Taylor and I had recently started seeing each other. Again. Taking it slow this time. Rekindling the deepest connection either of us had ever had. We had been broken up for about five months. Before that, we were in an intense, passionate, volatile, two-year relationship. And before that we had been close friends through most of college.
It was the kind of relationship where we were partners, best friends, and soul mates at the same time.
One day in August of 2015, we had dinner plans. Mussels and frites — one of our favorites. I sent my first text around 2pm.
A few more helpless texts. Phone calls that rang only to reach voicemail. Some random emails in case her phone was broken or lost again. All of these communications sent into the abyss.
I no longer have a screenshot of the final text message ‘exchange’ between us because I had to delete it. I had to stop myself from obsessing over it in the following months.
I had been ghosted.
It was a few weeks before I finally saw her post a comment on Facebook. The first evidence that she was even alive. It is almost impossible to explain the range of emotions and rationalizations I went through during this time.
It was the most jarring, confusing, unexplainable stretch in my life.
Until I started seeing her tagged in Facebook pictures with the same guy. He kept appearing more frequently. Her new boyfriend.
Several months later, we saw each other at a friend’s birthday.
By this time I had (mostly) come to terms with the truth of the situation even if I had not yet dealt with the full psychological trauma. We pleasantly said hello to one another and then pretended like none of it had ever happened. No one around us had any idea, which helped. Taylor probably pretended out of denial of the pain she had caused me. I pretended because I didn’t want to cry in public.
After that run-in we went back to radio silence. Nonexistence. I never tried to reach out again. We managed to avoid each other at any other future events. (This was mostly my doing.)
After many months, I started dating again. However, when I sensed things were ending with anyone, I opted into over-communication. Full transparency.
Whether I went on ten dates with a girl or one, I made sure to send a clear message once I realized we would not continue to see each other.
This was game-changing. I would send a message that made it clear what was happening, and how I felt. For example:
“Hey Amanda, I know we haven’t spoken in a while so this might seem unnecessary. I just wanted to let you know that I had so much fun with you, but we’re probably just not right for each other. Truly think you’re awesome and wish you the best. Will be glad to say hi if I ever run into you!”
Sometimes, the responses I received were appreciative of the courtesy. Some were so inspirationally mutual that we became friends. And other times, people were slightly offended. They assumed I thought they were needy or weak, and I had to let them down easy. And that’s okay.
I can’t control how people interpret the communication that I put out there. But I can lead with my true intentions and hope for the best.
I’ve found that when the end of a relationship is a gradual decline into disinterest, it’s easiest to just let it fade into the darkness. And you totally can. But should you?
Do we want to be the generation that can’t confront one another on a basic human level?
Many of us have been ghosted. And despite knowing how much it hurts, we’ve even probably ghosted someone else. I think we can be happier and healthier humans than that. It is never too late to show genuine human care and decency.
My story has a bittersweet ending.
After over 15 months of not even acknowledging each other’s existence, Taylor and I were sadly forced to be in the same place last month — the funeral of a dear friend from college.
I saw her the morning before the service. Once we met eyes there was an immediate, heartfelt embrace. In an instant, I could feel the years of confusion, anger, and resentment vanish. It all washed away. I realized that I had forgiven her. But for this to be the reason we reconnected, I thought, how sad is that? I can’t describe how relieved I was to see her at that trying time in my life.
We spent the rest of the day sharing memories and just being ourselves. Our new selves. We did not talk about the past and she did not apologize for the way it ended between us. But that was never her style anyway. When the long day was over, we hugged again.
We now follow each other on Instagram.
Special thanks to Naomi Nessim for the original illustrations.