Standing in a hotel robe with wet hair, I sent Amy* what would be my last message to her. After months of silence, I couldn’t handle the uncertainty anymore. I was on a family vacation in Massachusetts, but I couldn’t stop thinking about our friendship possibly being over.
Thanks to Facebook’s ingenuity, I could see she read my unanswered messages. It stung, but I continued to type:
…I’m not sure what’s going on in your life [at] the moment but I wanted to let you know that I still care about you… I’m frankly uncertain whether you want to hear from me. Maybe you don’t and I’ll respect that choice… I really hope our friendship doesn’t end because of graduation. If I’ve done or said anything wrong, I apologize for my obliviousness… I hope everything is okay. Even if it’s not, perhaps I can treat you to a drink and make some inappropriate jokes about whatever is troubling you.
She read it but never replied. That was nearly two years ago and I still haven’t heard back. Amy ghosted me.
I had heard horror stories about “ghosting,” the cowardly act of cutting off all communication with someone you’re dating rather than biting the bullet and breaking up. Too many of my friends were ghosted by people they had been seeing for weeks or even months, and were left confused and devastated. Despite my rocky love life, I had never been ghosted, and Amy blindsided me.
I still wonder why she shut me out after college graduation. Not a single email, call, text, Facebook message. It would have easy enough to let our friendship fade rather than stonewall me.
Maybe it’s fitting that our whirlwind friendship ended as quickly as it began. Amy and I met in the fall of our senior year. A mutual friend thought we would get along and invited us to a dorm party. She and I spent the night comforting our friend as she simultaneously threw up in a toilet and had a panic attack. Not exactly the most charming meet-cute, but it worked.
After winter break, we spent afternoons together in cafes, pretending to work on our theses while we chatted. Soon enough, we became the best of friends. We met each other’s parents, celebrated Valentine’s Day and made a snow woman named after Betty Friedan. We even spent spring break together in Miami where we got henna tattoos, went to a nude beach and waxed poetic over big cocktails with tiny umbrellas.
Amy and I were both neurotic writers, uncertain of the big blank future after graduation, but we found comfort in each other and sharing UNO pizzas. And yes, we told each other our hopes and dreams and embarrassing secrets. We joked about being practically engaged and honestly we did all but go to IKEA together.
My friends still ask me about Amy. “That’s so weird. I still don’t get it.” I half-smile and shrug. I don’t either and I’ve spent a long time trying to read the smoke signals.
I haven’t solved the mystery, but there are some clues. We had a lot in common except when it came to men. A hopeless romantic, I dated a string of emotionally unavailable guys in college. Amy, on the other hand, was a virgin who had never been in a relationship. If she was jealous or fed up, she never told me, but perhaps that was why. Before Amy ghosted, I was in an on-and-off relationship. When I told her we broke up, she texted back, “I honestly didn’t think you were still together…”
That was the last thing she ever said to me. After seven months of friendship, Amy disappeared. In the two months after she went AWOL, she didn’t respect me enough to respond to my half-dozen messages, emails and phone calls.
I assumed that Amy hated me for something I had done or said, and maybe that’s the truth. But ghosting isn’t really about hate. Hate means angry emails and drunk texts. Silence says, “Answering your messages isn’t worth my time. I don’t care how you feel when I ignore your calls.”
Amy once told me that her female friends were fickle or even cruel. Her mother thanked me for being such a good friend to her daughter because so many girls had wronged her. I thought little of it at the time, but it’s like when a guy calls his ex-girlfriends “crazy bitches.” I only ever heard Amy’s side of the story, but maybe she was the guilty party.
That same mother who tearfully thanked me for treating her daughter so well didn’t even respond to my phone call asking if Amy was okay. I can’t imagine Amy didn’t expect me to be hurt after she shut me out, but she just didn’t care. It was easier for her to deny me closure and leave me confused. I wasn’t even worth typing a text.
Maybe two months of reaching out doesn’t seem like a long time, but after seven months of constant communication, Amy’s message was clear: We are over. I’m glad I gave up after two months because it’s been two years and she is still silent.
Being ghosted still hurts, but I don’t blame myself anymore. I reached out to her. We weren’t engaged, but we were close enough to talk about our problems and our friendship was worth fighting for.
That indifference is what makes ghosting the worst way to end a relationship, platonic or otherwise. When someone is just a text, phone call or email away, it makes you feel small, worthless and confused.
I don’t know what she says when people ask her about me. Maybe she says, “We lost touch,” or, “I’m not friends with that crazy bitch anymore.”
In order to move on, I had to cut her off too. I blocked her on Facebook because even though she ghosted me, she is still very much alive. She could contact me if she wanted and I could reach out again, but neither of us does. I wish her well, but I don’t want to know about the life she is leading without me.
Would I forgive her if she came back? It’s been two years, but we’re still young. We’re only separated by the Long Island Sound. I would love to have true closure, but I don’t think we could get back together. We’ll always have Miami, but she no longer has my trust.
*Name has been changed