I n high school, I was part of a trio: Marlene, Susan and I were constant companions–until one day, for reasons she did not disclose, Susan refused to have anything more to do with me. Marlene tried to stay friends with both of us, but since that meant sticking with Susan, I was locked out. Being cut off by a close friend, someone integral to my daily life, was shattering. But I learned, as I interviewed over eighty girls and women (ages 9 to 97) for a book about friendship, that cutoffs are a common calamity. And so is ghosting.
I heard many accounts of cutoffs and ghosting – both from those who’d suffered from it and those who’d done it. The ugliest stories were about being ousted by a group of friends in middle school or high school. And it haunted not only the ejected but also the ejectors. For example, a woman, Annie, said she still feels regret and shame for not speaking up when, in tenth grade, her entire friends group turned on one member. Annie wasn’t the ringleader, but, she said, “I went along. And we had been very, very close friends.”
And it broke her heart at the same time that it broke mine
Most of those who had been cut off said they didn’t know why. But those who said they’d cut off a friend always told me the reason. For example, a woman, Linda, said she had let a friend stay with her for what was supposed to be a brief time. As the days became weeks and then months, she finally asked the friend to leave. Instead of thanking her for months of hospitality, the friend exploded in anger. Read More