Ghosting in friendship: why?

Ghosting in friendship: why?

Ghosting (walking out of someone's life without explanation) doesn't just happen in relationships. It is also common in friendship and is equally painful.

Ghosting in friendship: why?

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 21 November 2022

Ghosting is a highly destructive form of aggression for those who suffer it. It occurs above all in the sentimental field, but not only; ghosting in friendship is just as common.

There are people who disappear overnight of their own free will and without giving any kind of explanation. Such an attitude leads one to wonder what happened, what was done to achieve that silence.

That person we thought we knew and in whom we had placed all our trust could betray us without being given to know why. Despite being a modern label, the term ghosting defines an ancient practice.

It has always happened and it affects any connection. Today, however, the mechanisms are different and sometimes it becomes even simpler: just don't answer calls or messages on WhatsApp.

Although it is a phenomenon as ancient as human relations, there is an indisputable and frequent fact. Jumping from partner to partner or friend to friend is common for some people and this in many cases it is experienced in a traumatic way by those who are abandoned.

Many ask for a psychological consultation because they are victims of ghosting. It is an experience with a strong impact on self-esteem.

Ghosting in friendship, a painful experience

It is said that receiving no response is already an obvious response to disinterest in us. However, how to accept it? How to admit that that friend with whom we had bonded so much and whom we trusted no longer wants to know anything about us?

Sometimes relationships seem to dissolve like aspirin in a glass of water. Only the pain, instead of disappearing, intensifies.

Although it is true that in recent years this experience has occurred almost on the agenda, the scientific literature on this subject is quite recent.

An example of this is the study carried out by Dartmouth College in Hanover and by Roanoke College in Salem, which constitutes a first attempt to understand why some partners and friends sever relationships without giving explanations.

It seems to be evident that the ghosting in friendship is much more common. This, however, doesn't make it any less painful. Let's now analyze the possible causes that orchestrate this phenomenon.

What is the cause of this inexplicable disappearance?

Whoever disappears is a person who abandons without giving explanations. We don't know what caused this behavior, but we feel lost. How did we come to this situation?

  • Leaving a relationship without giving an explanation reveals a certain immaturity. We have to accept that we actually didn't really know the person.
  • The priorities of these individuals are different. It is possible that for a while that friendship was fulfilling for them, but at some point their interests and tastes change radically.
  • Another obvious fact is that there are aspects of us that are not to their liking. Perhaps our ideals or our personalities were more annoying than enriching.
  • More important friends appear. Sometimes you can get to know other people with whom we have a greater connection. Discomfort or fear of being honest about it causes many to ghost.
  • The ghosting friend could have personal problems of any nature and his answer is to walk away. We cannot rule out this possibility.

Often those who ghost with a friend know that they should have been honest and have a conversation with the other person. However, the shame and fear of possible reactions leads us to opt for the simplest strategy: to disappear and not respond to messages.

How to deal with ghosting in friendship?

Friendship ghosting has increased following the pandemic. It is as if during this period of separation and isolation many have chosen to reformulate their relationships, remove the ballast or make a clean sweep.

As such, this decision is entirely legitimate, but it must be done correctly, honestly and not opting for silence. How can we handle these situations? Since it is common to undergo this experience, let's see some strategies:

  • When a friend isn't replying to messages, it's important to make sure everything is okay. Talk to mutual friends and keep an eye on social networks (if you have one). The most common thing is to find that, although it does not respond on WhatsApp, it continues to upload photos to Instagram or Facebook.
  • When you have realized that the person does not want to answer you or have contact with you, give up. Delete his number and delete him from social networks. It is a very necessary and healthy first step.
  • Keep in mind that the conduct of others does not define our worth. The fault is not ours, but of the person who is ghosting, whose immaturity and dishonesty is evident.


It is very difficult to deal with abandonment, especially when the reasons for it are ignored. This experience will accompany us forever.

However, when in doubt as to why that friend has left us, we can only answer: true friends remain, false friends are similar to the leaves of trees, they fall in the wind of adversity like leaves in the breath of winter.

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