The Underrated Heartache: Being Ghosted In Friendships
The title of today’s post is inspired by this poem of Rupi Kaur’s:
Can we talk about how devastating friendship breakups are? When friendships end, it can be just as emotionally challenging as romantic heartache. Sometimes even more so. We invest a lot into our close friendships- years of shared experiences, laughter, vulnerable moments, and family ties. Our friends might even know us more closely than family members.
The invisible thread of shared experiences that bonds and connects us in friendships give our lives so much meaning. Any sentence that starts with “Remember when?” usually ends in a story or a fit of laughter.
When close friends ghost us, we lose all of that suddenly and without explanation.
Rupi Kaur calls heartbreak with friends underrated for a good reason- we don’t talk enough about the deep sense of mourning we experience when a close friendship ends, drifts apart, or transforms into something we can no longer live with.
Why Does Being Ghosted In Friendships Hurt So Much?
Ghosting occurs when someone cuts off all forms of contact and communication, without providing any warning or reasons for their behaviour.
Most of us associate being ghosted with dating and dating apps (can you imagine the size of a Minder/Tinder ghosting support group?). A few of us know all too well that our friends can ghost us too, and it feels just as awful (if not worse).
Why does it hurt so much?
We Never Think Our Friendships Can End
Romantic relationships usually begin with an understanding that they can end, or change in a way that we no longer find acceptable. Most of us don’t begin a friendship ever contemplating that it can be over one day. When friendships do end, the loss is sudden and sometimes unbearable.
Moreover, we know that ‘replacing’ a treasured friend is not easy as an adult. As we progress through life, we have to make active efforts to seek and cultivate friendships. This can be difficult to do while we juggle growing responsibilities!
Drifting Apart Is Hard
Most of us assume that our friendships will either last forever or remain a fixture in our lives one way or another. The truth is that it’s quite common to drift or grow apart from friends.
Drifting apart from friends is often accompanied by other life changes that can make it difficult to cope. For example, maybe you got married and moved away. And now on top of adjusting to married life and a new city, you are coping with the realization that your friendship is losing its depth with the distance.
Transitioning out of university and post-secondary also naturally tightens our circle of friends. The process of taking on an adult role after years of being a student is difficult enough without the added stress of changing friendships.
We Blame Ourselves For It
Most of us know that being ghosted has less to do with you and nearly everything to do with the person who ghosted you. People who ghost choose themselves over your wellbeing.
Yet, we feel waves of anxiety, retracing every step to figure out what we did wrong. Not knowing what went wrong, and having very little information to piece things together means that we fill in the blanks with our own anxiety.
Given that we don’t even have an opportunity to have a conversation and make things right, we also begin to question our value in that person’s life. The whole friendship takes on a different shade from this lens, and that can be very difficult to deal with.
How To Cope With Being Ghosted By A Friend
If you know the pain of being ghosted by a friend, or have experienced a friendship breakup in general, I am sending you SO much love and many, many hugs. What you are going through is not easy.
Believe me, I have been there:
It’s normal to grieve lost friendships. Here are some thoughts to help you navigate this landscape of grief.
Remember, You Are Not At Fault
Ghosting is rarely about you and almost always about the ghoster’s discomfort, conflict avoidance, and poor communication skills.
Even if you can trace the ghosting to a particular issue, that person made a choice to ghost you without an explanation, rather than working the issue out with you.
That should tell you everything you need to know.
Some Days Will Be Hard, Some Less So
Grief tends to ebb and flow. There will be some days where thinking about your friend has you in tears and feeling the physical pain of heartbreak. Other days, you may find that you feel neutral, or even distant. There may even be times you can enjoy the memories without feeling overwhelmed by sadness.
Give yourself time- there is no singular path to feeling okay again.
Write It Down
When we are going through something as difficult and emotionally demanding as being ghosted by a friend, our chaotic and anxious thoughts need an outlet. Journaling, voice-journaling, even drawing and doodling can all be ways to help us feel more present and organized. From this position, we have a better chance of gaining perspective about the situation.
Fill Your Time With Things You LOVE
Do all the things you love. Add depth and value to your life by pursuing hobbies, and discovering new and exciting pursuits. If there is something you and your friend loved doing it together, create new memories and experiences around those activities. Yes, you can (and should!) invest in yourself while mourning the loss of a friendship.
Here is a little reel to summarize the above:
Being ghosted be a friend, and friendship breakups in general are SO difficult. I know this from personal experience, and also through my work as a therapist. Give yourself time. Try not to pressure yourself into ‘getting over it’- it won’t help you actually cope with the feelings of loss.
I hope that your heart finds ease. As I said in a post above, people come, people go, all that is guaranteed is that we have to keep trying, trying to show up and do the best for ourselves.
I want to hear from you: Does this experience of being ghosted by a friend resonate with you? How did you cope with it?
Until next time!
Sarah Ahmed is the co-founder and a psychotherapist at WellNest Psychotherapy Services. Sarah strongly favors an integrative, trauma-informed, client-centered approach to create a healthy alliance with clients and their loved ones.