Friends Who Ghost You, Why Do They Do It?

Ghosting (leaving someone without explanation) doesn't only occur in romantic relationships. In fact, it's also common among friends. Furthermore. it's just as painful.
Friends Who Ghost You, Why Do They Do It?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 08 November, 2022

Ghosting is an extremely destructive form of aggression, particularly if you find yourself on the receiving end of it. It happens when people suddenly disappear from your life without any form of explanation. In fact, you’re left wondering what’s happened and what you might’ve done to provoke them. That person who you thought you knew and in whom you’d placed all your trust has betrayed you and you don’t even know why.

The term, ghosting, is a new word. However, it actually defines an old practice. Indeed, it’s something that’s always happened, both in emotional and any other kinds of relationships. Nevertheless, nowadays, the ways in which it’s carried out are different. In fact, sometimes it’s even easier for people to do it. Because all they have to do is not to answer any calls or WhatsApp messages.

However, although this is a phenomenon as old as that of human relationships themselves, there’s something that can’t be denied. It’s the fact that some people jump from partner to partner or friendship to friendship as a matter of course. It’s also true that this behavior often proves traumatic for those on the receiving end.

In psychological consultations, victims of ghosting are becoming increasingly frequent. It’s an experience that has a harsh impact on the sufferer’s self-esteem.

girl crying for ghosting friends

Friends who ghost you

It’s said that the “no reply” (the WhatsApp message without the double blue tick) is an obvious answer that someone’s simply not interested in you. However, how can you just suddenly accept this? How can you assume that an apparently good friend who you trusted no longer wants to have anything to do with you?

As a matter of fact, it seems that relationships today sometimes simply dissolve, just like an aspirin in a glass of water. Nevertheless, the pain doesn’t disappear, it intensifies. Furthermore, although it’s true that this experience has become extremely common, the scientific literature on the subject is very recent.

Dartmouth and Roanoke Colleges (USA), conducted a study that attempted to understand why some couples and friends break off from relationships without giving any explanations. The researchers discovered that ghosting is much more common among friends than romantic relationships. This fact doesn’t make the phenomenon any less painful though.

Let’s take a look at the possible causes of ghosting.

Why does ghosting happen?

Ghosting friends are the kinds of people who suddenly leave you in the middle of nowhere without any explanation. Furthermore, you don’t know why they’ve done it and you feel completely lost. How did it happen?

  • First, breaking away from a relationship with no explanation reveals a certain emotional immaturity. Obviously, they weren’t the kind of friend you thought they were. This is something you just have to accept.
  • They have other priorities. Perhaps, for a while, they found your relationship enriching, but maybe there came a time when their interests and tastes completely changed.
  • Another fact could be that there are aspects of you that they didn’t like. Maybe your ideals or your personality were more annoying to them than enriching.
  • Other more significant friendships appear for them. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes, they simply find others with who they get on better, hence they dispense with you. However, they feel uncomfortable and fearful about telling you so they choose to ghost you instead.

On the other hand, sometimes there could be another factor. In fact, your friend may have certain personal problems and their response is to keep their distance from you. This is something that can never be ruled out.

Many people who ghost know that the best thing for them to do would’ve been to be honest and have a conversation. However, the shame and fear of how the other might react makes them opt for the simplest strategy. To disappear and not respond to messages.

Sad man looking at mobile suffering from ghosting friends

How to deal with the disappearance of a friend

The phenomenon of friends ghosting has increased in the aftermath of the pandemic. It’s as if, during this time of separation and isolation, many have chosen to reformulate their relationships, end some of them, and start with a clean slate. This decision is totally acceptable. However, it must be done honestly, and not with silence.

How can you handle these all too common kinds of situations? Here are some ideas:

  • When a friend doesn’t reply to your messages it’s important to make sure that everything’s “okay” with them. Talk to third parties and keep an eye on your friend’s social media. Because the most common thing that happens is to discover that, although they’re not responding to your WhatsApp messages, they continue to upload photos to Instagram or Facebook.
  • Once you become aware that the person doesn’t want to respond to you or have any contact with you, give up. Delete their contact details from your mobile and also from your social media accounts. This is an essential and healthy move for you to make.
  • You also need to remember that someone’s bad behavior doesn’t define your own worth. It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of the person who’s doing the ghosting. They clearly lack both honesty and maturity.

There’s something else that’s obvious here. It’s the fact that it’s extremely difficult to cope with something painful when you don’t understand what it is and why it’s happened. This experience will always stay with you.

However, when you’re in doubt as to why a friend has left you, remember this simple fact. True friends stay. False friends are like leaves that fall from the trees. In the end, the wind takes them away.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Freedman G, Powell DN, Le B, Williams KD. Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2019;36(3):905-924. doi:10.1177/0265407517748791

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.