In my late 20s, I was ghosted by one of my closest friends.
We met in college and began drifting apart after graduation. He moved to the Midwest for grad school; I stayed in New York, but we visited when our circumstances and budgets allowed, and emailed — frequently at first, then less often. I have tried not to dwell too much on the time when our relationship ended, but I recently dug up my last email to him from 12 years ago: “I’m putting this out there as a final attempt to be in touch,” I wrote in a note that makes me feel a combination of heartache and embarrassment, even now. “I hope we can reconnect.”
He never responded, and I never tried again. It felt an awful lot like being dumped.
Ghosting — when someone unilaterally cuts off communication without warning or explanation — has become a seemingly inescapable part of the modern dating scene, but we pay far less attention to it as a phenomenon between friends.
Yet research suggests that experiences like mine are pretty common. In one study from 2018, 39 percent of the participants said they’d been ghosted by a friend. And a study published earlier this year found that people often feel just as hurt after being ghosted by a friend as they do after being ghosted by a romantic partner.
“With ghosting, we know that there are four fundamental needs that get threatened,” explained Gili Freedman, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland who was an author of the 2018 study: “Your sense of belonging, your sense of meaningful existence — that you have a place in the world, and that place is meaningful — your sense of control and your self-esteem.”
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