2

Here's the progression of events with me and this friend group:

  1. I met and dated a girl

  2. I met some of this girl's friends. I got along with them just fine.

  3. The girl wasn't romantically interested in me, and showed this by ghosting me. I asked her directly to be my GF, and she explained she'd rather be friends. We continued to be friends, but didn't interact very often because of work we had to do.

  4. I was shy around her and her friend group, so I ghosted her without meaning it maliciously. When I noticed her reaction to this, I explained to her directly that I wasn't trying to ghost her, but that I was just shy. We were still fine friends.

  5. Some friends of hers regularly seemed to me to be ghosting me. This really bothered me.

The situation as it stood in (5) above is a bad steady-state. I get ghosted by people who I'm not close enough to to resolve issues with. In my mind they must've been ghosting me because the girl had spoken negatively of me. The way the situation developed further is as follows:

  1. It eventually bothered me enough that I decided to cut contact with everyone in the friend group.

  2. This hurt the girl (I'm not sure if she was aware that her friends were ghosting me), so several of her friends definitely dislike me now.

  3. I still have to see them around on a regular basis, and not all of them dislike me. I feel pretty bad about it, but it's also somewhat liberating.

I'd like to focus on (5). I felt trapped at that point. Whenever someone ghosted me it was hurtful. I also didn't feel like I could ask the girl directly if her friends were being malicious because she is so much closer to these people than me as a friend. I don't like how the situation ended, but it seemed like one of the few reasonable responses I had to not keep getting hurt.

I suppose it's important to be general such that this question is useful for the community at large: How does one interact with someone whose close friend group seems to dislike you? More specifically, how could one have approached the situation when at (5).

My goals when I was at step 5 were to:

  • Remain friends with the girl. I'm not looking to rebound, and I thought our friendship was genuinely pleasant.

  • Not get ghosted anymore

  • Not put the girl in a situation where she has to consider her friends' word against mine (in case they say they were not ghosting me, and also to avoid making her uncomfortable)

My approach only satisfied the latter two criteria.

Some final details (though I can provide more if anyone's curious about anything):

The girl and I got along quite well as friends, which is why I considered it worthwhile to try to find a solution such that we could keep being friends. The people in her friend group made me pretty uncomfortable with all the ghosting, though. And since we were usually busy and couldn't hang out often, most of what I got from knowing her as a friend were kind of rare but pleasant hang outs with her and frequent unpleasant interactions ('ghostings') with her friends.

  • What age group/s are we talking about here? – apaul Jul 30 '18 at 1:18
  • Can you clarify with examples what sort of form the 'ghosting' by friends took? I previously thought the term was exclusive to people one had been dating, but even if that's my error, it will be helpful for others to have the detail also. – Spagirl Jul 30 '18 at 11:08
  • @Spagirl I would greet people, they would make eye contact and then overtly ignore me. Maybe I misused the term. – Striker Jul 30 '18 at 13:08
  • @Spagirl That was the most common case anyway. One really obvious case was a time where I greeted someone, and they laughed and shook their head as if it was silly I tried to greet them, and walked past me. – Striker Jul 30 '18 at 14:30
6

Take a step back and evaluate your reasons for continuing the relationship with your friend. If you are hoping that she will someday change her mind and agree to be romantic with you, well ... sorry, but that rarely happens. More often than not, following someone who doesn't feel that way about you makes you look creepy.

Give it up, move on, find someone else.

Assuming there's a real friendship there: As all this talk of "ghosting" shows, I'm guessing you are quite young and perhaps uncomfortable expressing your honest feelings -- and, even if you were, others in your age group (like your friend and her friends) would likely be uncomfortable receiving your honest feelings. It's much easier to pretend to hide, and avoid the situation entirely than to tell someone directly that you don't want to spend time with them.

(I should be fair. People "ghost" others at any age, for all kinds of reasons. It's not exclusively a young person's behavior -- although the older you get, the more subtle your avoidance, and the better your excuses for it.)

Anyway, if this girl really wants to be friends with you, it wouldn't matter what her own friends do. She'd make the effort to keep in contact with you, and tell you (one way or another) that she likes being with you. And you could do the same with her.

All this other talk about who "ghosted" who ... I'm sorry, but that's just childish, not to mention irrelevant. Focus on the positives of your friendship with this one person, and disregard anything anyone else might say behind your back. Eventually, either your maturity will settle things down to where you can have an honest conversation with anyone involved, or you'll decide you've had enough of these games and pull the plug.

  • I agree it looks like an immature debacle. I think there was a genuine friendship there, and at (5) we both made occasional efforts to see each other. However, we did not get to do so very often. I'm also not convinced she would reveal her negative sentiments of me to me. So most of what I got out of our knowing each other as friends is these frequent unpleasant interactions with her friend group, which insinuated the negative sentiments and made me generally uncomfortable. Also, what you say in your last paragraph is kind of what ended up happening, but I felt I had to pull the plug. – Striker Jul 30 '18 at 2:16
  • @Striker I can't help but question why you would stay in communication with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. – Andrew Jul 30 '18 at 2:21
  • The people in her friend group made me feel uncomfortable. The girl herself was a good friend when we hung out. It just happens that the 'hanging out' is rare, but the people in her friend group are frequently present in my environment and make me uncomfortable. – Striker Jul 30 '18 at 2:22
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    @Striker If she wants to be friends with you, she'll make space to hang out independently of her semi-hostile group of friends. If not, well, again, that's your answer. – Andrew Jul 30 '18 at 14:50
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    @Striker sometimes it's not you at all. Sometimes it's just the situation, or other factors beyond your control. Sometimes you just rub people the wrong way. Sometimes you can't even see your own annoying behavior. Point is, there's no way I can definitely tell you what's going on. I can only give you some pointers on how you can deal with it. – Andrew Jul 31 '18 at 8:04
2

Your description of "ghosting" reveals a problem: You take an instance of non-communication (what I think you call ghosting), and from it draw conclusions about the intentions and feelings of the other person (that is, as if it were communication). In fact, you even point out that your friend thought you were "ghosting" her, when in fact you were just feeling shy. There's obviously a feedback effect in play, where avoidance just compounds itself. But here's the thing: none of you actually know how you stand with each other because you're all just guessing.

The good news is that in principle the lack of communication is solvable by, well, communicating more. Start by being charitable: that is, accept "blame" for the tense and uncertain relationship even if you don't feel that it's your fault, because it's a way to break down barriers.

"Hey, sorry for being awkward and avoiding you last week, I was feeling uncomfortable and not sure if I had done something to upset someone. Are we good?"

"Hey, friend, your friends are making feel bad by avoiding me, but I'd like to continue to hang out with you. Any thoughts on how I could improve the frosty environment with A and B and C and D? Or maybe we could hang out occasionally without them?"

"Hi C... [no response]... [chase them down]. C, I notice you didn't return my greeting, which makes me think that you're upset with me or just don't like me. What's up?"

Please note that this is not advice to accept all blame for a relationship onto your own shoulders, which is another recipe for disaster. This is a conversation-opening strategy only, and a way to get intentions and feelings into the open. If a "friend" refuses to engage, or bluntly says that they don't like you, well, you have your answer.

0

Nobody can "make" you feel any way that you yourself don't want to feel. If you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why you are making yourself feel uncomfortable. Take a minute, look at your thoughts, and see which thoughts you have that you react to with discomfort. For example, perhaps you have the idea that your true self-worth is defined by what other people think of you. If so, you might want to change your mind about that, and watch how your emotions change as a result.

If people don't like you, stop caring. You don't live or die by what other people think of you; it's what you think of yourself that matters. Let them dislike you, and go ahead and like them anyway, because you prefer liking people. If they are mean to you, decide not to feel hurt. If you offend them, don't feel the need to defend yourself. Nobody really knows whether whatever you might have done to offend them is intrinsically or objectively offensive. Nobody really knows because such a thing doesn't exist, even though every ego in the world -- yours included -- wants you to believe that it does.

Talk to people the way you do when you like them, not to get them to like you, but because you do like them! Whether they like you or not. Find things to like in all these people who seem to dislike you. If people say mean things about you, or belittle you, it doesn't matter, if don't think of yourself the way they think they do. Forget about it and keep liking them. Some will stick around and become friends, some won't. Keep the door open either way.

Lao Tzu sums up the general idea better than I can:

I am good to good people,
I am also good to bad people.
That is how to be good.
I am sincere to sincere people,
I am also sincere to insincere people.
That is how to be sincere.

Tao Te Ching, Chap. 49

So does Gandhi:

As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

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