Some of my most viewed posts on the website concern being cut off by long-term friends. Plenty of people come to me for advice on how to deal with friends cutting them off.
While I don’t condone ghosting or cutting someone off at all – it’s rude at the least and incredibly emotionally traumatic at worst. The lack of closure and real understanding as to why we were cut off can torment us for a long time.
There are many reasons why someone can cut another off and this post wouldn’t give justice to all the reasons available.
What was interesting to me was that in my work – the one being ghosted was always perplexed and did not really know the reason whereas the one who did the ghosting always knew why they had to ghost their friend.
It’s fascinating because it just shows how two people in the same friendship can see things so differently.
Having spoken about why people ghost others, today I’d like to flip the coin and explore why people get ghosted.
Have I ghosted friends before?
It wasn’t done out of spite, or to feel powerful or in control of the situation or the friendship. I did it after the person had shown incredibly disrespectful behaviour, there was too much hostility and conflict where it was difficult to talk things through for whatever reason or repeated communications about boundaries wasn’t getting through.
Caveat to say that I’m not condoning cutting off or ghosting with no explanation, but I do understand why it is necessary in some situations, and this post will be focusing on those situations.
Onto some of my reasons:
#1 Disrespectful, rude behaviour (and being unapologetic about it)
This is self-explanatory. Nobody likes a rude, disrespectful person. And what falls into this category? Simple. Anything that you define as disrespectful and rude.
My picks – making someone wait for hours on end for you – and not apologizing at all, lecturing people on how to lead their lives or how to think, picking fights or getting aggressive with others for no reason, treating wait staff rudely.
#2 Conflict-causing and dramatic people
There are just some people out there who are attracted to constant drama. It’s like they are unable to have a peaceful, quiet friendship. Their friendships (and probably romances) have to be characterised by emotional ups and downs and lots of drama for it to qualify as a proper friendship to them.
It could be tied to their childhood experiences, their attachment styles to their parents and imitating how they parents behaved around one another.
I’ve found that when people are exposed to dramatic adult relationships in their childhood, it becomes imprinted on them as a relationship pattern – which feels familiar to them and which they will seek to repeat in adulthood.
These relationship patterns are usually unconscious and the individual isn’t aware of it.
While I can understand the origins of it, I’m not as tolerant of it. I value friendships which are characterised by emotional stability. Having a friend constantly pick fights with me, start conflicts over small shit and where I constantly have to figure out their moods and adjust myself accordingly is way too tiring and too much of an emotional investment for me.
Struggling to attract and select the right friendships?
Signs that someone makes a dramatic, conflict-seeking friend:
- They are constantly having issues in other friendships, constant complaints of how other people are this way and that
- They tend to react very emotionally and dramatically to interpersonal issues instead of resorting to being calm and collaborative
- They more often than not pick on very “small” issues, magnify them and get very fussy about it. Things that usually most people will overlook for the sake of friendship and the understanding that nobody is without flaws
- Poor conflict management. Most people shy away from conflict, but they go right at it and take it out on whoever they see as the “perpetrator”. In fact, playing victim could be very common with this group of people and they react by seeing it as their “right” to “be honest” (read: rude, having no regard for others’ feelings) and very justified to their anger, seeing the other party as “deserving” of their bad moods
- There is very little self-awareness or self-reflection of one’s behaviour. The problems they have in their lives are always due to someone else, never them
#3 Self-centred, self-absorbed, attention-seeking narcissistic behaviour
I’ve talked about conversational narcissists – people who dominate the convesation talking all about themselves, and never knowing when stop. Emotional dumpers also come under this section. I had to cut off someone recently who was constantly sending me lengthy, multiple texts – I’m talking about like 50 WhatsApp chats – droning on about the most banal stuff. Read – her daily activities, what she ate, the journey from her home to the mall, what she bought etc.
Telling her in different ways that I really didn’t appreciate the texts – that reading them added very little to my day, and it was tiring and draining to go through all of them – didn’t get through to her. And when I “put her on read”, she interpreted my silence as my need to “have some quiet time to myself”, and not that I was annoyed by her.
These people have very poor boundaries, let alone know what they are. And if they are constantly appearing in your life, it also shows that you have quite poor boundaries yourself.
You need to be clear on what behaviour you are willing to accept, what you are not and drawn a line between them. Anyone that steps over those lines are not going to be welcomed into your inner circle.
Let’s stop putting up with behaviour that we cannot tolerate. This people-pleasing, let’s-make-others-happy-but-not-me behaviour patterns we’ve been carrying around also need to go.
Remember that people cannot dump on you, talk your ear off or do anything you don’t want them to if you are sure about the boundaries and know where to draw the line.
#4 Zero self-awareness, defensive with little desire to take any feedback
Some of the most challenging friendships I had in the past were with people who were not self-aware at all. They had no clue how they came across to people and didn’t bother to find out.
If people were nice enough to give them constructive feedback, they would find a way to explain away their behaviour, become defensive, blame it on others and be completely unwilling to take responsibility. This could even mean turning around to gaslight you – blaming you for the issue that you have with them.
You thought they were aggressive? Oh no they never were never being aggressive, and it’s only you who seems to take issue with it, no one else in their life does! (true story #1)
You told them you found their interactions with you draining and made you feel burdened? Oh you must be tired, you need some rest! After your period of rest, you will feel ready to interact with them again (true story #2)
You thought they were being very selfish? Oh no, it’s your fault. Who told you to talk to them like that? Who told you to start talking about that topic? (true stories #3 & #4).
Anytime someone you’ve been hanging out with refuses to take responsibility for their bad behaviour and instead flips it on you and makes you the “bad guy”, or refuses to take any form of feedback because they couldn’t have any flaws – it’s time to reconsider the relationship.
It can be difficult to recognise we are the toxic ones
Admitting to ourselves that we are the toxic one in the friendship can be incredibly difficult. It’s difficult for us to be honest to ourselves and admit that we are sometimes the reason why people have no choice to cut us off. Because – we can’t be that awful? And we aren’t a bad person! Even so, we don’t deserve to be left in the cold with no explanation whatsoever!
But yes. Sometimes, we aren’t a very good person in friendships. Sometimes, we weren’t a very good friend. Whatever it is that we’ve done, it’s time to turn things around and re-examine how we are as people and how we behave in friendships.
It’s okay to not be okay with being ghosted/cut off, but let’s accept that some of them saw little alternatives
Again, I’d like to re-iterate that I am not condoning ghosting or cutting someone off forever. It’s hurtful and painful; traumatic even. And the complete lack of closure that being ghosted/cut off with no reason brings with it a dissatisfaction which can leave the mind very unsettled.
This is the reason why you will always remember the person who cut you off, and your mind will constantly ruminate over the reasons, combing through every slight hint or evidence.
At the same time, having been on the other side of the fence, sometimes a cut off is necessary, especially if I’ve been communicating my boundaries and voicing my displeasure… yet. I’m ignored in return, gaslighted and subject to lots of unacceptable behaviour.
Whilst communication can help, I’ve found that many a time, people don’t handle these sort of “talks” very well and they don’t react in ways that we’d like them to. In my personal experience, some have reacted in a hostile manner or denied everything, which made it difficult to even engage in any honest discussions.
Friendships are like romance. Just like a couple – if 2 friends are unable to even have an open, honest discussion about boundaries, how to act around one another and respect each other’s needs, it can be a difficult to continue functioning in a loving, respectful, caring friendship.