For years I’ve remarked how all of life is like dating.
Friendship, job interviews, networking,
actual dating, making mom friends–they all depend on similar interactions in order to succeed.
Do more listening than talking, watch body language, engage, court, follow up, note nonverbal cues…
It’s really all the same.
This is why it should have come as no surprise what I experienced last year in the friendship world is precisely what my younger friends endure when dating.
Ghosting is a term which began in the romantic realm and is used in reference to an individual suddenly disappearing from one’s life.
Vanishing without warning.
Less Casper the friendly and more old school Bloody Mary.
Being a lover of language and of words used in novel ways (and with so many friends launching second lives) I was intrigued by the term.
I’d not anticipated, however, I’d use ghosting to refer to my own experience, but hadn’t paused to consider what Id long asserted:
If all of life is like dating then I could be friend-ghosted in the same way friends have been ghosted by romantic partners.
The details are unimportant (here’s where I clarify if you think I’m talking about you—I’m not) but the sadness and feelings of bewilderment are not.
Someone I’d thought I could rely upon and who was integrated into the fabric of my life disappeared.
Without words. Without disagreement. Without warning.
At first I approached the scenario with my usual this has nothing to do with me attitude. Yet, as months passed and I couldn’t stop contemplating what happened, I knew I needed to reframe my thoughts.
To invest time reflecting on the experience as only after that would I be able to move through it.
Don’t take it personally.
This is my typical approach to life and one at which I rock. I know I have lots more happening than appears on the surface (I’m a duck: calm at top, frantic underneath) and consciously choose to believe others are similar. We’re all out there doing the best we can.
This life attitude serves me well. It simultaneously allows me to execute self-care and offer grace to others. It has allowed me to realize/learn most times other people are not thinking about me at all. They are out there simply struggling to carry-on and be human.
Ghosting, aka deliberate vanishing, didn’t feel this way to me. I shed my ability to maintain perspective. I metaphorically pressed on the bruise of the friendship-loss repeatedly to be certain it still hurt.
Don’t be me.
What other people think of us really is none of our business.
I’m a big advocate of keeping nothing inside. I’m a talker and a communicator and can flog that poor equine to death repeatedly.
Again, don’t be me.
While for most situations I advocate CAREfrontation–when it comes to our not-so-friendly-Casper I recommend just letting go.
If someone cannot see your value – – they’re not your person.
Confrontation or demanding an explanation won’t change how the other person feels. And, should you be able to change the dynamic in the short term/drag them back, the ghosting will only happen again.
Don’t be me. Take my word on that one.
After 47 and a half years on the planet I’ve leaned I have the inimitable ability to let go and yet still remain stuck.
I told myself I’d moved on—I’d check said friend’s Instagram account and note the fabulous girls weekend she’d just returned from.
(pro-tip: as with romantic partners stalking on social is never a good idea.)
Sure, I rekindled old friendships & created new ones, but as with breaking up with a romantic-partner I still wondered what my Casper friend would have thought when I was in certain situations/experiences.
I needed to not merely give lip service to the fact I’ve moved on from our friendship: I needed to mean it.
I needed to recognize for whatever reason– one which I’d most likely never know–our dynamic changed and she chose not to tell me.
This change, however, did not negate all the memories we’d created together or what our friendship once was.
Ghosting or not, in order to move on, it was imperative I acknowledged what we’d had and make peace with the fact it no longer existed.
And you know what? In the end all of this worked.
Not only could I acknowledge all the good that had existed in our friendship, I was able to forgive and move on.
- Have you experienced ghosting of a non-romantic sort? How did you overcome it?
Bea saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 4:47 am
This happened to me last year. I never knew it had a name. I still don’t know why my friend just kind of disappeared but you are right. I need to move on and stop questioning myself
Debbi McNeer saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:18 am
I was the ghost, although I can defend my circumstances.
She called me a week or so ago, to see if enough time had passed to rekindle our friendship.
There will never be enough time.
My situation is clearly not yours. But in the end, some things are just not meant to be.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:25 am
Yes. It sounds as though there were blowouts or some sort of a disagreement in your situation? Just by the way you use the phrase therewill essentially never be enough time to rekindle
And you know me 🙂 I’m also such an advocate of self-care. If the relationship was no longer serving you – – sometimes you just need to break free.
messymimi saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:39 am
Your number one i’ve heard called “filling in the gaps with grace.” That’s what i try to do in such situations.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:41 am
Oh how I adore that phrase. I’ve never heard it. Filling in the gaps with grace.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:50 am
I recently got ghosted by someone. Someone who I had really tried to help and who had been a really good friend to during a REALLY hard time. What sucks as well is that she is having a lot of success right now. And she can’t seem to be bothered with me anymore. It feels like high school/grade school, but then again, I guess we never really grow up, do we?
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 5:53 am
I don’t think we ever really do – – but that has been the silverlining here.
And a cleansed 🙂 age-appropriate way I shared the story with the 11-year-old. Mainly because I wanted her to know friendship wonkiness doesn’t end when you’re a big person. And it’s absolutely nothing personal.
Bodynsoil saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 6:22 am
I didn’t know this term before now but have definitely experienced this myself. People who have been in my day to day life, then I never hear from again. As the bullied child from school, I always question myself and search interaction memories to see what I did wrong. I’ve been ghosted like you mention, the ones where I drop everything for when they are in need; when you need them, they don’t have time due to being in the middle of a movie.
As for me, whenever I drop off the face of the earth it typically is something I’m dealing with the way I did as a child, alone.
Lisa saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 8:45 am
I so relate to what you are saying. I justify the ghosting by telling myself it has made me a stronger person, and it has. Sometimes, though, it makes me sad. Hearing that I am not the only one (which I felt like for the longest time) is a nice relief 🙂
Nettie saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 6:46 am
I am an introvert and wonder if people even realize how much of what I am. I now wonder if I’ve ghosted people because I needed to take care of me
JavaChick saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:12 am
I had the same thought, Nettie. I am an introvert, and shy to boot. I have a lot of social anxiety. When I dealing with something I tend to withdraw – and I don’t tend to be out there in the middle of things as it is. People probably think that I’m not interested, when that’s not true at all.
Anja saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Nettie, I was just wondering the same. But there is that “without warning” thing, and I would like to assume that real friends of mine kind of understand my coping mechanisms … If they don’t …it’s probably time to accept the gap (not only for us buy for them also).
Susan saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:30 am
Being “ghosted” has happened to all of us I think. You don’t say how long you were friends with this person. I was friends with some one since 1993 and she became my best friend then about 4 years back now we broke up completely! At first I was so hurt, so so angry, in tears even! We grew apart I think/know is what happened until one day we just weren’t in each others life any more. We did not have a disagreement per say but something happened in her life ( a breast cancer scare) and she knew I was worried about her and she did not let me know the outcome of her biopsy, which was negative thankfully. When that happened I knew I did not matter to her/ or how I felt didn’t matter to her any more. We did not communicate at all for three years the silence was deafening and I missed her but I was over it no one treats me like that! Can you come back from something like being ghosted? I don’t know maybe but the “friendship” won’t be at the level it was before because you have to guard your heart. Once in a while I hear from her on Facebook but I keep my expectations really LOW and know it is very casual/tentative and their is not going back to what it once was.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:45 am
Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I thought a lot about if 1 can come back from being ghosted. My thought is as with any relationship: sure. If there’s communication and reason… I really do believe I could get over my surprise/ bewilderment.
That may have to do with the longevity of the relationship. It was long but not lifelong.
And I do not in anyway feel she let me down – – she just disappeared. Something you describe? I don’t know if I could get past that. It would take a lot of work.
Leanne | crestingthehill saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:41 am
It’s weird because I wrote a post a while back on how I actually ghosted a friend (http://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2015/10/have-you-ever-ghosted-someone.html) She showed a complete lack of loyalty and integrity and I didn’t feel like confrontation would solve anything, so I quietly slipped away. I’m not even sure if she noticed or not – it was the least painful way to end things and I have no regrets. I think ghosting has its place in friendships – far less painful than a break-up……but it does leave a sense of not having closure. Sorry it happened to you Carla but maybe it’s part of 21st century friendships.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 7:43 am
Oh that is such a fascinating perspective and I hadn’t seen that post
And you make a really good point. In no way did the relationship feel wonky or toxic to me but I definitely had no perspective because I was a participant in the relationship 🙂
Really good food for thought.
Dick Carlson saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 8:09 am
It’s awful when someone does that.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 8:37 am
It sure hurts when that happens. One of my friends put it this way: sometimes a friendship runs its course. Isn’t that the truth? It’s hard but sometimes, that ‘s all it is.
Shari Broder saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 9:21 am
Great piece. This happened to me a few years ago, and I approached it the way you did. But it also got me thinking about someone I didn’t want to be friends with anymore. She kept contacting me to get together, and I kept making excuses because the more I got to know her, the less I liked her. She became creepy. So was my approach any better than ghosting? Is there a nice way to tell someone you don’t want to be friends anymore?
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm
You and I talked about this privately – – but I wanted to share here that I don’t know.
I am woman enough to admit there is a chance this woman thought: could gosh Carla and I have nothing in common any longer how one earth do I distance myself from the friendship?
And when she didn’t have an answer for that she just vanished because she had no other ideas.
Kate saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 9:31 am
I’ve been on both sides of the ghosting thing.
One reason is that I really (despite my strong opinions) don’t do confrontation when it can be avoided. ESPECIALLY in person.
Susie’s experience struck a nerve with me, because I know it’s the kind of thing the person I ghosted is probably saying. I had a friend who helped me through a tough time, and during that time did everything to belittle me and accuse me of the most bizarre stuff… and I took it because I really wanted to preserve the friendship. I don’t know how many times I used those words with her “PRESERVE THE FRIENDSHIP” until I couldn’t take it anymore. I left, and she cut me off totally. Then, about a week later, she showed up on my social media ‘anonymously’ trolling and harassing me, and I just blocked her IP address, changed FB pages, and moved my blog to WordPress where I could block her there. Yeah, I’m invisible to her (mostly) and yeah, she continues to stalk on areas I can’t block (I get notifications when she’s looked in on my LinkedIn) The thing is, I think this woman is just crazy enough to genuinely feel the victim in all this.
BTW, I understand this is NOT Susie’s situation at all! The comment just opened a recent wound for me.
On the other hand, there have been times I’ve “ghosted” a really great friendship, and those are things that kinda slipped away from me without noticing. I had a terrific friend in FL who I simply fell out of touch with, conversations fewer and fewer until they just kinda disappeared, but there’s also a friend I WANT to keep touch with, but our schedules don’t mesh, and I’ll call him and he’ll be busy (he’s a doctor, so yeah, he’s BUSY) and I’ll forget to call him on the day we agreed on… and I really haven’t talked to him in months. It’s kinda mutual ghosting I guess…
But yeah, it happens.
Elle saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 9:42 am
I have always thought that people come and go from our lives as a natural course of friendship. Sometimes it hurts a bit, but just as often it is me who is doing the ghosting. I had never thought of it in that term before.
Beth (GrannyBeth3) saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 10:00 am
Friends can be like high school dates- There is the Wednesday acquaintance- whom you see middle of the week when you have nothing better to do. There’s the Friday night- lot’s of fun but you don’t share personal details about your life. There is the Saturday night friend with whom you have everything in common and would see/talk to as often as possible and reserve special dates for. The Sunday day friend with whom you share intimate details, but isn’t a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Wednesday acquaintances are often lopsided relationships- they are the ones that ghost away from me and I ghost from them. We just weren’t that close to begin with- but one of us didn’t know it.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:29 pm
In the end that’s probably the answer here. It’s hard as it is to think about friendship probably took higher priority with me than it did with her. In the reverse is probably true in the sense – – she may not have realized how much priority I put on the relationship either.
Rena McDaniel saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 10:22 am
I think I would probably be considered a “ghost-er”. I am horrible for just disappearing. I am so introverted and full of social anxiety that I tend to burrow deep into my hole for extended periods of time. It’s almost always about me and never about them.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm
I don’t know why I read your comment and think: Your friends get it.
Perhaps it’s because I would definitely have cut my friend a swath of slack 🙂 had she been introverted or if she struggles with social anxiety etc. We’ve been friends for maybe six or seven years and I knew that not to be the case.
And even with all of this there’s really no hurt or anger – – bewildered really is the perfect word.
Laura saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 10:40 am
So interesting… I’ve never heard that term before and I don’t think I’ve experienced it but I’m sure it will come at some point. As always, great food for thought!
Michelle @ Running with Attitude saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 11:18 am
I didn’t know there was a term for it. I have definitely experienced it with someone who was at one point my BFF. Looking back now I can see that we were truly growing apart and eventually I guess she just had no room in her life for me. I vacillated between hurt and anger for a long time, but was finally able to let it go. Ironically, she’s recently reached out to me. Still weighing what I’ll do….
Sharon @ Mommy Runs It saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 11:22 am
I got “ghosted” last year by someone who’d been a good friend for a number of years. I even jokingly used the term “ghosting” when I asked her where she’d been – before I realized that it was actually happening to me. Like you, I still periodically press the bruise to see if it still hurts. And even though it’s been months, it still does. Thank you for this post. Both it & the comments are good medicine for my heart.
Tara saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 11:25 am
I don’t comment much but I love your blog because it reminds me and let me know I’m not alone
TriGirl saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:13 pm
YES. I was devastated. I started with “Oh she just has a lot going on with x,y,z. I will be a grown up and not take it personally.” I eventually asked, trying to be open and adult, and got a wishy-washy response. Then she finally invited me out and after I accepted mentioned she had invited a mutual acquaintance. It was clear when we went out that said mutual acquaintance was x,y,z.
It took years for me to get over it, especially because I had to still see them both every day.
Carla saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm
I do think then it would’ve been far harder to resist some sort of confrontation. This was a friend where we had once been local but are now long distance. So while we were in touch every few days at a minimum – – it wasn’t someone I would encounter at the grocery store for example.
TriGirl saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm
Yes seeing them 5 days a week for hours at a time did make it more difficult. I was hurt and angry a lot of the time, which wasn’t healthy. I’m much better now 🙂
Jody - Fit at 59 saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm
A really great post Carla!! I am all about the first one! That is me.. I am one that when life gets really tough, I withdraw. I know it about myself & acknowledge it. I typically just don’t want to have to say again to someone, I screwed up again or things suck again… a bad habit but I know I do it.
being that I know me, when it happens to me, I get it & try to move on… yup, it can hurt but I know that for me & many, running away is sometimes & many times my go to action.
Glenda saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 2:07 pm
I had never heard of ghosting until now. Thanks for the education. Have I experienced ghosting. Yes, of course. I think everyone has at some point. However, I don’t take it personal. I just figured the person has better things to do. On the other hand, I have been the ghost on many occasions. I simply get caught up in my own journey and stop communicating. Perhaps this is why when it happens to me, I figure the person has other things happening.
cheryl saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 3:58 pm
I’m the one who is the ghost…
if the friendship is too much work (it’s gotta be a two way attempt at least) then I am done.
Carla saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 1:11 pm
And your comment plus a couple other comments off-line friends made to me yesterday did spark me to reflect on whether I have ghosted people before.
Not deliberately. And in a sense not even consciously. I just knew when we spent time together they sucked me dry… So I begin to avoid that time spent together.
cherylann saysFebruary 24, 2017 at 9:25 am
What you had in common with someone in high school/college is just a “history” which really doesn’t carry one very far in a friendship. People grow and change…life is way to short to even think about this. Let it go and make new friends.
Deborah saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm
I’m the sort of person who has a few very close friends and then a heap of people I vaguely stay in contact with via Facebook or see irregularly so haven’t experienced the ghosting thing much.
I do note however that my friends often disappear for a time and am accustomed to that. They all usually have partners and families so have other priorities and do a lot of other stuff, so I might not hear from them for a while.
For eg, I’ve not heard from two of my long term besties for a month or two. I’ve sent a couple of emails which have gone unanswered. However… I know when they eventually email they’ll talk about how busy they’ve been with the kids and commitments etc… so I guess I’m kinda used to that.
Valerie saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 8:49 pm
Oh you know this happened to me. The person I genuinely thought of as the best friend I would ever have – far closer to me than a sister – is my ghost. And I say “is” because although it’s been several years and I am finally in a place where I can think of her without massive grief, I don’t think I can say I’ve truly moved on. It still hurts. I know her reasons or I believe I do, and I can’t judge her for them, but it took a long long time to trust anyone the way I did her.
Coco saysFebruary 22, 2017 at 8:57 pm
I’m stuck on the Pac-Manesque ghost. I have experienced mutual drifting but not ghosting.
Carla saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm
I attempted to draw the ghost a bunch of times and, when I couldn’t mail it, handed the child a white sheet of paper and a black sharpie 🙂
You do spark me to wonder if my friend didn’t see this as mutual drifting…
S from India saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 4:40 am
I have a variety of experiences.
One is that I got ghosted recently. December 2016 as a matter of fact was when I confronted the ghost. Apparently nothing was wrong. She just lost interest in the whole thing. But I gave my laughter, my tears, my deepest darkest secrets and my trust and love to keep it going. Unashamedly, I was the more loving one. I have decided to move on and I feel like sharing articles and words and things (I think of her, my intellectual soulmate) but I realize I have been ghosted. I sit here with my knowledge. Wiser and poorer.
The other episode is from a few years back which has now made me who i am. This friend suddenly turned toxic and malicious and bitter and i had no clue why. Finally she ended up betraying my trust to the extent that I would have fallen prey to tax fraud. I put an end to the friendship. But, having done that and gotten over it after 3 years (after a bout of depression, anxiety and tears), I feel that I do not give new friendships a chance to develop. At the first instance of misconduct or disagreement, I distance myself because I cannot bring myself to jump through the hoops again. It has changed who I am and made me a pale ghost myself.
Beyond all this, the most hurtful thing is that I have been ghosted by my own parents. Thank you for sharing your experience Carla. It gives me some solace that i am not alone.
Marcia saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 5:52 am
I’ve experienced ghosting and it was by two women at the same time. Because it was so eerily sudden and by both, the “orchestration” of it bothered me. It came at a time when they were both new mothers and I was infertile and childless, so that was a huge thing we did not have in common. That’s how I rationalized it and let them slip away.
Tina saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 10:05 am
I experienced this in the last year, and what complicated it for me was that this person was also a spiritual mentor to me, and someone who had opened me up spiritually in ways I never thought possible, changed my whole world. But after 2 years of close friendship and spiritual connection, I noticed that she had very particular views on other spiritual “seekers.” She felt that there were very few people who were “truly spiritual,” and the rest were just hangers on, people afraid to confront their real issues and instead looking for a panacea in spiritual pursuits, and easy answer.
So when I was going through some massive changes in my marriage — basically confronting some things about my relationship with my husband that I had been hesitating on before I had opened up and connected with myself spiritually — she basically decided that in staying in the marriage I was ALSO hiding, denying my full spiritual self. And that was that. I was suddenly one of those that had great potential, but had fallen short. We still speak, but it is completely different than it was, and (honestly) not fulfilling anymore. We have another spiritual friend in common who has told me that the same thing happened to him — he fell off the pedestal, and now, he’s on the outside for her. Many others have been on the same road. I am trying to see this as just another step on my spiritual path. She taught me to connect with Spirit, and Spirit is about being open and to connect — not to exclude. So if she can’t live her own lesson, that’s her loss. I suppose I learned more than she thought.
Dawn saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 10:08 am
What I know to be true is I’ve ghosted others (blogging for one) and I’ve been ghosted and neither feel good to me. When I’ve ghosted, I come back to the thought of that person(s) and it makes me feel sad for what once was and that it isn’t any longer and though I have tried getting it back at times it just hasn’t worked so I had no choice but to move on.
Then I’ve been ghosted and again it feels bad 🙁 and I’ve done my best to handle it well and move on. Some things in our lives are meant to last and some aren’t. It doesn’t mean at some point maybe they can’t return somewhat but we do have to be ok with whatever way it goes. Thanks for writing this because it made me think of who ghosted me and then also made me realize how I’ve ghosted others as well 🙁 Sigh.
With all that said, I’m glad to be back on your email list and reading your words. I’ve always valued them greatly 🙂 and thought you were a TERRIFIC person 🙂 Hugs. Dawn
emmaclaire saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 10:46 am
I don’t think I’ve ghosted anybody – although I did actually break up with a friend many years ago. We had much in common after mutual bad relationships ended, but I found I was ready to move on while she was still stuck in the “poor me” phase a year later. It was awkward, but I felt better for explaining and making a clean break of it.
I was, however, ghosted by my BFF shortly after she was in my wedding 25 years ago. We had lived together and experienced some tension when she started dating a guy who treated her pretty badly, in my opinion. I went to her wedding (to that guy, and they’re still married…) and she was one of my bridesmaids, then nothing. At all. Oddly, she sent me a facebook friend request about 3 years ago. I accepted and sent several messages, nothing. Again. Did I practice your #3? No. I contacted her recently to get her address to send her an invitation to my upcoming 25th anniversary shindig. I told myself that I didn’t want her to see pictures from the party and feel hurt she wasn’t invited, but I suspect it’s just one more pressing on the bruise for me. Invitations went out yesterday, and we’ll see what happens. I will likely be referring to your steps of recovery again soon…
Carla saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm
Or is your inviting her just a reflection of who you are? Reading your story made me think about how I admonish the child constantly to treat others the way she would want to be treated.
In a sense that’s what you did since you would not want to see the photos online and know you had not even been invited.
emmaclaire saysFebruary 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm
That is an interesting observation, Carla! It IS who I am, but it is also difficult to separate that from all the other angsty feelings. I am trying to look at it from the perspective of intent – I intend the invitation to be a welcoming thing, not a pouty “where have you been?” thing, so hopefully it will be taken that way. Thanks for helping me think about it 🙂
Heidi saysFebruary 25, 2017 at 8:34 pm
I had never heard of this phrase, but what an accurate description! I have experienced this…great tips for moving past this experience.
mark Leo saysFebruary 27, 2017 at 1:19 am
thanks for sharing