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My Girlfriend Ghosted Me

Published on 11/15/2022

In midlife, many of us are rethinking our female friendships. This significant life transition—potentially involving new priorities, a geographic move, a change in work or marital or family status, a new mindset—may precipitate a desire for new friendships.

This may also mean letting go of friendships that no longer serve us. Maybe we’ve grown apart. Maybe the relationship was only tenable when our kids were besties. Maybe we’ve realized some relationships are simply too toxic to maintain.

Most of these friendship changes happen fairly naturally, through gentle attrition. The emails, texts, calls and get-togethers become less frequent until they stop altogether. Both sides are on the same page. No hard feelings.

But sometimes one friend is ready to move on while the other is not. And that can be painful.

I myself have been on the receiving end of this unexpected unfriending, leaving me hurt and bewildered. I’ll give you two examples.

One of my daughters’ middle school friends had a mother who was a little awkward and seemed to have a hard time infiltrating the mom scene in our small suburban community. I felt for her, having been in her shoes before, and made it a point to include her in various social activities and mom groups, in the process developing what I thought was a close friendship with her.

At some point, my daughter and hers moved on, but I continued to invest in the friendship with the mom. This mother, however, began to push me away, becoming unresponsive and cool to me. I was baffled and eventually simply gave up. I could not figure out what had happened, except that maybe she could not see us remaining friends if our daughters weren’t. In the end, I felt sad that she viewed our friendship as predicated on our girls’ friendships.

More recently, a new friend I’d made in the city who had been very generous in introducing me to her social group, and whom I’d confided in when I was going through marital difficulties, simply stopped contacting me and ignored my emails and texts.

When we threw a backyard cocktail party last year, and she had not RSVP’d, I hounded her (a little desperately, I admit) until she finally texted me back saying she and her husband were unavailable. No pleasantries or inquiries as to how I was doing. I took the hint and ceased all contact. Maybe my life had too much drama for her.

I know not all friendships are meant to survive through thick and thin. It’s easiest to let them die off naturally when both parties are on the same page. But it can be quite bewildering when you’re on the receiving end of the ghosting and trying to figure out what happened.

Looking back, I wish I’d asked these friends if I’d done something to upset them, rather than letting my anxiety get the best of me. I hope to do better next time. When it comes to these two former friends, I’ve moved on and have learned that if someone is not interested in being my friend, it’s best to wish her well and let her go.

And as we come upon the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, I am so grateful for my many amazing girlfriends, both old and steadfast, as well as new and deepening. Your love and loyalty, openness and compassion mean the world to me. Thank you for bringing so much acceptance and joy into my life.

YOUR TURN: Have you been ghosted for unknown reasons? Or have you found it hard to break off friendships without hurt feelings? What’s your advice? Let us know in the comments!

HeleneTStelian Musing
I’m Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Mentor with a passion for facilitating personal development in women 40+. Through my THRIVE community, I help introspective, curious, action-oriented women 40+ deepen their journeys of self-discovery and growth—and create their next chapter with courage and intention.

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8 Comments

  1. Rena

    I have a hard time with friendships because I’m very private and so anti-social that I don’t go to places where I can meet new people. I’ve let my social anxiety keep me home more often than I like to admit. My close friends all live over 400 miles away or are online and people I’ve never met irl. I hate it and want to change but therapy around here is a pipe dream.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Social anxiety is so hard! I have a family member who suffers from it and it can be debilitating. I know she feels lonely a lot. I thought with Covid and the advent of telehealth that there were many more opportunities for remote therapy. Have you looked into that? I know I attend remote therapy now and love it. Check out the Psychology Today Site to find a provider in your state since they usually need to be licensed in your state: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists . I’m also a big fan of online support groups and there are great free ones through this site: https://heypeers.com/ and through NAMI (look for a chapter in your state). Hope that helps!

      Reply
  2. Laurie Stone

    I find that as I grow older, I need less friends, except those I truly enjoy. Some friends are deep relationships where you share your truest feelings. Others are funny and light. Still others are old friends and we’ve known each other a long time. I’ve also had friends slip away without explanation. Some I miss, but I must admit, some I don’t.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Such a healthy way to look at it Laurie! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

      Reply
  3. Diane

    My experience with fading relationships were always due to geography. Me moving. Or them. A few years ago, a woman in my church pursued a friendship and we got on well together. Four of our kids were much the same age and schoolmates. But I found as time went along that she got more and more biting in her comments and I would emerge from each innocent get-together bruised and hurting. Finally, I told my Husby that I dreaded being with her. His advice? ‘Let her go’. I did. Not calling back when she had left a message. Always pleasant when we met, but never seeking her out. It was the first and only time I’ve ever done that, but my mental health thanked me. Then I found a friend I really loved! Even after she and her family moved, we maintained the friendship. We continued our correspondence and even visits, albeit long-distance. Then, one day a couple of years later, she told me she had finally made other friends and no longer needed me. I admit, it was probably far better than simply ghosting me, but it still hurt.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Ooh I agree, let the toxic friends go. Good for you. But I cannot imagine letting go of a friend due to long distance! Even if we speak less often, I enjoy catching up with friends from far away and trying to see each other once in a while. Thanks so much for sharing Diane!

      Reply
  4. S. N.

    I appreciate reading these comments, it helps me not feel alone in my experiences with friends and the coming and going of friendships. Yes, ghosting hurts especially when the person that does the ghosting was the one who reignited the friendship out of the blue, to just as suddenly drop it? Ouch. I needed to trust my instinct and say no politely, when I was approached out of the blue, and keep the nice memoires I had had from the past instead of now having a remembrance of rejection-ghosting from the present. I needed to realize and trust that the friendships had naturally ended the first time and leave it there, in the past. Ghosting is just cruel. It does make me more grateful for the gently reciprocal friends that I have now, both old and new. What someone does is more often about them and what they are experiencing in life at the moment than it is about the person that was shunned/ghosted/rejected. Even though in the moment it might not feel that way. Practicing forgiveness is something I’m working on.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Ouch indeed! I myself am working on trusting my intuition and practicing forgiveness. I love your point about it being about them, not about us. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

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