• Handling Breakups

When an Internet friendship suddenly ends

March 1, 2017 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
There isn’t much to do when an Internet friendship seems as dead as a doornail.

QUESTION

Dear Friendship Doctor,

I have a long distance best friend/sister. We have been very close and always texting despite the time difference. One month ago, she sent me a message but because I was busy with exams (and the time difference), it took me two days to reply. This has happened before between us. Sometimes she takes this much time to reply so I don’t think that was the problem.

After 20 days she hadn’t responded so I sent her another message asking her if everything was all right. Still no response. Two days later I sent her another message on multiple social media and she is not replying. She has been active on social media but not reading my messages. What am I supposed to do?

I do not want to lose her friendship. She is one of my closest friends.

Signed, Sara

ANSWER

Hi Sara,

When one friend loses interest in another—whether it’s a face-to-face friendship or an Internet one—there isn’t much the other person can do to save the relationship. I’m sorry this happened. Your friend’s reason for severing her ties with you may or may not have anything to do with you, per se.

It’s easier for people to “ghost” someone else on the Internet because they don’t have to see the person at school, at work or around the neighborhood. In essence, there are often fewer real life ties to bind the friendship.

Since you have made multiple efforts to reach her and she isn’t responding, the only thing you can do at this point is let some time elapse, perhaps a few weeks, and give it one more shot.

In the meantime, take the time and energy you’ve recouped from this loss by spending it with your other offline friends.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (7)

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  1. joe says:

    Wow this is the second thing I have seen about this “ghosting” stuff on this blog. Why is it that when the victims of this are women it means one thing and that when it happens to a guy it means that the woman never ever wants to talk to them again as a certainty and they should just move on? The double standard is unbelievable and makes me wonder if the good Dr has some issue with men. According to some other posts it could mean that she never ever wants to talk to you again. Realistically, there is no way to know. Maybe her computer is in the shop or was stolen. Maybe she forgot her account information. There could be a billion reasons why. Do not loose heart. Try your best and do not say anything that you will regret later because there may be circumstances beyond your friends control. Hopefully it will work out in time.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t really believe it has anything to do with genders per se but more about what the relationship is and how long you’ve known the person. If you’ve been on a couple dates and the person ghosts you, yeah they probably just don’t want to see you again and ghosting is a lot easier than telling you that, and with no long term relationship ties, it’s fairly easy to move on. When it’s a long term best friend, that is a lot more complex and full of more emotions.

      Some things you suggested do not make sense considering the friend posts on other social media. The friend is more than likely hurt by something and is just choosing ghosting rather than trying to fix it. I would go with the doctor’s suggestion of giving her some space for a few weeks then trying again. I think it would be nice to include in that message something like, is there some issue she’s dealing with that makes talking to you difficult right now, stating how important having her in your life is, letting her know that no matter how much time she needs, you will always be open to hearing from her again, etc.

      • Joe says:

        I was actually talking about this site with a post a guy had concerning a reunion. I agree that there needs to be a waiting game with this. The initial post does not indicate how long the relationship had gone on just the problem so it is hard to determine the context. In either event, I think the friend should be up front before cutting off the other. It’s not like she actually is talking face to face. I can see some folks avoiding something like that. Email is impersonal by and large. To me it is rude and dehumanizing to do otherwise. The other problem with email is that you can be catfished unless you have met the person face to face. If you have not then it creates an entirely different set of circumstances. Good luck with this. I can sympathize with the situation. 🙂

  2. sarah says:

    I understand how strange online friendships can be. I had been friends with a lady from Europe for at least 3 years on Facebook. She raved about my posts, hugely supportive of me. She sent me messages, confided in me and we became close..but not face to face. She is very elegant and private and not too many people have commented on her posts but I always voted them up and praised them. They were always beautiful. She has had some depression issues and met a man online who apparently damaged her emotionally. She started to tell me the whole story about this person and then suddenly stopped. I never pried..or judged. She was still in love with this man. I felt so sorry for her and her predicament and wanted only best for her. Over time the I was the only one messaging her..but I did so to keep her spirits up. She continued to call me a dear and beautiful friend she would love to be meeting for dinner or in person. I am not used to friendships like this. My friends in person are so different..straightforward. So…this year I had the opportunity to go to Europe (same country) and she was happy to tell me that she would meet me for dinner and what an honor it would be. As it turned out suddenly she told me her eyes were not damaged and she could not read my messages and would get back to me when she could. i thought that was odd. She stopped posting on Facebook. So, I waited three months before contacting her one more time to let her know I was staying with someone near her home and when her eyes would be better we could communicate again. She had a friend write me back to say she had been very ill for three months and that my trip was more important to me! (than my concern for her?) “Well then..Happy trip to you!” I thought that was a slap in the face. I should have noticed that she never acknowledged my birthday on Facebook, but wished someone else an online happy birthday the same day. However she continued to lavish praise on my profile pictures and posts and mention what a dear friend, soulmate, etc… I am to her and that she would always be there for me..I am wondering if there was some resentment because I put up photos of my husband and myself on Facebook and maybe that was difficult for her to see, due to her situation with this man…It made me sad to think I may have offended her in some way…or maybe it was just an online fantasy friend? As I said I just have regular, fun and good friends in real life…nothing like this person at all, so it is confusing to me…mixed messages. My husband thinks she doesn’t want to meet me because i would find out what she is really like…she portrays herself on Facebook as a beautiful, mysterious woman. I think she most likely is a beauty…Yet..in one message to me she sent a fake selfie from a model. Why? I don’t want to unfriend her…and hope she does not unfriend me. I still like her very much, but…is this a real friendship..is she playing me? i don’t get it. This is a first for me….

  3. IBikeNYC says:

    I had this happen a few years ago.

    In the early 1970s, my middle-school offered us the chance to get an international pen pal, and I ended up getting matched up with a girl my age who was a Malaysian native living in Kuala Lumpur.

    We kept in touch faithfully via snail mail (mostly “aerogrammes;” anyone else remember those?) for decades; through my marriage and hers; through my divorce; when I moved to Fort Lauderdale.

    We lost touch for a few years after that, but then I found her again on FaceBook in about 2010. ON HER HOME PAGE was a lovely, heartfelt post about ME! (Wish I’d saved it.) In it she mentioned me as “Mary Smith, my dear, old friend from New York City who moved to Florida” and with whom she would give anything to again be in touch.

    I was literally crying with joy.

    That day we both happened to be on line at the same time! We IMed back and forth for quite a little while. I was so excited! How had she been? How was her husband? How were her family, friends, job? Finally, after about 15 minutes of “conversation,” she mentioned that it was quite late where she is (there is a 12-hour time difference, I believe) and that she had to sign off.

    THIRTY YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP, AND I NEVER HEARD FROM HER AGAIN.

  4. Amy F says:

    Sometimes online friendships can feel closer than they actually, because the nature of the friendship has fewer dimensions than a face-to-face relationship. Without seeing the person face-to-face, seeing her in an environment with others and observing her interactions, you’re limited in how much you can really know about her. You and she may have felt as close as best friends or sisters, but she either didn’t feel the same way or lacks the social/communication skills to address a conflict or end the relationship in a more mature manner. Take a step back. Focus on your real time relationships. Try to use this as a learning experience to be sure you aren’t using online friendships to replace realtime ones.

  5. Sandra says:

    Sorry to read about the loss of your friendship, Sara. It is always hard to know how to know how to handle the loss of any friendship or a friendship that seems to be fading. Social media friendships are built on an invisible foundation — especially if you’ve never met the friend in person or talked on the phone from the start — so they are different from face-to-face friendships, at least in my view.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel close to an online friend, especially when your sharing so much of yourself in your posts and messages. Social media friendships should be treated with courtesy and respect.

    The Internet puts us all in touch with literally hundreds of people at the same time. It can be overwhelming to try to keep up with all of them. It could be that your friend is busy and overbooked with real life; maybe she has too many social media friends to keep up with. Like Irene says, you should probably ease up on your messages and see if she approaches you later. If not, move on and focus on your other friends.

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