We’ve all experienced the inevitable ghosting by a guy. You know, you’re cruising along, things are going well, you’ve been texting every day, maybe even hung out a time or two, when all of a sudden, POOF. He vanishes, into thin air, leaving you wondering what you did wrong or what could have happened to scare him away. (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.)
In this age of endless forms of communication, it’s never been easier for people, and yes, even friends to excommunicate themselves from our lives. I recently had this happen to me. A friend who I considered very near and dear to my life, someone I talked to almost daily and hung out with weekly and even traveled with, just one day disappeared from my life.
I’ve been in this place in my life where I don’t want to do all the work anymore when it comes to friendships or relationships. I don’t want to feel like I’m making all the effort, doing all the inviting, always reaching out and asking and planning and coordinating. It’s exhausting. And it leaves you wondering, If I stop doing all of the work, would this person still be in my life?
If the answer to that question is no, then was the relationship ever really that strong to begin with? I guess I got my answer with this particular friendship, because when I stopped being the initiator, the relationship completely fizzled. That hurt. And it left me wondering why I wasn’t as important to this person’s life as they were to mine.
After everything I’ve been through over this past year—all the changes and struggles and growth and becoming—I’ve learned more than a little bit about letting go. I don’t want to hold on to people who don’t actively choose to be in my life, friends or otherwise. And I might have lost a few friends over the past year as a result of no longer being willing to carry the entire friendship on my back, but was it really a loss?
I think some losses are really gains in that we gain back time we were investing in the wrong people, energy spent worrying about why they never seemed to reciprocate our efforts, and even parts of ourselves that we lost in the frantic effort to stay in someone’s life who wasn’t doing anything to keep us in theirs.
My adventures in dating have taught me a lot about letting go, too. The hard truth that I’ve learned through modern dating and online dating is that some guys are simply going to disappear with no explanation and there’s nothing I can do about it and no point in trying to understand it. Sometimes I’m going to think a meet-up or a date went really well and then I’m never going to hear from the guy again. It’s not going to make sense and I’m not going to always get an answer or closure. That’s just life.
And so it goes with all people who ghost. A pretty wise woman once said: “Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did. Let it go.” (In case you were wondering, that pretty wise woman was me, ha!) So whether it’s a friendship or a relationship, here are a few tips for surviving a ghosting:
1. Ask yourself: Did I do anything wrong here?
Is there perhaps something that happened that you need to own up to and apologize for? Did you alienate this person in any way? If so, do what you need to do to make it right. Sometimes when we get really honest with ourselves, we realize that our own actions played a role, however minor, in the other person’s retreat. On the flip side, I will say this. When someone ghosts and completely vanishes from your life without a trace, typically there was nothing you did to cause it and nothing you could have done to stop it.
2. Make peace with the not knowing.
You may never know why they disappeared, stopped texting, stopped calling, and never talked to you again. Maybe they were going through something in their own lives that caused them to isolate themselves. Maybe another friend or relationship came along and distracted them. Maybe they were intimidated by you and didn’t see a place for themselves in your life. Or maybe it was none of the above or all of the above. The point is, you’ll likely never know. So you can beat your head repeatedly into a wall trying to figure out the un-figure-out-able, or you can simply let go and move on with your life.
3. Don’t give them power over you.
Realize that as horrible as this ghosting feels, this person’s retreat from your life does not have to completely devastate you. You have other options, both in love and friendship. Look around at the amazing people already in your life who do make an effort to be there. Hey! Now you have more time to spend with them. And more time to get out there and make new friends or meet new love interests. You have to be willing to put yourself out there a little and try new things if you want to meet new people. Nothing worthwhile in life was ever achieved by staying safe inside your comfort zone.
At the end of the day, just know that a friend or a romantic interest ghosting says nothing about you and everything about them. If they couldn’t even take the time to explain why they needed to exit stage left of your life, they’re not worthy of being in your life. Don’t hold a place for them. Move on to all the people and relationships and friendships that are rewarding and life-giving and always reciprocal. They’re out there, I promise. You just might have to swipe right or left a few times to find them.