while Dan is still living like a 21-year-old. He works part-time at a grocery store and wakes up next to a new Tinder date every morning. Maybe it’s jealousy, but lately I find him to be grotesque. These days we don’t have much to talk about, unless the subject is Dan and how many chicks he’s hooked up with or drugs he’s done. I’m starting to think our friendship has run its course. Am I being too sensitive, or is Dan a total douche caboose I need to drop?
It sounds as though Dan is what I like to call a “manic pixie fuck-boy.” The MPFB is marked by his slight handsomeness, impressive speech, emotional meltdowns and an insistence on making your life more “meaningful”—whether you want him to or not. In the romantic realm, breaking up with an MPFB is hard because, well, there’s never actually any true “dating” in the first place. Your connection with Dan is a platonic alliance between bros, but a common toxic friendship narrative keeps you together: The MPFB gets to fuck up, and in turn you get to be the “real adult,” the one with your shit together.
To discuss these dynamics I brought together a cadre of Prada-bag-wielding bitches who refuse to settle but are not impervious to the MPFB’s charms. After comparing notes on archetypal MPFBs—Shia LaBeouf! Ethan Hawke!—we got down to the issue at hand. One of the girls, Helena, 26, sat forward with a serious expression. “They’re unstable, and that’s what is interesting to us,” she said. “Other women would walk away within minutes of meeting this type of dude, but the cycle of being chased and then rejected is intoxicating.”
“I often casually date MPFBs,” said Maureen, 29. “I treat them with as much humanity as they treat me: none. And that’s why it’s necessary to ghost on them. Of course they’ll blow up your phone. If it gets bad, just send a text saying you need to break it off, and leave it at that.”
“But a manic pixie fuck-boy never really lets go,” warned Gabby, 22. The girls concurred enthusiastically. “You agree to take space, and the next thing you know, he’s based a character in his novel on you.” (Be grateful, Sensitive Bro, that you’ll never have to read your “fictional” sex scene in which an MPFB narrates the thoughts running through his mind as he goes limp, suddenly aware of a certain existential malaise, the sound of the curtains rustling in the A/C.)
Defriending the douchebag is the best way to break the cycle you’re stuck in. Friendship works only when it’s voluntary. The people in an MPFB’s life are a captive audience to his genius. There is no contract binding you to Dan—only the bro-ment, which you should enjoy, not endure. Ghost away.