The Pros And Cons Of Unghosting A Former Friend

Ghosting has become a normalized term in the modern dating game, referring to the act of disappearing without a trace from the life of someone you were actively courting (via Dictionary). Ghosting has always existed in the platonic world as well. If you've walked away from a friendship without officially ending it, you might be carrying around some guilt over the way you handled it. From time to time, this guilt might have you wondering if you should reach out and unghost this friend.


Before you rekindle a friendship that you ended through ghosting, it's important to acknowledge your intentions and all the possible outcomes of the scenario. What if your friend isn't receptive to your return? What if you were right to have ended the friendship in the first place? Here are the potential pros and cons you should consider before you attempt to unghost a friend. 

Making amends

If you had a real friendship with the person you ended up ghosting, you probably cared about them and their feelings. Perhaps you still do. It can be quite difficult to go on with your life knowing that your conduct likely deeply wounded someone you care for. This knowledge can keep you hurt, worried, and guilty until you acknowledge and own up to it. Reaching out to the friend has the potential to heal these wounds for both of you.


If you genuinely feel that you owe an explanation to your friend and understand that they're entitled to their feelings about that explanation, reach out. Apologize for your actions, tell them how you've been feeling about what you did, and offer to explain what happened (via Hope Mental Health). Don't go straight into your reasonings, however. Give them the chance to agree to consent to the exchange first and be prepared for whatever response they give. If they're willing to listen, thank them for the opportunity and then take full accountability. Use "I" statements to avoid deflecting any of the blame onto your friend. 

Emotional processing

If your friend agrees to listen to your explanation of why you ghosted them, take the chance to provide them with fully honest information, no matter how bad it makes you look. When there is no real ending to a relationship, the other person is left with nothing to process and may blame themselves, especially if they already suffer from low self-esteem (via Psychology Today). This makes it very difficult to go through the normal process of grieving a friendship and moving on. Even if the friendship isn't restored in the end, allowing your friend to digest the information they weren't privileged to at the time of the ghosting will allow them to move through the emotions that need to be processed so they can truly move on.


Regardless of how your friend responds, being vulnerable and taking responsibility for your actions can help you process your own emotions as well. Acknowledging all the mistakes you've made in the situation and learning better ways to cope with overwhelming feelings will only make you a more transparent, emotionally resilient, and mature person, according to Eugene Therapy

Rebuilding a friendship

If your friend is open to listening to your explanation and accepting your apology, you might be lucky enough to have a second chance at a friendship with them. This could be a beautiful new beginning, but don't expect it to be without challenges. You broke your friend's trust when you ghosted them, and that will affect what your new friendship looks like. If you want this new relationship to flourish, you'll have to commit to complete honesty and open communication.


Don't be alarmed or surprised if your friend becomes anxious when they haven't heard from you in a while. This is a natural consequence of the negative experience they had when you disappeared on them. Be patient, offer frequent reassurance, and thank them for being vulnerable with you. Always listen actively when they share their struggles with trusting you again without getting defensive. Over time, your friend will begin to feel safe with you again, and your friendship may grow closer and stronger than it ever was before. 

Returning to toxic dynamics

If the reason you ghosted your friend in the first place was related to a toxic dynamic on the part of one or both of you, consider the fact that this dynamic may return if the friendship is rekindled. If you begin to spend time with your friend again and you start to remember how toxic the relationship actually was, take some time to reflect on what you really want and be realistic. Are these issues that can be worked through? Is the friendship worth the work that would be required?


If you realize that you were right to end the friendship and only regret the way you went about it, communicate with your friend as soon as possible. Try to break the news in person and as compassionately as possible, as detailed by Vice. The longer you allow the renewed friendship to go on, the more upsetting it will be to both of you when you end it. It should go without saying that ghosting your friend for a second time is not an option. This time, face the issue head-on and explain your realizations to your friend. Apologize for hurting them a second time and then prepare to move on for good. 

Quelling your own guilt

If you're feeling driven to reach out to a friend you've ghosted because of the guilt you feel, pause to reflect more before you follow through with contacting them. Guilt and shame are powerful emotions that let you know you've done something wrong (via Scientific American). However, showing back up in your friend's life only to make yourself feel better is just as selfish as disappearing without an explanation was. Making amends should be primarily about repairing the hurt you caused another person, not restoring your own ego.


If your friend has moved across the country, started a new career, and made a whole network of new friends, it's probably best to just let them live their life. Promise yourself to do better in the future and move on with your own as well. However, if you check your friend's social media or ask your social circle about them and it appears that they are still struggling with being ghosted, reaching out may be the right thing to do for their sake. Offer a sincere apology without excuses and focus on your impact, not your intentions, as explained by Healthline

Risking rejection

If you're considering reaching out to a friend you've ghosted, be honest and realistic with yourself about the possible responses you could receive. When your actions have hurt another person, their reaction is both valid and out of your control. You may contact your friend to apologize for your actions and receive no response. You may receive a response politely informing you that they are not interested in hearing your explanations or hearing from you in general. You might even receive a hostile response that includes expletives or name-calling.


If you receive a negative or hostile response from your former friend, don't insist on engaging further. Offer your apology for what it's worth and then discontinue contact. Then, focus on forgiving yourself. You can continue on your path of personal growth without the cooperation of the people you've hurt. Reflecting on your mistakes will make way for new growth, according to BetterUp. Let them go their way, go yours, and stay focused on making better choices in the future.