When it comes to friends, the cliché that quality is better than quantity rings the most true. While it’s cool to have an entourage of people you can share special moments and have crazy adventures with, the truth is, not all friendships are meant to last through thick and thin — especially if one of them is harmful.
Developing a meaningful relationship with a friend can sometimes be as complex as a romantic one. You might have your ups and downs, but then come out stronger and more connected as ever with a real respect to your friendship. Other times, you could be so deep in best friend-dom, you may not realize that this negative human should probably not be in your life at all.
The realization that this so-called friend should be out of your life often comes as a final straw — maybe you’ve tried to ignore so much of their bad behavior in the past that it comes to a head. Maybe you’ve finally started to experience the negative attitude from this person that multiple others have warned you about. You’ll know when the time has come for these kinds of unhealthy friendships to end. Those who don’t want to have a conversation or a confrontation might choose to ghost the friendship instead. Relationships of all kinds can be messy, weird, and complicated. We’re not here to judge.
If you find yourself wanting to end a friendship, here’s how you can safely remove yourself from it by acting like Casper and ghosting away.
Why ghost? Isn’t that a mean, passive-aggressive thing to do?
In a perfect world, you’d be able to confront anyone at any time to tell them what they did to offend you. That person would apologize, immediately stop doing the offensive thing, and your friendship with them would be better than ever. In the real world, it’s not that easy. Some people just suck and these crappy personality traits can’t be fixed. They might also get offended at YOU for being upset. If you truly feel that talking to this person won’t improve the situation or that your friendship isn’t even worth saving, then why waste anybody’s time and energy?
Get your boundaries on
If you’re not ready to completely end the friendship but need to step back from the current dynamic, this is something you can do first. Remember, you’re never required to be anybody’s everything. If a friend is being too demanding without showing up for you when you need it, then set some boundaries. You should never sacrifice your comfort or get stressed out in order to “prove yourself” as a real friend. This will only cause resentment. Good friends won’t put huge unrealistic expectations on your friendship either. The trick is finding the balance by having a healthy, trusting friendship without codependence.
Next: Operation cutoff
This is when you stop reaching out to the person, stop replying to their emails, texts, calls, and comments. And when you’re ready to straight up purge this person from your digital life, the unfollow, delete, and block buttons will be ready and waiting.
What to do if they push back
More than likely, this person will push back and try to find out why you’re ignoring them. If you don’t respond, they might try manipulative tactics. Guess what? You still don’t have to respond.
What if you have mutual friends?
Just like in a romantic relationships, it’s highly common for you and your former friend to have a lot of mutuals. This can definitely be awkward if you get invited to the same events. The way to deal with this up to you. You can choose to take the high road by not divulging anything and simply tell the mutual friend that you’ve drifted apart. Heads up — chances are that if the person was negative towards you, they acted the same way with other people, too. It sucks to hear another person have the same experience, but also validating to know that you made the right decision.
Recognize toxic traits in future friendships
Getting rid of an unhealthy influence will help you to identify similar people in the future. Either you’ll know how to deal with it better the second time around (i.e., setting boundaries) or you’ll have to remove yourself from them as well. That’s the upsetting reality — you’ll most likely have to go through a friendship dump multiple times in your life.
How to deal if you feel guilty in the aftermath
It’s natural to feel guilty after ghosting someone. You are a human with feelings and compassion after all! The lowdown dirty truth is that we definitely need friendships, but not all of them. Some friends are just there for a certain time while others will stick around forever. You might even miss this person. That doesn’t necessarily mean you made a mistake. You can appreciate the good things about the person while freeing yourself from the bad things at the same time. Plus, keep in mind that any sort of change in your social life will take a minute to get used to.
Send love and light to the person and let them go. Surround yourself with good people who will lift you up and support you. Know that ghosting can be an act of self care.