I recently discovered something; ghosting. Well, I didn’t really discover it since I have been doing the act myself, but what was brought to my attention is that it’s not uncommon. I find that surprising for reason, but if I really think about it, I shouldn’t be surprised. People in general dislike dealing with troublesome and uncomfortable things, and will avoid or run away from those problems.
Ghosting is the act of ceasing all communication and contact without warning and it’s done in a sudden manner.
The hurt that people feel when they get ghosted by someone is valid, especially if the ghoster, the person who leaves, is someone significant, like a best friend or partner. I’ve read that people feel like they’ve been abandoned, insulted, taken for a fool, and so on. Regardless, I bet there’s also a feeling or thought of “what should I feel?” because ghosting gives no explanation or reason as to why one is leaving. With no explanation or clue as to why someone would just suddenly leave creates a lot of ambiguity and a lot of questions. Not knowing why can be awful, especially when all you really know is that you were left behind.
I’ve been ghosted once, by a best friend. She was the one who approached me for a friendship, and I naturally accepted after getting to know her, especially after seeing how well we mutually benefited from each other’s company. At the beginning of high school she moved to a different state and just suddenly ceased all communications and contact with me. I was very much concerned, and after realizing that “no response” from her was intentional I became angry and frustrated. However, after a couple of months she came around and replied. Her reason for ghosting me was because she thought I’d do it to her sooner or later, just like all her other friends. She said she knew I’d do it. At the time I thought I’d never do it and I was determined not to. I explained to her that friendships, especially ones that are challenged in distance, her on the west coast and me in the mid-west, don’t necessarily have to end. We just had to work harder, and that relationships are not perfect, but if we want it to work then we could make it work. I was able to convince her to stay in contact with me, but what I didn’t realize was how lonely I’d become. I didn’t realize how much I’d begin to feel distance in our relationship, not physically, but emotionally. I didn’t realize how hard talking about my feelings with her openly would become.
She’d often call to talk with me on the phone for hours. At first I enjoyed it because I saw this was a way for her to feel secure and safe about our long-distance-relationship. Long talks on the phone was what she needed. It, however, wasn’t what I needed, and I unconsciously knew this because I felt less satisfied about our relationship after each phone call. I would hear her talk about her new life, her new friends, and although I could talk about mine it honestly wasn’t the kind of conversation I wanted because I could not relate to her stories, and I knew she wouldn’t be able to relate to mine, so I never talked about my stories, I would just listen to hers because I wanted her to feel safe about our relationship.
However, the reality was that we were clearly traveling different paths in our lives at the time and the more we talked the more aware I became of it, and the harder I tried to deny it by always listening to her stories, and I would try to get myself involved in her life in some way, but I couldn’t. I just could not find her interests within me, and I did not want her to do what I was trying to do for us because I knew trying to hold something that was breaking together, hurt. It hurt so bad.
The memories and feelings of our good times remain within me, and will continue to be here till the day I die. But the connection that once naturally held us together is no longer here. We no longer find our biggest joys in life in the same things. We were no longer the things we need in each others lives. We’ve basically drifted apart, but at the time I could not tell her that. I didn’t want her to know that. So, for a while longer I kept on listening to her talk for hours, never talking about my own interests, and I kept trying to immerse myself in her new profound interests that clearly made her life more bearable where she was at that time. After a while, I became unhappy trying to be the person she needed me to be, but could not be. And I could not bring myself to tell her this. And I could not bring myself to ask her to be who I needed her to be because I knew she couldn’t become it, and I did not wish for her to try and fail and to feel like she had let me down. I didn’t want her to feel any of this, as I’ve felt it myself, and it hurt.
With nothing else in mind that could help her, and me, and our friendship. No matter how many different scenarios I ran through my head, no matter how much I listened to her, no matter how hard I tried to connect with her interests, I could not find a solution for us. We were clearly drifting apart, traveling different paths in our lives. I could have talked to her, I could’ve told her how I felt, and we could’ve tried to take on the problem together, but I was afraid at the time. I didn’t want her to try what I had tried because it hurt, and I didn’t want us to fail in finding a solution and arriving at the conclusion that it was the end for us. So, I ran away from it, without ever validating if that’d be the truth or not.
My love for my best friend is still here. My wishes for all the best for her is still here. She is a beautiful and kind individual. She is sassy and bold. She is as fragile as she is as mighty. She is small but big in her ways. She is unlike anyone else in this world. Wherever she goes, there will be a sense of obnoxiousness, she isn’t good at controlling it, but there’s also a huge amount of warmth and love too. I always tell her, “You are great the way you are, you don’t have to change a thing.” because I believe it’s the truth. The memories and feelings of our good times remain with me. But the connection that once naturally held us together is no longer here. And that’s a truth I never wanted to tell her personally, so I left.
I admit, ghosting is not in parallel with being considerate, but honestly, it’s not meant to be considerate. It’s inevitably going to be a little ugly. At the same time though, the intention of ghosting isn’t necessarily to harm someone. Sometimes I do wonder if maybe talking to my best friend then about how I felt would help. But the more I thought about it the clearer the answer became, and I was just putting myself into that loop all over again, and I’d run from it again, I’d run away from the answer that I knew was ugly. But then sometimes I’d accept the answer and then question if we could’ve maybe ended our relationship more respectfully, and given our flaws at the time, I think not, and I did do I want to change an ugly happening from actually happening. Ghosting her was less ugly thing.
Now I always wish that I had just let her keep me ghosted.
From there on, I promised myself not to ghost another best friend, if I ever got another…
Featured photo by Gabriel on Unsplash