Being “ghosted” is when someone unexpectedly leaves a texting conversation and never returns, as if they turned into a ghost. This action is most commonly taken in the early stages of a relationship when one of the parties involved isn’t mature enough to have an uncomfortable conversation and decides to cut their losses. However, mirroring its romantic counterpart, ghosting your friends has subtly become more and more popular over the past few years, leaving people high and dry to grapple with unforeseen aftermath. Here are a few reasons why ghosting may take place in hopes of demystifying the phenomenon and extending your understanding beyond picking up pieces of what was.1
1. Clash of Identities and Values
Friendship unraveling often stems from someone choosing their personal needs over a mutual understanding between you. Dr. Marisa G. Franco, a psychologist and professor from the University of Maryland states that there is a massive significance of having our identities affirmed and that we need to respect diverse life choices. According to Franco, failure to align values may result in the eventual dissolution of a once-sturdy friendship.2 Ghosting hurts because rather than affirming our identities, they’re being rejected in the most emotionally taxing way possible.
2. Dynamics of Ghosting
Friendships begin to fall apart when conflicts are always sidestepped or ignored. Shasta Nelson, friendship expert and author of “Frientimacy” defines conflicts as destructive to enlightening forces, stating that we need an acknowledgment and resolution to issues between our friends and an overwhelming stream of positivity in comparison to negativity for any relationship (especially friendship) to be healthy and grow. Essentially, not only do negative aspects of your friendships need to be addressed rather than ignored, but also if these negatives aren’t dwarfed by positives in the relationship dynamic (minimum 5 to 1 according to Nelson), then it is doomed to eventually fail.
Read: The Penny Method: A Bizarre New Dating Trend Thats Worse Than Ghosting
3. It Isn’t Always Meant to Be
Friendship breakups are brought with societal stigma and feelings of shame. Recognizing the natural ebb and flow of your relationships is crucial for fostering your emotional well-being, as well as the other person’s. You need to be able to accept that not every relationship is going to go the distance if you’re ever going to be able to heal from the loss you have just experienced. Nobody wants a true friendship to end and of course, we want things to stay happy and positive for as long as possible. Unfortunately, life has a way of changing people, and if you don’t both continue to change in the same ways, then your time together will have an expiration date.
4. Reconciliation Attempts After Being Ghosted:
In friendships where there have been significant contributions to one’s life, trying to have sincere conversations after someone ghosts the other is a worthwhile endeavor. Expert Smiley Poswolsky advises an outreach attempt from the heart via thoughtful messages or letters to show authenticity and the time and care required to reach out. Be sure to emphasize the transparency in your attempt to genuinely create or ask for any pathway forward towards mutual understanding – maybe even potential resolution. Poswolsky contends that such endeavors are a testament to the beauty of meaningful connections.
5. Silence vs. Authenticity in Modern Connections:
In an era dominated by digital interactions, ghosting comes across as a silent, unwelcome guest, and is treated as such. Dr. Jennice Vilhauer underscores the role of authenticity and vulnerability in fostering genuine connections. In a landscape full of differing choices, embracing genuine emotions and open communication emerges as vital for creating meaningful interactions that transcend the superficial veneer of modern connectivity.3 It is extremely easy nowadays to meet and connect with someone anywhere or anyhow in the world. But maintaining that friendship, or having enough respect for another person to have a conversation about things not being how you want them to be is a much more difficult thing to do. We don’t blame the ease of modern technology to be able to just get up and walk away, but it definitely has made doing so much easier.
The Bottom Line
Deciphering the ins and outs of ghosting, especially ghosting friends, requires a nuanced approach. Unraveling the myriad of factors contributing to this decision empowers individuals to build connections based on transparency and authenticity. As you navigate the complexities of modern relationships, embracing vulnerability and open communication remains the cornerstone for forging enduring connections that stand the test of time.4 It is hard to get back out there after getting hurt, so please make sure you take the time you need to heal from past pain.
Keep Reading: 10 Behaviors Cheaters Exhibit Without Knowing
- “What Is Ghosting?” Very Well Mind. Wendy Rose Gould. November 02, 2023
- “What to do when a close friend ghosts you, according to experts.” Business Insider. Heidi Borst. November 19, 2021.
- “Why People Ghost — and How to Get Over It.” NY Times
- “4 Reasons Why People Ghost.” Psychology Today. Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D. November 29, 2021.