It’s been more than a year since I was ghosted by a very close friend, someone I’d been friends with for 20 years. I’m still not over it.
If you don’t know what the term “ghosted” means, neither did I until reading it in Amy Dickinson’s advice column in the Chicago Tribune. But I certainly did relate to what the letter to Dickinson described. The other person suddenly cuts off all communication. In time you figure out that the relationship is over but not why. Usually “ghosted” is applied to a romantic relationship, but it happens in friendships, too.
For quite a while I’ve been thinking of writing about how it feels to be ghosted — baffled, frustrated, hurt, angry, sad — but I didn’t want to come off as a self-pitying victim.
This post is different from what I would have written a week ago. That’s because I was reviewing entries in my journal and came across one from September 2016, two months before my friend cut off contact. I’d had the probable explanation all along.
I wrote about something that was annoying me more than it used to. At the same time, I chided myself for intolerance. I never complained, but she must have sensed how I felt.
I still think it would have been respectful of the friendship to discuss the problem. I don’t mean only that she should have offered me an explanation but also that I should have brought up the problem earlier. But do I think we could have worked things out? Probably not. Feeling annoyed has a way of growing worse, and she wasn’t likely to change.
Discarding the victim’s cloak, I recall that years ago I ghosted someone, too. I understand how difficult it is to tell someone why you don’t want to be her friend anymore. I remember asking a social worker friend how she would have handled the situation. (Social workers are supposed to have the answers to relationship problems, right?) She said she would have done the same as I — just stopped contact.
I also recall that I’ve been ghosted by other people, but the sting didn’t linger as long as my last experience because we hadn’t been as close. Being ghosted and ghosting are not unusual experiences.
As I look back over 2017, the major theme has been that friendships aren’t static. Two of my three closest friendships have changed — the one has ended, and the other has slid into infrequent get-togethers. With these two people I could discuss anything, and I miss that.
On the other side of the balance sheet, I’m grateful for a Streeterville friend who is a frequent companion; for the couple down the hall who invite me over spontaneously; and for a new friend two blocks away. I am grateful for friends who live farther away and are willing to travel to me as often as I travel to them.
One of my resolutions for the new year is to take the next step when I meet someone I like. Instead of just “Nice to meet you,” I hope to open doors by saying, “Nice to meet you. Would you like to get together for coffee or tea?”