One minute they’re there and then they’re not…
I first heard the term "ghosting" from an American friend when she was chatting about some guy she had been dating who just vanished or ‘ghosted her. He ended the relationship by simply disappearing without any explanation, leaving her wondering where she went wrong.
In my head I was like “Umm… that’s happened to me before but there was never any snogging involved!”... Ghosting happens platonically too.
This can be some emotionally heavy shit dudes and babes - we've all experienced the shifting sands of the friendship planes and it ain't cool.
When people disappear into the ether without any reason why it’s super easy to just come up with one million things you must have done wrong… was it because you always rolled your eyes when they wouldn’t split the bill? You never returned that book you borrowed (lost) on holiday? You decided you were ready to start going to the gym on your own?
When someone disappears from our lives, and yet, seems to be having the BEST time without us according to social media that can reaaallly sting and make us wonder where we stand with that person… and that’s if we stay on the ‘friends’ list.
Let me recount one of my own Penny Dreadful stories of being ghosted which includes the ultimate modern day slight of being unfriended on Facebook *bites fist*.
“Wow, it’s you!” his DM on FB read immediately after the first bing on my phone.
“How’re you doing stranger? Everything looks like it's going great for you!” he continued in our message thread adding a panda emoji.
“Well” I thought “I guess you would have known how I was doing had you not UNFRIENDED ME LIKE 3 YEARS AGO!” I silently raged as the tingles of anger, humiliation and disbelief shuddered through me.
I’d suspected he’d digitally checked out of our friendship as, over time, I’d noticed his posts weren’t in my feed and he wasn’t tagged in our mutual friend’s pictures.
The cringey reality only became fully evident when I went to write a happy birthday message on his wall and the screen of doom popped up “Add <insert name> as a friend… you have 45 friends in common”
(I know Facebook, you snarky b@stard!)
Realising he’d unfriended me felt absolutely horrible and as I sat alone at my laptop my mind easily shot to what did I do? What pub convos had I come up in closely followed by “oh man Lucy? She does my head in!”
Although I tried to brush it off, it took me right back to feeing like that little girl at school who just wanted to be liked (ahem, she’s still alive and well!)
I went on to wonder if I was part of a mass cull or if I was handpicked to disappear, as I saw it. I’d never get a clear answer on that because to ask felt too cringey even by somewhat emotive standards.
I was in a vulnerable state and my default setting was to go to the fearful, wobbly stance of lack in the fist shaking moment of “I thought we were friends!” followed by “WHHHYYYYY!!!” to rival a Game of Thrones finale moment.
Or at least it used to until I learnt and accepted some liberating truths, which I hope by sharing, can help you lick your wounds and open your eyes to a different perspective…
- The answer to why I’d been digitally binned is/was none of my effing business because people are entitled to be connected with whoever they like. Their feed is there to tweak and curate just as mine and yours is. Not everyone will make the cut.
- Because he distanced himself from me didn’t mean I was inherently unlikeable it just meant he wasn’t clinging to connections – virtual or not – that didn’t serve him. It goes both ways – we’ve all been on the ghosting side too although perhaps we’ll manage it better next time.
- We need to be super careful about how the digital overspill into our lives can create a mirage of where we stand in our own friendship ranks to ensure we don’t instantly forget our value, our strengths, charms, big heart and the fact that you’re beautiful on the inside and out and that you’re enough. The end!
- How easy it was for all the amazing, loyal and new friendships I enjoy to be dwarfed by those that weren’t around any more. Not cool of me to obsess over who or what wasn’t there rather than appreciate and luxuriate in what was!
- Take the ghosting as an opportunity to gather your tribe – handpick those that accept you at your most ranty and your most radiant. Turn down your focus on the validation of sometimes relative strangers to equate your self worth. You have it all within you, Boo! A like or birthday FB message is no measure of your gifts or popularity. The people that care don’t matter… the people that matter don’t care so don’t go changing!
- It’s not anyone’s job to give you closure or make you feel good about yourself – to every ending dealt by someone else is a new beginning gifted to you.
The B I G G Y… know this:
"People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime"
- I heard Iyanla Vanzant say that on Oprah’s Life Class once and I nearly fell out of my chair. We’re simply not meant to embark on a never-ending recruitment of people to form an ever-expanding friendship group. Some will stay and some will go and some will reenter orbit at exactly the right time. Let it happen. Know when it’s time to stop trying – it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
It's not as simple as 'don't take it personally' as, thankfully, being ghosted is an opportunity to go deeper than that. Be active in choosing the company you keep and what they bring to your table whether it's a reason, a season or a lifetime.
And now over to you - have you drifted away from a friend and it's felt like the natural thing to do? Or perhaps you've been wounded by not having the approval of certain people over time? Are you hung up on comparing what your friendships are now compared to what they used to be? What's your best piece of advice for when things are coming to an end platonically?
I'll meet you in the comments - Love Lucy xxx