‘Ghost­ing’ silent treat­ment by pal is cow­ardly, im­ma­ture

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST / TELEVISION - CAROLYN HAX Chat on­line with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Fri­day at wash­ing­ton­post.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Wash­ing­ton Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 20071; or email tellme@wash­post.com

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 stopped 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 DEAR READER: 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. I’m sorry.

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.

— En­ter­tain­ing DEAR READER: 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.

Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group/NICK GAL­I­FI­ANAKIS

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