notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Ghosted

I just spent all day writing a long piece on the end of a friendship.

I decided not to post it.

Because I realize that after 1500 words, what I wanted to say wasn’t there.

Here is a short version.

A year ago, a friend ghosted me.

She broke dates, stopped calling, stopped returning my calls. I blamed it on the Pandemic.

We were not soulmates. But I don’t believe much in soulmates anyway. I know from decades of family, friendships, and marriage, that even those closest to you don’t always understand you. And that dear friends can get on your nerves as easily (if not easier) than strangers.

But I also believe that you don’t need to be soulmates to be friends. That sometimes friendship is a matter of proximity and convenience – and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Just think back to childhood when your best buddies were the kids who lived on your block. You played with them because they were THERE. And not only was that okay, it was probably good for you. You learned to appreciate people because you needed a friend, and they were right there, ready to accept you too.

I appreciated this friend’s accessibility. We had some things in common and some things not in common. But she was there.

I am also confused and hurt.

Because she “ghosted” me.

One day, I went to her Facebook page, and all her posts had disappeared. She had not “unfriended” me. But there were no posts to see except her cover photo.

It took me another month to realize that she hadn’t deleted her Facebook posts. She had excluded me. With Facebook, you can “unfriend” someone, and you can “block” them (which is worse). But you can also “restrict” them. You don’t have to unfriend them. You can just exclude them from seeing anything you post. That’s what my friend did.

After writing all day about what I may have done wrong or what she may have done wrong, I realize that it doesn’t matter.

Because what I keep thinking about – all these months later – is how sad it is to be excluded.

Ghosting is a cowardly thing. The ghosters never explain why. They just disappear.

I am 70 years old. I have learned over these many years that not everyone will like me. I want to be liked. I sometimes crave approval. But I also know that it won’t kill me if I don’t get it.

I want to grow. I strive to become a better person, no matter how old I am. But I also have come to like myself as I am. It’s no small accomplishment.

Ghosting haunts me, though. (I like the word “haunts” with “ghosting,” by the way. It’s perfect.)

I keep thinking about teenagers. People who aren’t 70. Who don’t love themselves yet.

If ghosting hurts me, when I am in that stage of my life when I have achieved some level of self-assurance and self-love, how does it hurt those young people who are so filled with self-doubt? I think about this because I know that ghosting is a common tactic for young people.

My audience is not young people. I have no way of reaching out to them. I want to reassure them that exclusion is survivable.

I can perhaps reach a few of their parents. I need to tell them this about ghosting:

It’s awful. Exclusion is awful.

Don’t minimize it to your kids. Don’t tell them it’s nothing. Don’t say it doesn’t matter. It’s silent bullying and it hurts.

Maybe you can tell them this: That you know an old lady who got ghosted and she says it sucks. You can’t fix it, but you can acknowledge it.

Someone asked me if I ghosted my ghoster back. I did not. I refuse to use that weapon.

Please parents:

Start young. Make sure your little ones send Valentine cards to everyone. Make sure they bring enough cupcakes on their birthday. Make sure they invite the lonely kid to sit with them at lunch.

For a whole year now, I have felt like everyone got a Valentine’s card but me.

Me. Surviving.

43 Comments

  1. Very interesting read. I am nearing my late 60s and I was ghosted, too, not too long ago. This was a physically distanced friend, but we were close. It also happened with someone that at one time I considered my best friend. I can blame neither on the pandemic as they happened before Covid. It is a terrible way to avoid dialogue – dialogue that most likely would have sorted out the wrinkles of a longstanding friendship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. It is sad and rather dishonest.

      Like

  2. I loved this post and can identify with it. I’m in my early 60s and going through this with a person who was a long time friend. it’s uncomfortable, unfair, and unkind. I have decided not to reach out anymore and if we cross paths, be nice, but not give anymore of myself for no return. it hurts at all ages and I work to teach the kinder in my class this lesson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not everyone will be your friend, but they don’t have to be your enemy either. I’m happy that you are teaching children that they can share the same space with civility.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It occurs to me that politics may play a part. I’ve restricted some acquaintances who I felt were posting unkind things based on politics. It may be that some have done the same to me. That’s sad, but I felt I couldn’t take in negative and unnecessary information, so it was a self preservation action on my part. I can’t regret it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand this. I lost one old friend due to political spite. I can tolerate a lot of political difference, but this was just hateful. In the case I am writing about though, we are of like mind politically. It has been beyond my comprehension.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sdprairie

        It is sad. I think most of us have had this happen to us. Being ghosted or unfriended can make us doubt our worthiness as a friend. Why don’t they like us any more. It often seems that we never find out. However, it does make me resolve to reach out to other friends more often. We all change as we get older. Maybe this person has personal problems and has cut herself from other, too. No use blaming yourself for anything. It may just be the old friend who has a problem.

        Like

  4. People who ghost people thinkpeople are mind readers and piss me off

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dragon

    Sort of uncomfortable question, are you sure they’re still with us? I have a friend I just lost and I had to do an online search to find out because we were only ever AIM/email correspondents and his family wouldn’t know to contact those of us who emailed. Probably not, but at our age, it’s something I check. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} Whatever the reason, I’m sorry it happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She’s still around. But you are right. Sometimes you just don’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ellen

    I thought I was the only one who still wrestled with the hurt and questions…even though years have passed.
    Your essay was comforting and much appreciated.
    E.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As someone who experienced a lot of being a B-Lister friend, I kinda understand this post. Glad that you survive

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MaryG

    Someone I once considered to be a good friend suddenly went cold on me. It took quite a few attempts of trying to return to the old footing, until eventually I just plain asked what was wrong. She said the friendship had just run its course. That stung like hell, but it was honest and I just had to accept it. Her loss! There are lots of lovely people out there just waiting for us to turn up!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is good that at least you got an answer. And sometimes we do outgrow our friendships.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It could be a career/family related thing. Old posts/pictures can impact work. Many are deleting or limiting information/access now because people are so sensitive or misinterpret or can’t take a joke, so people scrub social media.
    In any case it’s not important. You’ve got other things to do, places to go and fun to have.

    Like

    • I get that. I have a friend who has deleted some old posts because she is afraid they will negatively impact her career, since she works for a very conservative organization. But to restrict someone on Facebook, you have to select them personally to exclude. That stings.

      Like

  10. A couple of years ago a woman and I worked together on a campaign for our Congressional Representative. We canvased together several times, and agreed we didn’t really like canvasing (at all) but we were glad we met each other. We met again after the campaign (our candidate won!!) and walked around the mall on a cold winter morning. We said we’d do it again. I texted her with some information she wanted about a local road race we might run (walk) together. Got no reply back. Got no reply back on any of the texts I sent. Apparently I was ghosted before I knew what that was! I was sad, because I really liked her and I have no idea what happened.

    THEN along came 2020, with it’s political rifes and then Jan 6 of 2021 and I casually commented on a friend’s FB post that I was sad that my conservative friends weren’t denouncing the storming of the Capitol, and a long time friend blasted me, siting the summer unrest and BLM and other things she felt were worse. And I said I guessed I’d just be quiet…and she unfriended me, and worse, mailed back a painting I’d done for her because it “now made her sad.”

    And another friend of more than 40 years unfriended me, called me all sorts of names publically and said I’d be sorry when our country belonged to China. I was in shock.

    Your piece today helped me through all that. I like being liked too. I generally am liked. I for the most part never talk about politics and stay pretty near the middle of the road. I have friends on both sides of the aisle and I know it. But now I know those last two friends were bullying me…and though I’m still sad, I’m glad to be rid of them. I don’t tolerate bullys when they are picking on someone else, I don’t have to tolerate or even spend any more time thinking about them when they’re picking on me. And the first woman, who just disappeared? Well…that wasn’t being a bully, but maybe she had some underlying issue that I didn’t know about. Not my problem.

    Moving on.

    Thank you.

    Like

  11. Karen

    Ghosting by family (in-laws) is the worst. The only avenue to seeing my grandchildren, gone. Never any discussion or dialog. Happened years ago and it still hurts. 😪

    Like

    • Of course that hurts…those are your grandchildren!!! I’m so sorry.

      Like

    • sdprairie

      That’s worse than ghosting! You have a right to see your grandchildren. Those in-laws are mean and vindictive. I feel sorry for you and your grandchildren. You have all been deprived. If the kids are grown, can you reach out to them now and tell them that you wanted to be in their lives but wasn’t given any opportunity.

      Like

  12. diane white

    I do not FB and glad I do not. But if I did, and this happened, I would go and knock on the door and do a face to face.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had a friend that suddenly stopped talking to me and after a few days I walked over to her house (she was a neighbor) and asked her what the problem was. She replied that she thought I a getting sick of her (???). When I assured her that I wasn’t and valued her friendship she was fine. A few months later she stopped talking to me again.. This time I let it go and that was that! I realized that she was a high maintenance friend and always needed to be reassured that I was her friend. I decided that was too toxic of a friendship, especially as I had young children and couldn’t be available to coddle her 24/7. Never missed her and still to this day! Some friendships are not worth the trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No matter what your age or how self assured you are, it hurts.

    I know it is not very helpful, but it is a reflection of them and not you. You need to understand it is not anything you said or did – it can’t be or they would discuss it with you. It is a reflection of the ghoster’s fear, insecurity, lack of self-worth or envy. Their pain is not your problem.

    An intelligent, successful person like yourself can be friends with anyone they choose to. Seriously…who wouldn’t love and adore you?! Go make a couple other friends and let it go.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Don’t know if it counts as being ‘ghosted’ but I have been excluded. It was terrible when Mum died, but what was worse was being excluded from everything, to the extent that the arrangements were all put on FB, which I am not, and my sister knew that. She didn’t want me there, but I rang her to ask, and she told me it had probably gone into my junk file on my phone. My phone doesn’t have one, never has. Sis and I are more distant than ever, and that is fine by me. It’s her loss, same as it is your friend’s loss to have done this to you Nancy.

    Like

  16. Exclusion and rejection always hurts, but you’re right that it hurts even more when you’re young and still have issues with self worth. Personally, I think “ghosting” is completely cowardly. It’s okay to back off a friendship that is no longer working, but you do it gradually, and if necessary, you even talk about it with the person. You stay friendly, you just don’t spend as much time together. Or at least that’s what I do in that situation. And the fact is, sometimes we can drift apart from a friendship for a few years and then come back together again at a different phase of life. Which is one reasons why I don’t believe in burning bridges in relationships. The other reason is I believe it is never okay to deliberately hurt someone, and that’s exactly what ghosting does!

    Like

  17. Life catches each of us unawares. Not to worry at all. Please stay blessed. To my mind, the truest ones who really matter stay with us when everything and everyone move away and only those we need to cherish and treasure.

    Like

  18. m2muse

    The issue of friendships has been fodder for thought over the years, maybe more so in retirement and during the social distancing of this pandemic. I was surprised at how easily work friendships slipped away. Like you said, sometimes friendship is a matter of proximity and convenience. There is a group of coworkers that will forever be in my thoughts because I shared some very formative years with them while we were all raising our families. Just when I think it’s over, I come across someone from those times and we pick up right where we left off. So it’s not over, it’s evolved. During the pandemic, in spite of the many ways to communicate (phone, text, email), I ponder the lack of communication initiated by friends that I used to have lunch, shopping and card dates with. Like you, I have learned over these many years that as much as I want to be liked, not everyone will like me. And like you, I’ve done enough personal growth work (no small accomplishment as well) to know it’s unlikely because of my shortcomings. Maybe I need to appreciate that I need to be my own best friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You taught me something I didn’t know could be done on Facebook. But beyond that, you have confirmed something I am presently feeling…and that is the hypocrisy of someone who has not ghosted me, but who pretends to care. I don’t know which is worse…but I am getting on in age too and I just can’t take the time to care about such behaviour. A very thought provoking piece and I thank you for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ray G

    The first thing that popped into my head was: I hope I do not know who that person is. Because I know you.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Nancy, I’m not sure I agree with your comment, “My audience is not young people. I have no way of reaching out to them.” You wrote a novel (Sisters, Secrets And The Junior Prom) that would have reached exactly that audience. That being said, the first thing I would do after realizing that I have been “ghosted” but not unfriended, is to unfriend them. I wouldn’t give them the priviledge of have easy access to your posts after being so cruel. Like a lot of people above I found out a lot about people over the last election cycle. People I thought I knew, looked up to, admired. They weren’t who I thought they were. It hurt me to unfriend them probably more than it hurt them but I didn’t want to know these things about them. Each comment or post they made was like being whipped for my choices in friends. It makes me sad. I can handle an intelligent debate or difference of opinion but whe you get to the point when you ask if you can just agree to disagree and they still attack…well, it’s done. Let them go. You don’t really need people in your life that make you feel bad or hurt. We do try to teach the young people that. We need to learn it too.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Felicity

    Dear Nancy
    Ghosting and exclusion is cruel and it hurts.
    I have been a victim of it and my goodness, how it stings.
    Thank you for writing about it, although I’m really sorry you have experienced it.
    You are one person I would gratefully have IN my life.
    This person is missing out big time.
    Thank you for your insightful posts and your wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aprild66

      I agree you would be welcome in my life you are a very kind and sweet lady, and it’s her loss Nancy )

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I know how you feel, having experienced a similar thing myself, and I’m sorry that happened to you. I think social media has given people that choose to an additional way to be mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Nancy, I am so sorry. There is no worse feeling than being ghosted by a friend. While this perfect term is newer, the behavior has been in my life for three decades. I have been ghosted by many light-level friends, and one life-long friend. It happened in my teens, in my 20’s, and in my 30’s. I think such a careless disregard for the thoughts and feelings of others, says much about the character of those so-called “friends.” Unfortunately, I know this doesn’t make it hurt any less. It is a horrible feeling. You are not alone. As you asked, and I entirely agree, I have raised my now-adult daughter to always afford grace and understanding to friends who have irritated her, and am raising my young son to be a caring and respectful man. Kindness is so important, wish me luck! 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  25. aprild66

    I can understand how that hurt you. people can be so hurtful and sometimes it seems like the ones that hurt us the most are our family and friends. I agree with you ‘ghosting’ is just like bullying. Now a day bullying I feel is a lot worse due to facebook and other internet sites because you have no idea who is really doing it. I can be all over facebook and the only one not seeing it is you. This happened to me a while back due to some jealousy issues and very false rumors. I had no idea until my daughter seen them. I am in my 50’s and it made me feel like i was in middle school again. This can hurt very bad and it did for a minute even thouh i new it wasnt me it was the ‘green eyed Monster’. I learned this a lon time ago, you have to believe in yourself and love yourself before anyone else will and its not what people say is what matters its how we react to the immature false rumors and bullying. I have dealt with depression all my life and due to that people treated me different and were mean in school. We can’t control what people say but we can control how we react to bullying and ignorant people that obviously don’t like themselves or they wouldn’t be so mean. I pray someday they can find a better way to control online bullying because if it hurts a older person i can only imagine what a teenager would feel. My advice to teens and bullying is never let anyone know how bad it really hurts cause it will blow over if you don’t feed into these rumors and if it hurts really bad go to a counselor or a trusted adult because the absolute worse thing is to isolate yourself and hold these feelings in, it will cause you more problems physically and mentally down the road and you are worth more than that. Don’t let these rumors and bullying ruin what could be a very happy life.

    Like

  26. wb2bwu

    From another 70 year old, I believe you’re better off with this kind of ‘friend’ . I hope and pray that you find comfort and solace in your own decency and kindness.

    Like

  27. wb2bwu

    I meant without this kind of friend. I guess that’s why I get ‘ghosted’, my bad typing…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. experimentquiltsite

    With 12,000+ followers, one might think that ghosting is something that would not impact you. I know that is not true. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thank you for writing this Nancy. I’m a young person and this has reached me. Your words are effective. Thank you for sharing about ghosting. I will remember it.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. beaulagh

    I had a similar thing, A very dear (or so I thought) old friend since our teens, did exactly that to me. We shared so much in our lives, she was my Bridesmaid and then Godmother to my only child, but suddenly everything changed without any warning, she walked out of mine and another chum’s (from the same period) lives. I text and messaged and all I got back was a bland excuse that made her out to be the injured party though it acknowledged I had done nothing wrong?! She then continued to chat to other ‘friends’ on her Facebook wall whilst ignoring me, first her husband ‘unfriended’ me and then she started to ignore me. To be honest I only hung around for a while as I thought she was being ‘controlled’ by him, as he even refused to use her actual name but ‘renamed’ her to all his friends (rather odd!). The only friends she kept up with were those that he preferred… but I though we always got on ok…. and then she started to ghost… it really hurt to see her other conversations on FB , I was grown woman but it still hurt! So I let her go. Unfriended and moved on. A few years later She text me out of the blue but I did not recognise the number so I replied with “Hi who is this? sorry I don’t recognise the number” she replied with her name and I remarked how she must’ve changed her number in that time and how was she… she never replied…. I will never know if she is the victim of a controlling husband or if she had a breakdown, but I do know it was 20 years of friendship that seemed to just fall apart with me and our other friend (we are still tight!) I just hope she is safe….

    Like

  31. I had a best friend for years. The only one I thought understood me. Our kids were friends — WE were friends. She moved away to another state. I went to visit her. We had a great time. When I returned she suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. Cut off. Period. I gathered it was something I said about her standing up for herself in her relationship or something. No matter. She dumped my a$$. That was 7 years ago. I’m still hurt. And don’t get it. But life goes on.

    Liked by 1 person

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