Ask Elaine: Can I repair a 50-year friendship after she ghosted me?

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Hello Elaine: I had a 50-year friendship that ended abruptly, even though my ex-friend had often said she hoped we could be friends forever and felt like we were sisters. The breakup, which ended with her ghosting, was because she said, “You always criticize me.” I didn’t think I’d ever done it, but I asked him for an example. She refused.

We continued as usual, but his comment bothered me, so I asked him again for an example. She ghosted back. Does this happen frequently? I wrote to her to express my sadness about how things ended, but she gave me no response. Anything else to do? We met in college.

Ghost : I’m sorry you’re going through this. I don’t know how often this happens, but as someone who has been on both sides of this scenario, I know it’s often more complicated than it first appears. And it can be extremely painful, no matter what role you play. Especially when you’ve made an honest effort to better understand where things went wrong so you can repair the damage.

As banal as it may seem, I encourage you to look for what this situation can teach you. There are always lessons in pain, for both parties, if you look for them. Once, after a friendship breakup left me reeling, I was so heartbroken that I resorted to speaking with a psychic (don’t judge me!) who helped me to see that I would grow exponentially more through this glorious friendship and its devastating breakup than I did. would do it from friendship alone. Both were meant to be. And both taught my former friend and me vital lessons that will stay with us. It helped me embrace the good with the bad, let go of the urge to fix what was invariably broken, and remember that even painful endings can happen. For you, not has You.

Now, we don’t know if this is actually the end for you and your old friend. Sometimes people just need time to think remotely before they feel ready to confront a problem. It may seem easier for some people to disappear for a while rather than communicate directly when they are upset. Is this the most mature or loving way to handle conflict? No of course not. But people are imperfect, and if we love them, we must accept them, flaws and all.

Speaking of which, have you taken a step back to really take stock of your own flaws and how they may have shown up in your friendship? What are the difficult aspects of your personality that she could move away from? Rather than putting the onus on her to provide examples that justify her hurt feelings, can you admit that her expressing hurt feelings to you is reason enough to apologize and reflect on your role in this matter? In the absence of immediate or direct responses from your ex-friend, it is important that you think more deeply about why she felt criticized by you. Are you self-critical or critical of others? Does this come through in your words or actions? Sit with yourself and these questions; journal about what is happening.

While you work on yourself, you need to make peace by letting her go and loving her from afar – at least for now. While it’s impossible not to take something like this personally, it’s helpful to zoom out to contextualize this experience a little. You said you’ve known each other since college. Have you ever noticed a pattern of avoidance in other areas of his life? How did she handle conflicts with others? Is ghosting a trait that surprises you or are you just surprised that she could ghost you – someone she said she loved like a sister? Was your connection strained in any other way before this breakup?

Do you have a question for Elaine? Submit it here.

After taking inventory of all of this, does this friendship seem in line with your current situation and your expectations in terms of friendship? Is this a friendship you still sincerely want to invest in? Or are you more interested in closing? It is important that you are clear on these issues.

For now, give it time. You can’t control what happens next with this friendship. The only person you can control in this situation is yourself. Focus your energy on being more mindful of your words in the future to preserve other important relationships in your life. My husband says that in almost every interaction there is an opportunity to build someone up or tear them down. You may not realize the impact your words have on people until it’s too late.

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