Should You Ghost Your Friends?

Why You Might Consider Disappearing From Their Lives

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Ghosting is a term that originated in the dating world and refers to one person suddenly and without warning cutting off contact by simply disappearing from the other person’s life. They refuse to answer calls or texts, block them on social media, and basically pretend as if the relationship never happened.

But ghosting can apply to any relationship, and it happens in friendship much more than most of us care to admit.

How Common Is It?

We all know that the proper way to break up with a friend is to communicate your desires to move on. Why is it so hard to do that? For some, ghosting is a way to avoid conflict and move on without the hassle of a friend asking questions about why they’re being dumped.

A 2014 poll found that 11 percent of people admitted to ghosting at one time or another, but I’d be willing to be that this number increases as more people understand what the term really means. The people who regularly ghost don’t reflect all that much on their actions, so admitting they did so in a poll probably isn’t going to happen.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior Followed by Ghosting

It’d be great if a friend could ask for what they need, but too often they expect their friends to know. For instance, you keep forgiving a friend for their snarky comments to you but instead of telling them you don’t like it you just get sick of it one day and pull away.

Or, when you’re going through a health crisis or lost your job and need your friend to be there for you and they are not, you don’t call them out on it because you’re already hurt. Then, when they do something else that bugs you down the line you do the ghost-fade to weed them out of your life.

This type of passive-aggressive behavior happens when a friend doesn’t want to bother with the hard work of talking through disagreements or areas where the friendship isn’t good, and instead decides to leave the friendship. But even when a friend behaves poorly, you need to take responsibility for your part, which was not communicating your needs.

Why It  So Much

The flip side of ghosting is being ghosted. It is one thing when you did something wrong and understand why a friend is now cutting you off, but most people aren’t self-aware enough to do this. There is a prevailing myth among friends that you can do whatever it is you please and when you’re over it, your friend should be also. In these cases, people don’t understand the reasons behind ghosting because they’re clueless about their own behavior, even when a friend tells them otherwise.

Another reason friends get ghosted without warning is when they’re in denial about the state of their friendship. You’ll often hear someone complain that they thought they were good friends when in fact they probably failed to show up as a friend or treated someone poorly one too many times and now their friend is just done.

When It May Be Appropriate

While those in the dating world may have genuine concern when someone ghosts them, I’d argue that there are times in friendships where you’re absolutely within your right to ghost.

Ghosting might be appropriate when:

  • You and a friend have had the same discussion over and over about their behavior, and they keep doing it anyway.
  • You try to talk with them and they just won’t hear it or can’t honestly self-reflect on what they’re really like.
  • They betray you and you’re done with the friendship.
  • They have a verbal meltdown on you and you’re scared of their temper.
  • They go off on you online in social media and then pretend it didn’t happen.
  • They hit or slap you and then when they’re “calm” pretend like it’s no big deal.
  • You’ve told them if they do something (whatever it is) again you’re done, and they do it again anyway.

Friendship is an at-will relationship without the ties that marriage has. Friends are in your life because they want to be, so if they behave in an un-friend-like way, ghosting is well within your right. Or to put it more bluntly, who has time for people who don’t treat you well?