Tell Me About It: Friend’s inability to make plans feels like ghosting

Published October 17

Q: A former co-worker/friend moved about an hour away several years ago. We were close, texting, talking multiple times a day. Once she moved, that slowed down to a meal a couple times a year and intermittent texts/calls.

Since last year, I have been the one to text, and every time she tells me she misses me and suggests dates we should get together. Each time I reply which date I would be available, she never texts me back.

After trying three times Iíve pretty much decided the friendship has run its course, but Iím still really hurt over this. If she doesnít want to get together, why keep suggesting it and then ghosting me?

Ghosted

A: I donít know. Itís possible she really does want to see you but the making-of-plans-plus-an-hour-of-travel hurdle is a quarter-inch taller than the height sheís willing to jump for you.

Itís kind of cold to spell it out this way, I realize, but itís actually a few degrees warmer than your ghosting suggestion ó which implies intent to avoid where my version is more an intent to visit that gets overwhelmed by logistics.

Itís actually, I think, in the same vein as some of the other etiquette ills that are spiking lately, like not RSVPing to things or not sending thank-yous for gifts. I think our collective radar is shrinking fast, to the point where the only things typical people typically notice on it are the ones immediate to daily life.

Isnít socializing while far apart a relatively new thing for humans? Can we pull that off against a villagey nature as our attention spans are in freefall?

Wouldnít you hang out regularly if she lived next door?

In the meantime, I urge anyone on the wrong end of this phenomenon to find all possible ways not to take it personally.

In this case, I also suggest just being straight with your friend, without anger: When she suggests a date next time, donít text back, but call her instead. "Are you serious about May 5? ĎCause Iím in. And I donít want this to die by text."

Villagey: Sometimes I think if I could un-move 3,000 miles from my family, I would. But Iíve built a life I love here. I donít know how to reconcile this ó other than sometimes acquiescing to the sadness at not being near some folks I love best, and traveling as I can to see them. Itís a balancing act, one Iím not sure Iíve mastered.

Carolyn: If perfect is the enemy of the good, maybe mastery is, too? I donít know. I donít think local bonds are a rejection of loved ones elsewhere, but instead an embrace of connection. We want to feel rooted where we are.

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