I met a girl named Jenny in the 7th grade. She was popular, good at sports, and everyone liked her. So did all the girls. We were friends immediately and I wanted to be just like her — well, for a short time anyway.
The closer we became, the more her meanness and negative side showed themselves. But still, our friendship lasted all through high school and most of college. Throughout our friendship, however, I never really felt like I could be my true self with her though. She would tell me I was her best friend, but I never quite felt the same and didn’t have the courage to tell her how she really made me feel.
When I came home on our first college break, she was even more snobby and negative, talking trash about everyone we knew, commenting on the way they looked and if they’d put on the “Freshman 15,” which I had. I later found out from two friends that she was bad mouthing me too, of course. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized, if someone is talking about everyone else, they are probably talking about you too.
Jenny and I still hung out for a little while, and then, though I never mentioned her talking behind my back, I stopped keeping in touch and we drifted apart.
A decade or so later, I ran into Jenny at a local playgroup after not talking to her for several years. We’d both just had kids, were nearing 30, and there was comfort in seeing her and talking about old times.
She was hesitant at first, and so was I. After all, I was the one who blew her off and she was the one who had gotten blown off. I felt bad, but wasn’t able to say it and she never brought it up. I wondered if things could be different and if I could tolerate her negative behavior — or better yet, maybe she was more positive these days.
We both had daughters the same age and began our friendship again. We went to lunch, out shopping, and did the occasional walk in the park together with the kiddos.
We had girls’ nights and I found myself always wanting to invite someone else as a buffer. Jenny was even more negative than she’d been in high school. She loved pulling up people’s profiles on Facebook and making fun of their lives and about whether they seemed to be doing well or not.
I was older and not afraid to call her out on it and told her how horrible it was after she didn’t take my hints by telling her to put her phone down and find a better way to live her life.
As I heard the “ugh” and saw the eye roll, I lost my appetite and was suddenly so tired I couldn’t see straight. As soon as we finished eating, I went home.
She told me a few days later I’d hurt her feelings by “bailing on our girls’ night.” I felt bad and like maybe I’d been too harsh, so I apologized.
A week later, I was chatting with a friend in the comment section of a Facebook post I wrote about how I’d been craving sushi like nobody’s business.
“Wednesday, sushi?” she wrote.
“Yes, it’s a date,” I responded.
Jenny chimed in after seeing our exchanges and invited herself, which was kind of fine, but kind of not.
At least I’ll have someone to buffer the negativity, I thought.
During that lunch, the belittling of people and their clothing choices and how much weight they’d gained and how old they looked continued despite my obvious disgust.
“Let’s talk about something more productive, Debby Downer,” I said.
She apologized by sending me a text later. But by that point, I was done with her and the negativity.
I never responded. And that was 7 years ago.
My excuse isn’t a good one, and I’m not proud of it, but I was tired. My tiredness came from being a mom and not having the energy to talk it through with her and explain why I didn’t care to spend time with her anymore. I just wanted to ignore it all.
If I saw her in the store, I’d literally take my kids and run. I just couldn’t do it.
It was childish and immature, and I do have regrets. I should have explained to her that her negativity was off-putting and I didn’t want to be around it. At the time though, I thought it would be too hurtful, so I said nothing.
I had no faith she would change, which wasn’t fair of me. But, honestly, the biggest reason I ignored her was because I wanted to avoided the confrontation. It was easier to dismiss it and pretend like it never happened.
I’ve seen Jenny a few times — our kids go to the same school — and we ignore each other. I’m pretty sure she will remain someone I used to know.
Ghosting is petty and small and hurtful. I know Jenny probably has no idea why I no longer want to be friends with her. Or maybe she does.
I think most people walk away from a friendship, or relationship, because they literally don’t know how to handle the situation the right way and it feels so much easier to brush it aside. It doesn’t mean they don’t think about it and feel bad about it though — there is another side to ghosting, and I think more of us have participated than we are willing to admit.
There are certain things that people do, no matter how big or small, that make people want to move on and forget them. I’m not saying it’s okay, I’m just saying I think that’s why it happens as often as it does.
I have no idea how I’d handle something like that now, but I’d like to think I’d do a better job.