'It's like they never existed': I was ghosted by a friend

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Ghosting isn't just confined to the dating realm – friends can do it too.

One minute you have a friendship with someone, and the next they stop returning your calls and texts. Then you realise they've unfriended you on Facebook and unfollowed you on Instagram.

Just like that – they disappear. It's like they never existed.  

It's happened to me. Someone who I'd been friends with for years, just vanished, not to everyone else, just to me.

Looking back, I suppose it was a slow burn. At first it was just an invitation turned down because she was "busy". Then there were the pictures on Instagram of her out with mutual friends - my invite was surely missing.

It became increasingly difficult to catch up. Our schedules never aligned. Then my text messages started being ignored and then, bam, she was gone.

Although she wasn't gone, she was still there - it was me that had been removed from her life.

I felt like I was in some strange teen movie – always checking my phone in case she'd called me back or wondering if maybe she'd changed her number or lost her phone. Maybe there'd been a glitch in Facebook? Surely, she wouldn't ghost me?

Do grown women do that?

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I wasn't a clingy friend – I have three kids, a husband, a dog and a job – I don't have time to be clingy. And we'd never had a fight.

At first I was really hurt. I couldn't work out what I had done wrong. I'm sure I wasn't blameless and I would've been willing to make things better.

Maybe I hadn't been attentive enough? Or perhaps she had just grown bored of me? Maybe I was a crap friend and instead of telling me, she thought it was easier to just walk away? Or maybe she wasn't my real friend in the first place?

All I know for sure was that a simple email or phone call explaining why she thought our friendship was no longer would have been the more mature and kind thing to do.

We haven't run into each other yet, but I'm definitely dreading that moment.

Do we pretend we don't see other or awkwardly wave and move on? At this stage, I'm too hurt to do much else than walk away.

Clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb said ghosting was really hurtful.

"Ghosting usually occurs when someone is not mature enough to have difficult conversations and talk about their feelings," Ms Cribb said.

"It leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions and you can feel angry or unresolved when you don't have the opportunity to have your say or talk it through."

It's not worth your energy trying to understand why it happened or what the other person was thinking, as you'll probably never know the truth.

"Remind yourself that this person ghosting you has shown you that they don't have what it takes to work through issues and be a good friend, so it is actually good you found out sooner rather than later," she said.

"Feel free also to send them a closure email or text and allow yourself to tell them how you feel and share your feelings about how they've treated you.

"Even if they never read it, it will still feel good to have put it into words."

In my case, I just feel sorry for her. Ghosting is a cruel, weak and cowardly thing to do another person. I just hope she gets the help she needs to better deal with her friendships in the future.