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My high school 10 year reunion is coming up.

I missed most of high school senior year due to a physical illness, the symptoms of which started the summer before. At the time, the diagnosis meant that I would have to try various treatments until I found one that worked for me as there was no cure. I eventually lost near 100 pounds and underwent relatively mild chemotherapy in addition to other prescribed medications with nasty side-effects. As I got progressively sicker, I spent more time stuck in my house and unable to go places because of high levels of physical pain. It was around this time that the two people I considered best friends ghosted me, effectively preventing me from partaking in any events with high school peers (as they were closer to other people and I had been 'forgotten about' while stuck at home. 5-6 years after high school (and 5 diagnoses later), I was cured and my life has since approached full normalcy.

About two years ago, I saw a snapchat from a mutual classmate, which alerted me that the two people that ghosted me were at a bar/diner close to my house. I went there and saw them, at which point they told me that they were wrong to ghost and would talk about it the day after. Come the next day, they chickened out. Since then, all of those classmates at the bar/diner that night have since deleted me off of social media.

The invite for the high school reunion came roughly a week ago and takes place in about 2 months. These are a few things that went through my head (not my actual IPS questions):

  1. It's possible that my attendance will prevent the attendance of some of my peers (such as those at the bar/diner). As it is a reunion and they were generally more popular/well-liked than I was by our peers, I expect more people are curious about them than they are about me. Do they have more of a right to be there than I do?

  2. I do not think people outside of those at the bar/diner that night are aware of the ghosting. Could my (non-)attendance cause a domino-effect of events that would make others in my class aware of the issue?

  3. If I do go, I would try not to rehash old dramas. But I'm not sure exactly how to act. Do I pretend like everything is cool, as if nothing ever happened? Do I say hi to them or avoid them?


And now to my actual question:

I want to go to the reunion and enjoy catching up with classmates. Regarding the people that ghosted me and their circles, I'm hoping to minimize the awkward tension. I'm not sure how to go about doing so. This is the question I'd like help with the most - how do I act on my end to achieve this?

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    Since then, all of those classmates at the bar/diner that night have since deleted me off of social media So there were more people present in the bar where you met those two? And with since then you mean to say that shortly after that incident many people started 'deleting' you? – Jan Doggen May 7 '18 at 12:04
  • Yes, that is correct. – MPath May 7 '18 at 12:06
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    "I saw a snapchat from a mutual classmate, which alerted me that the two people that ghosted me were at a bar/diner close to my house. I went there and saw them..." Did you go there specifically to seek them out? Did you confront them about their past behavior or did they bring it up? How did you respond to seeing them? Were you emotional, cold, curt, questioning, demanding? Did they appear awkward or uncomfortable? How long had you been friends before you became ill and how often did you interact outside of school before then? – user61524 May 23 '18 at 9:16
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    @user61524 I went there to see them with the hope of pulling my friend aside privately to talk the next day. I was casual, not emotional or cold or questioning / demanding. A couple of them greeted me and talked to me, one hugged me, but most appeared awkward / uncomfortable. – MPath May 23 '18 at 9:19
  • @mikey, Sorry, is the friend you went there to pull aside the one who posted the snapchap or one of your old friends who ghosted you? How did the subject of the ghosting come up and what was your relationship to them prior to your illness? Your question spends more time describing your symptoms than your relationships, which isn't as helpful for an interpersonal relationship related question. – user61524 May 23 '18 at 9:25
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Quite easy to decide:

Is there anyone else you want to see and vice versa? Would you go to a party instead of a reunion with the very same people?

If the answer is yes, go, else don't go.

It does not make sense to go if ostracism goes on and you don't feel welcome. Don't let guilt you into participating.

If you decide to go, the question remains how to handle the old friends. While it is bad behavior, people are scared of death, so isolation is unfortunately often experienced. But they had their second chance as adults and blew it.

So whatever your personal style is, more polite (which is the recommended course here) or more forceful, make clear you have no interest in further contact anymore. You cannot trust them, they can only hurt you more, sorry. If you go, hang out with the people you like and enjoy your stay.

EDIT: After the changes the main question is now how to act when the reunion is visited. I say beforehand that I don't think there is only one good way but several good ones so it would be nice if other answers with different viewpoints would be posted.

To your first question: No, they do not have more rights to visit the reunion than you do. I think that in fact their higher popularity is exactly the problem why you are treated so badly. See, in high school popularity seems to be the an extremely important thing and I am afraid your old friends are still stuck in this worldview; it was "uncool" to have a dying friend, so they abandoned you (and in fact, if you are young, dying is downright scary because it reminds people of their own mortality). It is also often harder for people to forgive their own mistakes than forgiving others. When you unexpectedly popped up, they were reminded that they acted as jerks. Because they were popular, they will very likely also come even if you explicitly say that you are coming because it was their high time (strangely, for all what I heard of reunions, they are in fact often .

The second question: As long as you don't say exactly what happened to others, I do not think non-attendance will be noticed strongly because there could be extremely many reasons why you could not come. Sick, other appointment etc. If you attend, then in fact the issue will be noticed, simply for the reason that you were a long time away and the behavior (see below) of the peers will be noticed.

Third question: I think there will be mostly two reactions which you must expect from the peers you are describing:

  • Either hidden ostracism and conducting extremely private conversations when you are in reach.
  • (bad) acting and lying ("Hello, mikey, alas, that I haven't seen you a long time") to avoid losing face.

When you go, try to find someone who is interested and talk first with him/her to get relaxed, the very best is if you meet together beforehand and go together to the reunion. It really is a world of difference if you go alone or at least with someone who is neutral/friendly. In a class there should be at least one friendly soul which has outgrown the desire to be popular at all costs, the ideal person is also someone who knows other people and has a good social ranking. It has also the benefit that if the other peers defamed you (I have an inkling that something like that happened when the other ones dropped you), they have it much, much harder to isolate you. If someone meets you and finds you ok, it is much harder to convince them of the opposite.

If one of the bad peers is appearing, simply say "Hello" and/or nod formally if someone looks in your direction or greets you. Nothing more, nothing less.

If the first thing happens, let it go. Don't force contact, but answer in return by ignoring them. Concentrate on the people you like.

If the second thing happens (here I think other answers and viewpoints are quite appreciated), answer matter-of-factly if they are the two former best friends: "You abandoned me when I needed you most, so please understand that I cannot forget that easily. Please leave me alone for this meeting." No further accusations or drama, simply don't continue talking with them.

If they are the others who thrown you out of the social network, be very wary, but listen. Perhaps they simply were told wrong things and apologize. Let your intuition guide you. If you have the feeling they are fake, get rid of them by an excuse ("Sorry, I have seen XYZ.". "Sorry, I must go to the bathroom").

One of the things of reunions is that many people did not change, but some did change unexpectedly for better or worse. And surely you must always expect the one thing why people are going to reunions.. (It's German, but you will understand it).

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    Heads up - The question has been edited! It is now not about the decision to go or not, instead it is now asking how to minimize the awkwardness at the reunion regarding the people who ghosted OP. Therefore, your answer could benefit from a little rewording. Cheers ;) – Kaspar Scherrer May 7 '18 at 9:46
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Regarding the people that ghosted me and their circles, I'm hoping to minimize the awkward tension. I'm not sure how to go about doing so. This is the question I'd like help with the most - how do I act on my end to achieve this?

You can best achieve it by simply treating them the same way you treat every other former classmate whom you haven't seen (or seen much of) in the last ten years.

Don't seek or single them out. If you see them, greet them politely, ask after their lives if you care to or don't, and then continue speaking with whoever else you were talking to. If they approach you and things start to feel awkward or you get the feeling they are feeling awkward but sticking around to save face or out of guilt, bring up a safe topic to put them at ease ("So, what line of work are you in?" "Do you still follow team/band/comic series/whatever?") or make an excuse to leave their company ("Excuse me, I see Alice and I wanted to catch up with her.") Do whichever will make you feel more comfortable. After all, if you are feeling awkward or tense, you'll hardly be in a position to minimize awkward tension.

I was ill as a child and had many long absences from school. Friends I had made that I only really communicated with while at school would naturally move on to other friends in my absence. I understood this but sometimes they felt weird about it or expected that I would be upset or angry about it. If I encountered them afterwards, I politely acknowledged them in a way that also acknowledged that I knew them ("Hey Alice, have you seen Jeff lately? I heard about his winning X. That's pretty cool.") but didn't bring up our growing apart. This usually put them at ease and then we both moved on with our separate lives and didn't have any awkwardness if we bumped into each other again. usually just shared a nod of acknowledgment and continued on.

If the person I bumped into was a friend I'd have more contact with and had expected to pick back up with after a bout of absence, but didn't, I would usually just acknowledge them politely but make no move to continue a conversation. This usually clued them in that I wasn't looking to make a scene but really wasn't interested in talking to them. I never had anyone continue to try to talk to me after this reaction. They just politely acknowledged me as well and then moved along.

Since this is a reunion and you went eight years without crossing paths with them before, the likelihood of you seeing them again probably isn't very high. I wouldn't expect any of them to go out of their way to try to bring up any awkward subjects, especially after how they reacted to seeing you two years ago.

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Let me give you a little theory before anwering your question.

Every conversation and interaction with a person you did meet before has a "relationship level". That means, all participants expect the other party to behave like they did last time and will speak and act in accordance to that expectations. That's why first impressions are so important. You set the expectations about you for any following interaction.

Your former "friends" (if you want to call them that) did exactly that. Almost 10 years ago they ignored you and isolated you from your other friends. When you met them again by chance, they continued their behavior by chickening out. You can expect them to do that at the reunion as well.

But they were not your only peers. There are other people who might have forgotten about you, but not deliberately ignored you. Maybe they didn't even do it on purpose, but belived in lies that you didn't want to see anyone. If your interactions with them before being isolated where positive and friendly, you can expect that to continue when meeting them again.

So my advice for you is this:

  1. Think of you first. You want to go to the reunion, so go to the reunion. Don't let some people keep you from meeting those you really want to meet again.
  2. Ignore your former "friends". Maybe they will ignore you as well, trying to avoid the confrontation about their ghosting. Maybe you will notice them making nasty remarks or gossiping about you in an attempt to save face in the expected confrontation. Keep ignoring them.
  3. Concentrate on those you want to meet again. Actively start conversations. Include old friends. Don't stand around looking forlorn! A simple "Hey, what have you been up to all those years" should start a conversation easily enough.
  4. If you are unsure, contact your peers and meet up with them beforehand, like Thorsten S. suggested. They will be your allies and act as a kind of social shield, preventing things from getting nasty from the start.
  5. Maybe my most important advice, and speaking from my own experience: Don't let your past define your present. Ten years have gone by. You have changed, so have your peers. They remember you as gravely ill. The "relationship level" can help you reconnect to your old friends, but they will notice very soon how much you changed. And you will notice the same about them. Be open about it, talk about the time gone by. Have a great time together.

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