How To Fix Your Friendships If You Ghosted Your BFFs

Dates or romantic interests which fizzled out aren't the only people you might be guilty of ghosting or who may be guilty of ghosting you. Friendships are also susceptible to ghosting, as they may fizzle out for different reasons. You may inadvertently ghost a friend instead of being honest when you are consumed with work, a romantic relationship, or a family matter; you may be overwhelmed with stress or have your attention directed elsewhere for a period of time during which you lose contact with friends whom you were previously close with. This may leave you feeling guilty over having inadvertently ghosted your friend or possibly multiple friends, and now you desire to make amends and reconnect.

First, you will likely fret over whether the friendship can even be repaired. Depending on the circumstances in which you ghosted this friend, you're probably feeling guilty, but you should give yourself grace and extend self-compassion. Realize that you may not have meant to ghost your friend, but circumstances related to your life experiences at the time or the chaos of daily responsibilities may have culminated in communication becoming less frequent within the friendship and ultimately leading to a full cessation, a.k.a. ghosting. If you've ghosted a friend and realize you now have the capacity and desire to reconnect, the first step is to make amends.

Fully understand why you ghosted your friend

Before reaching out to your friend, you should take time to journal, reflect, and mindfully connect with yourself. Take ample time for introspection, aiming to truly understand why you may have ghosted your friend. The reason apparent on the surface could be masking a more intimate, vulnerable explanation for why you neglected to maintain contact with your friend. Sometimes friendship ghosting occurs because one person considers only their own needs, though this describes an intentional, rather than unintentional, effort to ignore a friend and isn't always an accurate depiction of the dynamic precipitating friendship ghosting. As you look inward, practice self-compassion, as shame, blame, and guilt which you impose upon yourself can become toxic no matter how bad you feel about letting your friendship fall through the cracks.

It's necessary to understand the actions related to ghosting and why you ghosted your friend in the first place because you can't offer your friend a genuine apology if you don't know exactly what it is you're apologizing for; thoroughly understand the situation before trying to reconnect. The more thorough, intentional, and thoughtful you are in understanding your own experience and past actions, the more likely you are to offer a truly genuine explanation for why you ghosted the relationship and why you desire to regain your friend's trust.

Share your feelings about the friendship in a letter

Putting your thoughts in a written letter is a helpful way to release your full spectrum of feelings, thoughts, and desires for moving forward before you apologize to your friend. Sometimes, though, you may realize that you can use the initial letter written for your benefit to craft an articulate version to give to your friend as an expression of your sincere apology. But, before doing so, focus your attention instead on fictionally writing to your friend, and take as much time and paper as it takes to say everything you want to express.

Writing this type of letter can allow you to articulate all your thoughts and get them out of your head and onto paper, thus, eliminating rumination in your mind. Simultaneously, writing a letter to your friend even without sending it is an opportunity to practice apologizing authentically. Prioritize practicing expressing your legitimate feelings without making inappropriate comments or jokes or saying anything which could be misinterpreted given the likely tension to exist when you first try reconnecting with your friend. Practice your apology using the three S-sentiments, which encompass keeping it simple or straightforward, sincere, and succinct.

Reach out to your friend with a polite yet sincere message

When you do reach out to your friend, know they may not be amenable to reconnecting and may possibly respond with a rude and hurtful message likely rooted in their own feelings of hurt and grief from losing your friendship without any context. Another possibility is that your friend may not respond at all. Be prepared for these situations with coping mechanisms and self-care measures in place to care for yourself should you experience grief, anger, or general sadness. Even if you were the one who ghosted the friendship, you're not immune to feeling emotions of remorse and loss of the relationship you once shared.

Also, avoid suddenly resurfacing in your friend's world with a vague message simply saying hello. Instead, have a prepared message which touches on elements of effective apologies. Succinctly explain why you ghosted the friendship, your remorse, and your genuine desire to offer a thorough explanation during dedicated time when you can have a longer exchange. Sincerely express your affection, respect, and well wishes for your friend. Attempting reconnection can at least provide a semblance of closure to the friendship if your friend isn't amenable to reconnecting or ignores your attempt to reach out. While this may be the more difficult route, you'll know where the friendship stands and will be able to begin grieving it properly so you can move forward and focus on new adult friendships

Own up to your actions and be honest about your capacity for reconnecting

When you finally have the opportunity to offer a genuine apology to your friend and offer your sincerity in making amends for ghosting the friendship, be respectful, patient, empathetic, compassionate, and forgiving towards both your friend and, imperatively, yourself. There are several elements to include in your apology to your friend, whether you're able to meet in person or you're communicating by phone call, text message, or a consciously deliberate version of your handwritten letter. Using what you've gained through your introspective efforts, genuinely describe how the ghosting occurred as a result of your actions, subsequently explaining why you did so in a straightforward manner which acknowledges their experience, validates their feelings, and offers sincere expressions of your remorse for the way your friend was made to feel.

It's important to own up to your actions even if you unintentionally lost connection with your friend. Taking ownership and apologizing is an exceptionally important component in reconnecting, as you're acknowledging and giving credence to the emotional experience your friend endured as a result of your behavior, including the lack of contextual information they had upon suddenly losing your shared friendship and the stages of grief they've likely experienced in mourning a relationship they believed was lost indefinitely. 

Actively listen to your friend to show your respect

Ghosting has become so prevalent that nearly 80% of participants who responded to a 2018 University of Western Ontario survey reported experiencing ghosting by a romantic interest or friend at some point. Despite ghosting being a relatively modern phenomenon, its common acceptance as normal and frequent doesn't make the act ethically or morally right, nor does it uphold healthy communication or respectful treatment of one another. This is why actively listening to your friend is so important.

The pinnacle of apologizing is listening, so the ultimate respect you can show when attempting to reconnect with your friend is validation of their experience through active listening. Though you may feel nervous or emotional yourself, be as open as possible when listening and understanding your friend's sentiments. Like your introspection of your experience losing the friendship, imagining yourself in your friend's position empathizes with their experience as you reconnect. Respect your friend's boundaries and reservations they may have in re-establishing contact, and understand that they likely drew their own conclusions about why the friendship was ghosted and have probably experienced several stages of grief, especially if you had been pillars of each other's support networks.

Express your desire to re-establish your friendship, but let your friend guide the pace of reconnecting, and be respectful of their boundaries. Your experience of addressing ghosting behaviors can become an opportunity to eliminate unhealthy habits and create healthy ones instead.