How to Get Over Being Ghosted

By Marisa Cohen
June 22, 2023

Ghosting can take many forms. Maybe you go out on a first date and think you hit it off—there was an actual buzz in the air when you realized you loved the same obscure band. But when you text to make follow-up plans…crickets. Or you plan to meet up with a friend of a friend who works in a field you’re interested in, and then they suddenly cut short your previously friendly DM exchange.

But the worst form of ghosting is the kind that truly blindsides you: when a close friend suddenly stops responding to your texts and won’t answer your calls. You rack your brain trying to think of what you may have said or done that could have offended them, but you can’t think of anything. It just doesn’t make sense.

Ghosting can be excruciating, but it's also very common. One study of 747 people found that 39% had been ghosted by a friend, and 32% admitted that they had been guilty themselves of ghosting.

Why Being Ghosted Feels So Bad

While the term “ghosting” arrived with the advent of social media and smartphones, the idea of having a friend suddenly disappear from your life, with no explanation or obvious reason, is a tale as old as time.

“It's always been the case that people tend to avoid actively ending their friendships,” says Beverley Fehr, Ph.D., a professor of social psychology at the University of Winnipeg, in Canada. “Unless there's a major breach of trust or act of disloyalty, people are less likely to break up with their friends than they are to, very passively, let the friendship wither on the vine.”

Which is to say, they just may not be into you anymore.

Now, that can be a bitter pill to swallow for anyone—especially since you can’t exactly get closure if they won’t answer your texts. “Research tells us that when something is going wrong in a romantic relationship, people tend to want to talk it over and resolve it,” Fehr says. “But when a friendship ends, it can be very murky and unclear. You’re essentially left dangling with no resolution.”

How to Deal with Ghosting

If you’ve been ghosted, here’s what you should know:

Take a Few Weeks to Let It Play Out

Things happen: People have medical emergencies or work issues to deal with, elderly parents, young kids, or needy pets to tend to, so it can sometimes be challenging to know whether someone is deliberately not getting back to you or something else is going on with them, Fehr says. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt the first time you see that your text has been read but has no response. Try again, and then wait a day or two, and consider picking up the phone.

But after, say, three attempts to get in touch, it’s time to back off. “If you’ve made a couple of overtures and you’re not hearing anything back, it may be a sign the person is moving on from the friendship,” Fehr says.

Be Gracious in Your Goodbye

If you want closure, you can provide it yourself, suggests Laura Whitney Sniderman, M.A., a coach and founder of the friendship app Kinnd. “You can always send a final thoughtful message, based in curiosity versus accusation,” she says. “Be curious about what’s going on with them, and understanding as to why they might not be responding. Express your appreciation for the connection and be vulnerable in sharing why.”

You can end your note with this simple thought: “I’ve always valued our friendship and would love to hear from you when you're ready to be in touch again.”

Don’t Go Down the Social Media Rabbit Hole

Constantly checking your former friend’s Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook pages to see whom they’re hanging out with now that they’ve ditched you will only prolong your misery, Fehr says.

She does say, however, that it’s fine to see whether they have unfollowed or unfriended you. “At least that removes the question mark and the ambiguity, and you can move on,” she says. At that point, it’s a good idea to remove them from all your social media, as well, so you don’t dwell on your loss.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

“Rejection is really painful, and it will always deal a blow to our self-esteem and self-worth,” says Fehr, who points out that, from social psychology experiments, we know that people have a pronounced negative reaction even when they’re rejected by someone they’ve only just met in a lab experiment. Lean on the friends who have been there for you in the past. And remember that a friend breakup can be as painful as a romantic one, and deserves the same amount of self-care and support.

Remember Your Worth

While this friendship may have been important to you, it’s just one facet of your life. “It's important to step back and remind yourself that this is just one part of your life where things haven't gone the way you wanted, but you have other people who love you, and there are other areas in your life where you're valued, where you're contributing, and your efforts are appreciated,” Fehr says. It can even help to write down a list of these things, she adds.

Once you take care of yourself, you can be sure you won’t be haunted forever.

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