Edit: this is part one of a series I’ll be writing on some recent personal growth. I realized I needed to present the context for the rest of the series.
A quick Google search for ghosting pulls up the following definition: “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”
It’s considered bad manners to be the ghost, suddenly cutting all ties, denying the other party closure. I wish I could say that I’ve never been a ghost, but that wouldn’t be true.
Before you judge too harshly, allow me to explain: I ghost to protect myself. Maybe that’s selfish; maybe it’s rude, maybe it denies the other person closure. Honestly, I don’t care because there are certain situations where I’d rather leave the other person wondering what happened than have to suffer their abuse when I lay out exactly what’s going wrong and why I’m ending things. There’s a difference between selfishness and self-preservation.
I don’t like digging too far into my personal life on this blog. Well, to clarify, I’m fine digging into my personal thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and processes, but when it comes to my relationships with other people, I like to respect their privacy. I don’t talk much about my family or my friends or my person on this blog, and I don’t intend to start. Therefore, it’s difficult to give a concrete example of the times I’ve ghosted someone.
As tempting as it is to blast a former friend – someone who hurt me, and others, deeply – online, that’s not the kind of person I want to be. Therefore, I won’t identify this person by name; I won’t mention their gender; I won’t relate details of what they did or said, but will instead stick to vague descriptions (now there’s an oxymoron) and generalizations.
Suffice it to say, this person did something that hurt me deeply. In conjunction with what they did to me, they hurt another friend in an even worse way. I tried to confront this person, telling them how hurt I was and how shocked I was at how this person had treated our other friend. Rather than listen, accept fault, or apologize for their unacceptable behavior, this friend (whom I’ve long considered a precious person) decided to deflect the blame onto me, digging up every slightly shitty thing I’ve ever done over the course of a long friendship.
I was shocked and hurt. I own that I’m not always the best of friends. When I’m depressed, I withdraw. I don’t communicate well, and I don’t reach out to my friends. I don’t initiate communication or plan hangouts, or invite people to come over. I acknowledge this. I’ve been working to improve those habits, and I’d thought that this friend understood and accepted that part of me. To have symptoms of my mental health and things I did (or didn’t do) while in the grips of deep-seeded depression lobbed at me like hand grenades both infuriated me and filled me with deep sadness.
At the end of this tirade (sent via text) my friend asked me if I was willing to end our friendship over what they’d done. I could have responded yes. I could have responded with a list of all the things they’d ever done to hurt me. I could have told them all the arguments I never made, all the pet peeves I’d never brought up out of fear of hurting them. I could have apologized and agreed to start again. But in my heart of hearts, underneath everything I show to the world, I’m a stubborn bitch.
This person wanted to pull me back in. They wanted me to submit to their terms: that I was the one at fault, that I was the lesser friend. They were denying what I felt and superseding their feelings over mine (I realize that without context, this sounds more than a little paranoid). As I rage read that text over and over, drafting countless responses in my head, I came to a single conclusion: there’s no way I come out of this on top if I engage. If this is how this person is going to treat me every time I voice a grievance (by the way, this was the only the second time over the course of many years I’d ever told this person off), then it’s not worth it. We weren’t communicating on the same level, and the communication we were having was harmful. So rather than escalate, I ghosted.
I’m not going to go into further detail about the actual situation because the person it involves is online. They’re someone I cared about for a long time, and caring is a hard habit to break. So, please limit comments to the act of ghosting itself. Have you ever ghosted anyone? Why? Have you ever been ghosted? How did it make you feel?
Thank you for reading.
Next: meditations on the nature of friendship.