What to do if you’re ghosted in a friendship
You may or may not know what I’m talking about, but I’m willing to bet that you’ve been ghosted. Most people have at least one time in their lives. However, if like me, you’re a little “out of date” with modern parlance, you may not know that it has happened to you. Or even that you have ‘ghosted’ someone else!
Ghosting is essentially the practice of suddenly withdrawing from a personal relationship with no explanation. It’s different from being benched, because that’s more like putting you on hold. This is more definite than that. For example, the person you were dating who simply stopped responding to phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, messages and any other form of media you used in desperation!
I suppose ghosting has always gone on, it just took some savvy person to coin the phrase and now it’s such an established part of modern lingo it’s even got a definition on Urban Dictionary (I wonder if you can make money from coining a phrase….hmmm…..must think of a good one).
For me, ghosting occurred in the context of a platonic friendship, not an intimate relationship. However, it still made me feel confused, worried and hurt….which makes me think it must be bloody horrendous if you are ghosted by someone you love or with whom you think you may have a future.
I had a dear friend that I met overseas and shared some incredible and hilarious memories with. She lived interstate but we made a concerted effort to visit each other pretty regularly. She got to know my family and I got to know hers – we’re both from Mediterranean backgrounds and thus each family welcomed the other with open arms (and banquet sized tables full of food!). We stayed in each other’s homes and I felt so included in her family I even called her grandmother “Nonna”. We shared our highs and lows with raw honesty.
She had two gorgeous children and so the visits understandably petered out. Some time went by and we hadn’t spoken. A bit more time. I tried calling. No answer. Left a voicemail. No response. Sent a text message. Nothing. Tried email. Zip. My best friend (also just as close with her) gave it a try. Nup. Nada.
I visited her home town for a family wedding and tried getting in touch with her. No response. It was the weirdest feeling being in her neighbourhood and not spending time with this awesome chick!
My best friend and I tried sending Christmas cards….to her house, to Nonna’s house in case she had moved to a new address…..still nothing.
Out of the blue she contacted me after I had my first child. What a joy! She explained that she’d had some personal stuff going on and had therefore withdrawn from everyone for a while. No hard feelings whatsoever, I was so rapt to hear from her and it was just like old times. We chatted a few times and then……..nothing again. No response. Zip. Nada. Bubkiss.
Sadly, this fabulous gal is no longer a part of my life. Our memories are now just that. Memories.
My best friend and I have speculated as to what may have caused this complete withdrawal. We questioned ourselves – did we offend her unintentionally? Did we let her down somehow? I know I probably didn’t quite “get” the whole parenthood gig and how hard it was until years later when I had my own children. Maybe I wasn’t a supportive enough friend to her when she had her kids? Was my friendship not good enough? Did she feel judged by me? Or incapable of confiding in me about her personal issues? (Yes, I’m your typical “over-analyzer” in case you hadn’t guessed).
Over time, however, I came to the conclusion that as frustrating as it was, I would never know the answer. That, if I’m really honest with myself deep down, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about me. It was probably more about her own stuff and her way of dealing with it. This was hard to accept, especially when we had been such close friends for ten years. Did that mean nothing? How could she suddenly cut me out of her life? On reflection, though, I also figured that once she had withdrawn, the thought of reaching out and giving me an explanation probably felt impossible.
If she’s reading this, I hope that one day she does take that seemingly impossible step and picks up the phone. I want her to know that there are absolutely no hard feelings. That I don’t understand what happened, but that it’s OK. I’m still here. And I still miss her.
What to do?
For others, ghosting will hit harder. If that guy or girl you’re infatuated with suddenly ghosts you, the self-doubt could be massive. From my small experience with it, my advice is to (try!) and stop questioning yourself. Just like a typical break-up scenario, the behavior of the “ghoster” says more about them than it does about you. And since they’ve disappeared into thin air, it’s unlikely that you’’ll ever get an honest explanation. So stop trying to guess at it yourself, you’ll only make yourself feel like crap.
And if you find yourself tempted to ghost someone…..well. Perhaps. Don’t. You could try being kind but assertive, or even coming up with a small white lie to spare their feelings.
Remember – as uncomfortable as the relationship might make you, ghosting sure won’t help the other person’s comfort level, so let’s just try and be kind, shall we?
Read more of Malena’s posts here