What's worse, doing it or having it done to you?
Since it’s such a spooky time of year, let’s talk friend-ghosting.
For me, there are two varieties of being ghosted: one is by friends who always cancel, and in that case, I’m often a little relieved because my default setting is home, not out. I don’t take it personally. The other kind is a very specific Chicago variety in the arts/entertainment world, where someone you know becomes famous and successful and they stop getting back to you. For some reason that one burns more: even though I’ve never enjoyed ghosting others (it happens), I imagine that when I’m getting ghosted by someone whose star is rising, they love it, like the only reason they ever did anything professionally was in order to make me feel small. I realize that this is ridiculous. In fact, in a Chicago-y way I think deep down I love feeling mad about it. If I just felt good about everything, I’d probably never get anything done.
A witch wrote in:
“My husband and I were ghosted by two couples, one childfree, one not, when we had a baby. One ghosting was an eyeroller once I stopped feeling jealous of their childless life. The other really hurt and still hurts me today. I didn't realize I was getting ghosted by the couple with kids. I just thought that they were being flaky and maybe that was because they were so busy. It’s only now that I'm in the process of ghosting a woman who has been trying to be couple friends with us have I realized that we were ghosted by people we thought we were close to.
So, what is the best way to handle ghosting and being ghosted? This woman who has been trying to make a friendship with me happen is really nice. But her husband is extraordinarily hard to have a conversation with. I'm at capacity for scheduling things with this person who takes a lot of effort to spend time with (emotionally and practically). I am not keeping up with the friends I already have and want to spend more time with.
On the other hand, how do you know when you've been ghosted? Like, I understand that other people are busy with family and work, but how do I know when to stop trying to schedule something with someone?”
Here are how other witches handle being ghosts and ghostees:
I have been ghosted by friends and I have also ghosted friends. Part of it is that I'm usually the initiator. There are some friends that I started to feel like unless I initiated, we didn't see them. So I stepped back, waiting for them to step up and make plans. And it didn't happen. I am sure they would say that I ghosted them, and I don't think they would look at it the other way. I feel bad because it wasn't intentional or mean-spirited, but I can only be the Cruise Ship Director so much, you know?
We got ghosted after my husband got in some trouble. We asked friends for help and they did. We then had to put our heads down and work on our family and they got super pissed that we didn't contact them for a while. We realized we were on their shit list when her sister sent us a holiday card as always and our friends did not. It really pissed me off that they were so selfish to not realize our family was falling apart and it didn't concern them.
I did my first ghosting not long after I went through a really bad friend fight/breakup in my late 20s. I was getting close with this woman I knew from high school and there were many red flags going up w/r/t her personality and mental health. A lot of her stories involved her getting into some yelling altercation with some bitch at a public space like a grocery store parking lot. I was like "You know, I just went through one toxic friendship, I can't deal with this." I pulled back slowly but she didn't get the hint so I just stopped responding. I'm sure she thinks I'm a bitch. But it was the right call, no regrets.
I was ghosted by my two best friends when I had PPD and PPA. I went nuts and they were both childless and didn’t understand. One wanted to be married and have a baby and didn’t get why I wasn’t happy with what she desperately wanted. But I’ve been so, so, so lucky that no one ghosted me after I went public with the fact that I was struggling with a pill addiction. That was a big fear of mine.
My policy with "Is it ghosting or are they just really busy?" is that after one or two invites I give up. But will still include in big group things where their absence won't be noticed. I have 1 spare ticket to the ballet? Not calling! But you can still come to my holiday eggnog party which is a massive free-for-all.
One of the byproducts of my childhood trauma is that I keep people at a distance. I'm honest and caring but I don't really get all that riled about relationships dying out, whether I initiated it or not. I didn't realize I was like this until one of my best friends from college complained about me not calling her enough. Some of it was overblown, but some of it was not. I would never say I'm not invested in people, but I've structured this way of being that makes me feel rather self-contained so I'm not bothered by being ghosted. I'm also notoriously A LOT for some people to take.
With a kid, career, marriage and the rest, I don't have the emotional or mental bandwidth for anyone who can't just be OK with picking up where we left off, whether it was yesterday or last year or 10 years ago. If you need more of me, I probably just can't be that for you.
There are very few people in my life other than family that I think it should take lots of work to have a relationship with. One good friend from my early agency years was younger than me, married a much older dude who was rich and that sort of started where our paths went in different directions. When it really came to a head was after we had kids. She hosted a baby shower for me with my sister and a few friends and she got in a HUGE fight with them about money. I gave it a shot with her for a bit after that but work and new baby and stressed marriage was all I could handle and I just ghosted her. I chalked it up to, she was in a very different what I felt was pretty superficial and competitive circle in the city and I was struggling in the suburbs and it just ended. And I don’t really miss her.
After having just taken the task of breaking up with a friend in person, I better understand why women choose to ghost. It’s emotionally draining to break up with a friend when it’s just not working out. With ghosting... you just fade away.
I haven't spoken to my matron of honor since the day after my wedding. She acted like a total brat from the moment she arrived in town, and I kept paying for things to overcompensate for my own visible stress. I paid for fancy manicures, fancy cocktails, I gave her our apartment to stay in on our wedding night. I tried SO hard to accommodate her, and then she wound up getting wasted and acting like a total bitch at the wedding. The next day I felt guilty (somehow), so I sent her a text at 8am saying I would "make it up to her" and apologized for being so overwhelmed. She didn't respond. Two months later, in the middle of moving, I received a long email from her laying out precisely why I sucked. I never replied. A year after that, she DM'd me on IG and said we should "talk." I didn't reply. Now she ‘likes’ my husband's occasional pictures of our kid and I really don't know why. I never look at our wedding photos because she's in so many of them. It makes me sad but ghosting her was my only defense mechanism. I talked about it in therapy but I'm still not over it. Lack of closure is hard, but what would be the point of re-engaging?
Anyone who thinks they need to send an earnest "I miss you" email is probably being ghosted with good reason.
I hope you enjoyed today’s issue of Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. If you’re feeling super witchy this week, please consider becoming a paying subscriber to support the work (and get extra member-only content!)
If you’re interested in writing a guest post, have a suggested topic or have any general questions or you can reply right to this newsletter. You can also follow us on Instagram and have witchy conversations on Twitter too.