Thoughts

Friend-Ghosting

It’s Halloween, and to celebrate, I’m writing something themed. I’ve already covered ghosting in this post (summary: don’t do it), so I thought I’d cover a variation of this sadly common occurrence: friend-ghosting. Same principle as ghosting- but you were just friends.

I’ve been a bit of a boomerang when it comes to moving out. I’m currently back home, but I’ve had stints living in London- once for four months, once for just over a year. The first time I was so busy training for my Kilimanjaro climb, fundraising, and writing I kind of neglected the social side, however the second time around I was determined to live the city-girl fantasy life. I had a couple of friends in London, so the plan was to sneak in with their crew and go from there.

friend-ghosting

Upon arrival, one of them moved to New York City, and the other wouldn’t respond to my invitations to meet up. So I had to start from scratch. I mean, dating is important, but it’s nice to have some decent platonic company too.

Easier said than done. During education, you take it for granted how easy it is to meet people. Sure, people are dicks and friendship can be hard, but when you move to a new city where do you actually look? You’re at work all day and evening classes don’t seem to have a social side, so what to do? Luckily, a couple of months in, Bumble BFF came out and I thought all my prayers had been answered. Except again, easier said than done.

First came the flaking. It’s happened a few times with men on dates. But the women were a whole other level. Every meetup I organised, people would drop out, some with as little as 20 minutes notice. I soon caught on to the fact that it had to be group meetups only, otherwise I’d go insane. Then came the ghosting. People had a tendency to put their political views on their profiles, so I managed to filter out anyone I knew would grate on me, so everyone I ended up meeting I quite liked. But it seemed the feeling wasn’t mutual. It would go like this. I’d set up a meeting. We’d go, and it would be fun, and we’d agree to meet up again. I’d invite them to the next meetup. They’d be busy. So I’d invite them to the next one. And… silence. Ghosted.

This happened once. Then again. Then again with someone I really clicked with and was excited about. Perhaps it could just be the nature of the app. But then it happened with people I’d met through other channels too. I met this guy through writing, and we got on really well. We’d met for drinks a couple of times, then I invited him to a house party. We spent ages in the garden together having this really intense discussion about politics, and I thought I’d met a fellow traveller. I invited him to this drinks thing I’d organised the following week, and he just… didn’t show. No message. Then I never heard from him again. Until he started “haunting” me occassionally when he wanted something, and I got tired of his shit and blocked him. I reconnected with a guy I knew from sixth form via Tinder. We met up for drinks, it was fun, and we’d agreed to see each other again. I invited him to a couple of things, but eventually he just stopped replying. I’d seen one girl from Bumble BFF a good 4 or 5 times, but then she got a weekend job and I guess couldn’t make any more meetups, so she left the group chat and stopped talking to me without saying a word.

Don’t get me wrong, romantic ghosting is much worse. I mean fine if it’s just been one date and you didn’t really care, but being ghosted after you’ve connected, or worse still slept with them, really hurts. When you find that rare spark of attraction, you can develop strong feelings early on, so even if it’s only been a few dates it still stings. But there’s something about friend-ghosting that really sucks. I guess because it’s not expected. After a good date, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic and keep the apps open in case he ghosts. But I suppose you kind of expect better from friends, so I got ahead with my BFF fantasies, until BOOM! friend-ghosted. And I’d understand why someone would not to want to date me. I mean, there are prettier and more confident girls out there. But despite my flaws, one thing I’m damn good at is being a friend. So WHY WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME?

Perhaps they just don’t like me. But I think there could be something deeper than that. They just don’t care enough. I find with dating, if someone wants to see you, they will see you. But friendship is made less of a priority, so sometimes you can click with someone, but they’re busy, life gets in the way, and they just don’t care enough to see you I’m sure we’ve all had the friend who started dating someone and you never heard from them again. Sometimes friendships fade (or fail to get off the ground) due to nothing more than circumstance and lack of effort.

So what’s the solution? With dating I’d always advocate for complete honesty over ghosting. Hearing “I don’t see this going anywhere” sucks, but it’s better than being stuck waiting by the phone. But I’m not sure how you’d say “I don’t want to be your friend”, so the only thing I can really advise for the ghoster is not to write people off too quickly and think before you ghost- someone who’s not “cool” on the surface can turn out to be an amazing friend. As for the ghostee, I’d say manage your expectations. Just as it’s best not to get excited about a first date in case the guy turns out to be weird, if you’re meeting a new person for a friend-date go in with the mindset that they may not turn up, that way it’s a nice surprise when they do. And just as you try and keep level after a good first date, after a good friend-date prepare yourself that they might ghost.

On the plus side though, it’s not all doom and gloom. Amidst all the flaking and friend-ghosting, I made one of my best friends through Bumble BFF, and I’ve recently met a couple of cool people through Twitter. You just have to go through the bad ones to get a good one. A bit like dating really.

Have you ever been friend-ghosted? Or friend-ghosted someone? Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Friend-Ghosting

  1. That’s a really thought-provoking post. Have you read what relationship therapist and author, Esther Perel has to say on ghosting? If not go to her website to find her article and chart. Friend ghosting is a phenomenon of our times as well I think, especially in highly populated places where people and relationships somehow seem more expendable. I think it’s easy to mount an argument that as technology and work has overtaken our lives, we care less about connecting with other people and conversing face to face. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. There is another important aspect to consider here – it’s them and not you, or specifically one aspect of their personality. Online communities such as Meet Up attract people with social anxiety who otherwise struggle to make friends. The digital world feels safe and allows people to make connections that they would otherwise be terrified of in the real world. The problem is that it’s online world that intends to go offline. They have every intention of meeting up, realising how important it is to do so, but flake out at the last minute because their anxiety got the better of them.

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  3. Honestly, I’ve done some similar things in online chat rooms, like on Discord. People I really care about, I end up just not talking to and ghosting for days at a time. It’s possible that, in the 21st century, with all the stress of daily life, that maintaining this kind of long-term, dedicated even friendship is really hard. I suffer from depression, admittedly, so maybe that’s it, but still. I think that honestly, this is a problem we sometimes struggle with as a society. How to deal with it, though; that’s where the issue lies.

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  4. Didn’t really know this even existed but I kind of feel like one of my friends is ghosting me at the moment and it’s really starting to annoy me because I hate feeling like I’m the only one putting effort into a friendship…

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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