Have you ever been ghosted by someone? This common modern term refers to somebody deciding not to be friends with you anymore but not letting you in on their decision or the reason for making it. Poof. They are just gone from your life—except for whatever length of time this loss of friendship causes you mental and emotional turmoil. Then, they are present in your life…even if you are no longer present in theirs.
It’s a harsh, insensitive, and punishing way to end a relationship, don’t you think? Someone stops talking to you, blocks you on Facebook, and doesn’t respond to your texts, emails, or phone calls. And there’s no explanation—no way for you to understand what happened or what you might have done to hurt or offend them or to make it right. You can’t even apologize; even if you do, you don’t know for what.
Being ghosted or disowned by a friend can be a disturbing and painful experience. I know because it has happened to me twice in my life.
I now realize this experience doesn’t have to be quite as upsetting or cause prolonged mental and emotional distress.
Ghosted by a Friend
I was ghosted by one of my best friends in college—twice. She and I were in the same program at Syracuse University and even roomed together our senior year.
The first time was not long after we graduated. We were living in Atlanta and met up once or twice. Then, I heard nothing from her. She finally responded to one email explaining that she thought I was competing with her. After that, she never responded again. I thought about her for a long time, wishing we were still friends.
We reconnected years later after I searched her out and discovered we were living close to each other again. We had lunch together and communicated a few times after that. Then…nada. I would call or email and receive no response.
Again, I was upset. I searched for my friend online, even looking for her published work to get some insight into where she was and what she was doing. But this gave me no closure on our friendship. (Can you believe that 20+ years later, writing this sent post me to Google, where I spent 30 minutes trying to find her again!)
Then this past week, it happened again with a woman I’ve known for about nine months. I hadn’t reached out to her in about six to eight weeks because I had been busy. I tried to connect with her several times before that, but she could not meet. Maybe that was when she began to pull away.
When I first reached out to her by text, I received a short response: “You take care of yourself, and I’ll take care of me.” It was evident that she wanted nothing to do with me. I asked why, but she wouldn’t tell me, suggesting I do some “soul searching” instead.
I proceeded to do what many in the digital age would do: try to figure it out by looking for any clue online. I searched the Facebook groups we both belonged to, read through all our text streams, and scoured posts on Nextdoor. And I racked my brain for anything I said or did that she might have misinterpreted or where I might have inadvertently hurt or offended her.
I couldn’t find anything, and she stopped responding after I sent her many texts. She even blocked me on Facebook.
Seeking Internal Resolution
I spent most of that day focused on what I might have done to make this person, whom I like and respect, disown me as a friend. I knew this wasn’t healthy and had to break free of my need to understand why. Instead, I needed to find an internal resolution.
So, I reached out to my 11 best friends via our WhatsApp thread. I told them what had happened and shared that I was upset.
One replied, “That woman is the one who is missing out. It’s her loss.”
And another reminded me that a friend she’d known for a decade had ghosted her. I recalled our conversations when she shared her hurt and upset about not knowing why she had lost such a good friend. From her experience, she said, “Nina, it’s all happening for you. Just know that as your vibration rises, people drop away. Stop focusing on her, and know it’s for the best.”
Finally, I told my husband what had happened. He was as surprised as me that this woman had ghosted me, which made me feel better, too.
Appreciate the Friends You Have
I also told my group of besties, who I’ve known for 30 years or more, how much I love and appreciate them. And I asked them to always tell me if something I said or did offended or hurt them in any way. I would always want to clear that up and make it right…and I’d never let our friendship end abruptly without explanation.
Their responses warmed my heart. Each one assured me they would never simply walk away from our friendship without explanation and would communicate and work to repair the friendship. They would never walk away.
I also reached out to some of my neighbors, whom I’ve known for only a short time. I let them know I appreciated them as well.
I also asked if our relationship was on sound footing in one case. I had felt a little tension, but I wasn’t sure if it was just in my head. Turned out it was…and I was able to “clear” and move on.
You Want Friends Who Communicate
At this point, I realized that I don’t want to be friends with people who aren’t willing to work on the relationship or communicate about issues that arise. (And issues almost always occur at one point or another.) Instead, I want friends who share with me, work on the relationship, and want to grow individually and together as a result.
Communication is everything in a relationship of any kind. You must be committed to making it work and at least sharing when you’re hurt or upset about something.
You also have to be willing to hear the other person out—find out why they did or said what they did. It’s possible—totally possible—that your interpretation of their words or actions was not what they intended. Misunderstandings happen so easily and quickly. And they can be cleared up just as quickly with honest communication.
The neighbor I contacted (the one I thought I might have offended) mentioned a person who stopped talking to her after not being invited to a dinner party. “It’s like being in high school,” she said.
Indeed, harboring ill feelings toward someone and not telling them why—even ignoring them rather than speaking with them—is childish. And it’s hurtful. In fact, not telling them why you no longer choose to be friends is punishing them for whatever you think they’ve done.
Five Steps to Get Over Being Ghosted by a Friend
There’s a high likelihood that somebody has ghosted you or will disown you as a friend at some point in your life. You might even have a family member who refuses to speak to you any longer—without explanation. Maybe you have already experienced this unpleasant event and are still feeling bewildered and hurt.
I’d like to share the five steps that helped me resolve the hurt and confusion and move on.
1. Conduct a brief soul-searching exercise.
It’s never a good practice to assume you did nothing wrong and blame the other person somehow—for being overly sensitive or withholding, for instance. So instead, do the soul-searching I was directed to do.
Take a reasonable amount of time to review the relationship history. See if you can identify something you said or did that could have hurt or offended the other person. Reasonable does not mean a week or month…even the entire day I spent on this was too much, in my opinion.
If you find something you could have done better or that you did wrong, by all means, fess up. Take responsibility, and apologize—even change, if that’s something you want or feel you need to do.
Also, try to make amends if you can. If they can’t forgive you, let it—and them—go at that point. The Jewish tradition recommends asking for forgiveness three times; if the person still can’t accept your apology, the “sin” becomes theirs…not yours.
When you feel you’ve done all you can to make the situation right, move on. This does not include constantly calling or texting the person who ghosted you and begging to be forgiven and taken back. It also does not mean repeatedly trying to make amends. Once is enough.
2. Stop questioning yourself.
When someone you care about ghosts or disowns you, it’s human nature to question yourself. “Is there something wrong with me? Am I a bad person? Do I speak or behave in a way others don’t like?” Worse, you ask, “Am I okay as I am…or is something inherently wrong with me?”
If you go down this road for very long, you will find yourself trying to change or conform to how you believe people expect or want you to be. After all, we have an inherent need to be liked, loved, and accepted, right? But at what cost?
You also have a need to be yourself. And if other people don’t like who you are, they’re not “your people.”
If you feel stuck at this stage and uncertain that you are okay as you are or that you’ve done something wrong, ask your real friends for feedback, like I did.
If you and they can find no inherent flaws in your character and you still can’t identify anything you have done wrong, accept yourself…as you are. Accept yourself for who you are and continue being authentic.
3. Stop wasting time and energy.
It’s a waste of your time and energy to try and make somebody tell you something they don’t want to tell you. Additionally, it’s emotionally and mentally draining to try and figure out why they ghosted or disowned you.
If you’ve done your due diligence (completed steps #1 and #2), take my friend’s advice: “She didn’t want to tell you why she ghosted you and won’t accept your apology. So, just let it go.”
And so I did. I stopped trying to figure it out. I stopped focusing on the person who ghosted me. And immediately felt better.
4. Cut the energetic cords.
When you are in a relationship with anyone, you have psychic cords, or energetic ties, connecting the two of you. But suppose you have psychic cords to someone who no longer wants to be in a relationship with you or with whom there are negative feelings (on their end or yours). In that case, this drains your energy…and keeps you connected even after the relationship ends.
These psychic cords can even impact your personal power. In fact, withholding the reason for the break in friendship is a power play. It makes you feel as if they hold all the power…and you have none.
Luckily, I have a friend who is an energy healer. I reached out to her and told her what had happened. Her response provided another step in letting go. She said, “Cut your psychic cords with her. Just clear your energy and be done with it.”
That’s what I did next. I cleaned my energy field using a sage spray. I could have “smudged” in the Native American tradition, burning sage and sweeping the smoke around y body, but it was late, and I wanted to “be done with it” as quickly as possible.
As the spray settled on my body, I said, “I cut all psychic cords to ___ (name of the person)___. I release her energy from my energy field, and I take my energy back from hers. (name of the person)’s energy is no longer welcome in my energy field.”
I sprayed the sage all over myself one more time. Then I used lavender spray and repeated the statement above. Afterward, I felt lighter and complete. I went to sleep and did not dream about the situation. I did not wake up with this event on my mind.
5. Forgive, accept and love yourself.
In the following days, I took one more step that helped me fully let go of the experience of being ghosted by this friend. It also stopped all the self-recriminations and negative feelings that came with it. I forgave myself.
Like my neighbor said, being ghosted takes me back to high school. I so wanted to be liked and accepted then. And if someone kicked me out of or wouldn’t let me into a clique, I would obsess over the experience and that person for months.
But that didn’t change how they felt. It didn’t make them like me or forgive me. It just made me feel horrible about myself.
So, be a fabulous friend to yourself. Forgive and accept yourself. Love yourself enough to let this friend go…just like they let you go. Love yourself enough to allow yourself to be authentic…and the best version of yourself.
Then go find friends who love and appreciate you as you are but are willing to communicate about how you can grow and evolve. And show appreciation for the friends you have. Reach out…tell them you love them.
You are Great!
I hope you’re never ghosted by a friend and that nobody you love disowns you. However, if you experience this unpleasant event, take the five steps I’ve shared. They should help you as much as they helped me.
And remember what Louise Hay wrote on a poster I have on my wall:
You are great!
There is no one else like you on the planet.
There never has been and there never will be.
You are forever a unique, divine creation.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
And the people who don’t want you in their lives or see your greatness, stop trying to keep them in yours.
Have you ever been ghosted or disowned by a friend or family member? Tell me about your experience (and what helped most) in a comment below. And please share this post on social media or with any friends you know who might find it useful.
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Photo copyright: Luis Fernando Mancilla