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Facing the end of a friendship is just as devastating, if not more painful, than facing the demise of a romantic relationship. You were so close with your bestie, sharing your innermost secrets and dreams, and suddenly she disappeared from your life. Despite our best efforts, though, not all friendships are meant to last forever. But what do you do when a friend ghosts you? And how can you possibly figure out what went wrong when she won’t return your calls? That’s a particular type of friendship breakup that is hard to swallow.
If you’ve been ghosted by a friend, first off, let me give you a giant hug because I know firsthand how it feels to be deserted by a BFF. One minute I was hanging out at her place in Montreal, the next minute she wasn’t returning my phone calls or bothering to let me know she couldn’t come to my annual summer BBQ. After almost 10 years of friendship, I was left with only memories and a whole lot of confusion and hurt.
I remember thinking constantly that I had done something wrong — even if I wasn’t sure that was entirely true. Because what else could it have been? I was riddled with anxiety and guilt for months afterwards, thinking I was a horrible friend, someone who didn’t deserve an explanation or even a goodbye.
Being ghosted by a friend sucks. And, in my opinion, it hurts way more than any other friendship breakup because the ghosted is often left without closure. If you’ve been ghosted, here’s what you need to know. And P.S., it’s all going to be okay.
Above everything else, you need to know that being ghosted is not your fault and is definitely more of a reflection of the person doing the ghosting.
“It means the friend either does not have the energy, emotional readiness, time, or ability to confront the person they are ghosting,” psychotherapist Dr. Kimberly Schaffer told HelloGiggles. “They are choosing themselves over the person they ghosted.”
Some people just don’t want to make waves or state their needs. Again, this is more of a character flaw of the ghoster and not your fault.
Said Dr Schaffer, “Most people do not like confrontation, but the ghoster is not able or willing to be assertive and explain why they do not want to continue the relationship. Instead, the ghoster chooses passive-aggressive communication and avoids the person without explaining why. This leaves the person who was ghosted feeling confused and hurt.”
You might not know exactly why your friend did what she did, but understanding her communication style, or lack of it, can help you find the closure you need.
Though how someone chooses to deal with a situation says more about them than it does about you, that doesn’t mean that your past behavior or actions didn’t play a part in the end of your friendship.
“The person who is the ghoster may be overwhelmed in their own life,” said Dr. Schaffer. “They may not have the time or energy to reach out. In that situation, it has to do more with the ghoster than the person being ghosted. On the other hand, if the person being ghosted needs a lot of time or support, it can be energy-draining. The ghoster may have decided they do not have enough energy to give to the relationship. This is a positive for the ghoster, as self-care is extremely important.”
Being ghosted is hurtful, but you might want to consider your previous interactions with your friend and be honest with yourself. Have you unknowingly offended her? Were you monopolizing conversations? Were you there to support your friend in need, or was it all about you?
“Sometimes a friend may attempt to save the relationship by avoiding conflict,” said psychotherapist Dr. QuaVaundra Perry. “You can gain insight by examining your last interaction with one another.”
If you think the friendship is worth salvaging, Dr. Perry suggests reopening the doors of communication with a text saying, “I haven’t heard from you in a while. Are we okay?”
“One of the hardest truths to face about a friend who ghosts is when he/she is just not that into you,” said Dr. Perry. “Like any relationship, it can be painful when you realize the person does not feel the same about you or when a season of friendship is changing.”
To help cope, she suggests exploring the pattern of the friendship. “Do you notice you have to initiate all contact and plan all the outings? Does it take your ‘friend’ forever to respond to your texts and calls but you notice he/she seems to have time for others? This period of ghosting allows you the time and space you need to see the relationship may not be what it appears.”
And if that’s the case, then your friend did you a huge favor by leaving you to find friends who truly appreciate all that you have to offer.
Though it’s really easy to vilify your friend for ghosting you, it’s also fair to see why they did what they did from their perspective.
According to Dr. Schaffer, ghosting isn’t always a bad thing. Your friend might feel like they don’t have the energy to communicate their feelings to you because of something else that’s going on in their life.
And, added Dr. Perry, “Ghosting can help the person avoid dealing with the discomfort of asking for and receiving help. This type of coping mechanism can frustrate a friendship because it leaves the other person wondering why they are not allowed to offer support when needed. Try to realize not everyone copes in the same way.”
Bottom line: Being ghosted is hurtful and will leave you with a ton of questions. However, if you’re able to be grateful for the memories that you did share with your friend and see that the end of your friendship was for the best, then you’ll be able to refocus your energy on being the amazing friend you are to someone new.