Dear Carolyn: I would like your perspective on a ghosting situation. I met “Rose” four years ago in college. We kept in touch even after she transferred to a different college and after I graduated and moved to D.C. Despite a six-year age difference, we’ve always gotten along and talked almost every day.
Then, one day two weeks ago, Rose stopped talking to me completely. She started by not answering my texts. I tried calling, emailing, Facebooking and even Instagram messaging with no response. I got worried and reached out to a mutual friend; he said she’s fine and has maintained contact with him.
I’m completely baffled. We didn’t have a fight and I can’t think of a reason for Rose to cut me off like this. I miss her. We were supposed to go to a concert together later this summer and I’m starting to think that might not happen. Do you have any advice?
Wondering in Washington
Not really – which is exactly the point and power of ghosting. You have no recourse. You just text and dwell and fret and twist yourself into progressively sadder knots.
Full disclosure: I see ghosting (and other silent treatments) as weak, cowardly and cruel, except when necessary to escape dangerous relationships safely. By caring, we empower people to hurt our feelings; ghosting abuses that power, and thus accounts for some of the bigger holes in my compassion and empathy reservoirs.
So, Rose. Someone capable of such an epic failure of maturity was going to let you down at some point – either over this mystery conflict or another, more scrutable one; either by ghosting or by noisier means; either in the near future or the distant one. People who can’t handle direct communication when they’re upset about something also can’t handle a close, long-term friendship.
The exception is if she comes around and admits, with apologies, that she was wrong to vanish without explanation and wrong to believe that even a valid grievance justified harming you so. If she does express such regrets – and I hope she does, with breath unheld – then be ready to hear her out calmly on whatever started it all.
Dear Carolyn: For strictly personal reasons, we don’t drink alcoholic beverages, and we don’t buy them.
Nearly all our friends enjoy wine, beer and spirits. When we host dinner parties, I feel a bit unsettled not providing the beverages our guests enjoy. Should we (a) compromise and buy alcohol for guests, (b) include BYOB in invitations, or (c) do nothing?
We’ve been nondrinkers for about 10 years, and some still seem quite uncomfortable with our decision. We don’t actually care what others drink or don’t drink, as long as driving isn’t part of the equation.
It’s not your job to make people comfortable with your abstention. It’s also not your job to serve something you don’t partake of yourself.
And since people will write this to me regardless, I’ll just say it: Guests who can’t enjoy one dinner party without a drink have bigger problems than your menu.
But since you “don’t actually care,” and since a host’s job is to entertain guests, why not offer the BYOB option? Life is hard enough; where elegant solutions exist, I say, avail yourself every time.
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