Let’s start with a story:
Jeanne, Rach & Serene were tight friends. They’ve been in the same clique since they were 13 and remained close through middle school, high school and university, though each of them went to colleges in different states. Things seemed happy, fun and normal until they all graduated, started ‘adult’-ing and having their own careers. When they met up, it seemed fun still, but something was missing, some old spark. They would go months without really hanging out or talking much to each other. One day, Rach got married. She didn’t invite either friend as it was a simple celebration with family. But from that day on, things started to change in their friendship – massively. Jeanne stopped replying hers or Serene’s texts. Invitations to hang out were met with complete silence, “put on read” and gradually completely ignored.
This was an issue a client had recently. And sadly, it’s not uncommon.
I’ve heard/read tonnes of stories like that in my DMs, client sessions and in my inbox. And from what I’m reading, the friendship world doesn’t look too cheery.
It seems as if people these days have no idea how to make friends, maintain/nurture friendships, select the right people for friends, or how to talk about their feelings and deal with conflict. Alot of differences between people are dealt with people cutting off each other abruptly, ghosting one another or doing the gradual “fade-out” of someone’s life.
Ghosting has become SO COMMON in this day and age, that everyone you know – and maybe even you yourself, gentle reader, would have encountered it from a friend or a potential date.
It is incredibly hard to get over someone ghosting you or cutting you off
Yup, it absolutely is. Imagine being friends with and sharing your entire life – your ups and downs with each other and then one day poof – the person just falls out of your life and seemingly off the face of this earth.
You see them posting on social media, meeting up with other people and going about their lives like nothing happened, but your texts stay unread and there’s no communication or explanation.
Are you selecting the right friends to share your life with? Find out in the quiz below!
It hurts like hell. Science has found that losing a bond – friendship or otherwise – is akin to physical pain. Which is why it can feel so incredibly painful and devastating when a friend disappears from your life.
Know that it’s normal to feel the pain and it’s your way of processing the loss. Yes, a friend falling out of your life is a loss – one that usually has little to no closure. So loss has to be grieved in order for it to be properly healed.
Why does ghosting and cutting off happen in friendships?
As I’ve talked about in previous posts when you face long-term friends cutting you off and how to deal with them all, there may be different reasons for why friends ghost you or cut you off. Sometimes, you may be able to pinpoint a reason, other times.. it’s not so clear. Here are some reasons:
Sometimes, a simple misunderstanding can lead to a bigger conflict. And if there are underlying things that have to do with the ego, pride, lack of communication etc – it can very easily lead to the ending of a friendship. Some misunderstandings or quarrels are actually a sign that things have been heading south for a while.
#2 Build-up of past resentment
#3 Life changes
People grow and change, and sometimes their friendships grow in different directions. I’ve come to realise that some friends stay with you through some situations in life, are there for you in certain phases or seasons and then slowly they drop out of your life.
I’ve had friends come into my life, drift apart, we “find” each other again months/years later only to drift again. It’s simply the ebb and flow of life, and not something to take personally (though I know, easier said than done!).
#4 Toxic behaviour
In some cases, a friend’s behavior might be hurtful or unhealthy, leading to the need to distance yourself. I’ve had to put some distance between myself and “friends” who were condescending and emotionally dumping on me, friends who clearly aren’t interested in anyone but themselves and friends who just weren’t there for me in hard times.
#5 Emotional immaturity
Many times, friendships actually come to an end because one or both parties were not mature enough to handle the friction that came about in the relationship or were unable to see beyond their own point of view.
In any kind of relationship, it takes – at times – being the bigger person and allowing the person to have their way, but if you aren’t very self-aware or only see things from your point of view, it can be hard to form a close, intimate relationship with someone else.
Emotional immaturity is usually why some people are just difficult to be friends with and explains why some friendships have so much of volatility and drama within them.
#6 Inability to deal with conflict
In many friendships/relationships, conflict is normal. You have two or more people trying to lead a life together, trying to get along and spend time together, people from completely different backgrounds. Conflict will happen.
The thing that differentiates great friendships that are rare, from other friendships is that when two people treasure their dynamic and want the best for the other, they will work together to overcome it. It takes alot of maturity though (see point 5) and just wanting things to work. But people tend to be bad at managing conflict, we were never taught!
Many friendships die that way.
#7 Inability to communicate
The biggest culprit about so many things that go wrong in friendships. Honestly what is communication? Communication isn’t just talking, or sending pictures of your day or texting or having superficial conversations about what you had for breakfast. Though all those are also a part of communication – a very small part.
Communication is about rapport, trust, respect, care, love. For instance, would you swear or use vulgarities on someone you love/respect/care about? Probably not.
Would you ghost or cut off someone with no explanation (barring certain situations) and leave them wondering what on earth happened? Most likely not. So in order to have better friends/friendships, communication really is key.
How to Handle the Situation
There are some ways in which you could handle each type of situation, these are just some ideas and aren’t exhaustive:
- Ghosting: If a friend ghosts you, it’s okay to reach out once to see if everything is okay. However, if they continue to ignore you, it’s best to move on. Keeping on trying to interact with someone who is not responding is usually not worth the time or energy, no matter how much history you had together.
- Conflicts: If you have a conflict with a friend, try to communicate openly and honestly. Listen to their perspective and try to find common ground. If communication is impossible, it might be time to take a break from the friendship.
- Cutting you off: If a friend cuts you off for no apparent reason, it can be difficult to know what to do. Try to reach out once to see if they’re willing to talk. If not, give them space and focus on your other relationships.
Focusing on the self
The above is my Re.Live Model for attracting better friends and is something that I use with many clients and even with friends.
What is the common denominator for all our friendships? Us. You.
So if you are seeing certain patterns turn up in your friendships, it’s a sign that the issue could lie with you. This is something that many people find difficult to swallow at times, but when you are showing up in friendships – unsure of what you are looking for in a friend, unsure of your values, kicking up a fuss when something doesn’t go your way – in a certain way, then friendships will always be an area of turmoil for you.
Much of the time, it has something to do with the way we go about looking for friends and who we allow into our life as friends. Many of us don’t actually vet our friends – for common values, friendship goals, expectations and so on, we are too focused on having a good time. You can have a good time with anybody but long-term friendships with genuine love, care, respect and trust are hard to come by, and hard to replace.
But everything begins with the Self. If you know yourself well, you will instinctively know who feels like a friend and who doesn’t.
Understanding that friendships have seasons
It can be hard to grasp at times, but the majority of the friendships we have won’t last til our later years. Things happen, life happens, people change.
It’s okay – each friendship big or small, beautiful or less so leaves an imprint in our lives and teaches us something about people, shapes who we are. So, hold each friendship gently, as if it were a butterfly. Enjoy the times that you share together, have as much fun as you can, be as vulnerable as you can.
If it leaves, let it go. If it stays, treasure it.