I got ghosted…not by some guy from Tinder but by my supposed BFF. Initially I thought it was a joke…but nope. Deleted and gone from all social media and likely blocked on all including iMessage. I actually didn’t try to message. I’ve seen her do this before. I’ve witnessed her ghost countless online dating potentials and several people she considered “close” friends. I also had voiced my opinion on it, which is why it is surprising (or maybe not) that she did the same to me. Granted we hadn’t been getting along great in the previous few weeks and there was some “strain” in our friendship as she put it; but we had been friends for years and BFF’s for at least 2 of them so this stung. On reflection, there were some serious flaws in the friendship and some less than constructive behaviours so clearly things had to change, but I didn’t see the ghost coming. I guess that’s the point. I pondered the act of ghosting what does it say about our friendship and the issues therein? What does it say about coping styles or styles of communication and/or avoidance?
I asked another girlfriend, if she had experienced ghosting before. She had. In this case it was some guy. A guy who was in hot pursuit and then when asked to put money where mouth is and actually go do something (they did not meet online but rather in person), poof! Like the wind. She said to me, “how is it possible that this guy can hurt me more by not saying anything than if he just texted ‘I’m not interested’ or ‘I’m seeing someone else’ or ‘I’m clearly an immature prat so I’m actually doing you a favor’?”
I consulted Google to demystify this phenomenon and let me tell you there are thousands of articles, blog posts, discussions, rants on this topic. Starting with a definition, I went to Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ghosting):
The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.
Many of the online articles state that this is not a new phenomenon, in fact, I remember waiting by my corded, see through, touch tone phone for my latest crush to call me and was convinced that he must have tried calling when I was out or in the shower or when my brother was on the phone talking to his girlfriend. However, with today’s ease of communication and prevalence of social media it is just more in your face. Either you are able to “stalk” your ghost on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. and see all the fun they are having with everyone but you. Or you will notice that you have been deleted and blocked and it is very clear that you are now out.
There are articles that support both sides of this debate. In general, many find that pulling a ghosting act is not necessarily morally wrong if this has been an exclusively text or online based “relationship” or even after one or two dates in person. However, it is inexcusable when in an exclusive relationship or in this case, BFFship. An article in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much) speaks to why people ghost, which is generally an avoidant behaviour to avoid hurting someone, uncomfortable and difficult conversations and simply making it easier for themselves. But it leaves the ghostee with a non-resolution and it can take much longer for the ghostee to achieve any type of closure and move on.
So where does this all leave me? All the information I read was not news to me. None of it makes me feel any better about not only being dumped by my former BFF, but also not being deserving of an attempt at remedying the issues in the friendship through discussion or at the very least an explanation or a good-bye; however, one thing I do know is that I’m not entitled to anything. Perhaps this was the best move for her. What I have noticed is that I have less negativity in my life. And I have learned to appreciate and be grateful for my positive friends, those that are caring and loving and remain in my life. I also think I’m still hurt and sad and since we live in the same community, I often wonder when and where we will run into each other…it’s really not an if. How will I react? Do I acknowledge her? Since I’m not a ghostbuster and definitely not taking that on, do I just move on, no longer haunted by the ghosts from the past?