Dear Elderly Aunt.
Love your advice. I didn’t think I would ever write a question, but I’ve been stewing on something. I had a friend. Well, we were friends. We almost took it to the next level, if you know what I mean. But then he took a job in another city almost exactly a year ago. We kept in touch, mostly through texts. About six weeks ago, he started ghosting me. Just no response. So I backed off. I sent him a DM last week and again, nothing. I miss him in my life, and he gave no hints about why he might cut me off. I’m not sure if he wanted us to get romantically involved and was disappointed we didn’t. Or maybe he’s in a relationship and doesn’t want to tell me? But it’s hard to ask him when he won’t respond, right? So what do you think I should do?
– Perplexed in Harrisonburg
There are silver linings to every cloud, and one of the most serviceable silver linings of the Elderly Aunt’s own mid-life self-destructive cloud was her acceptance that the only behavior she has a hope of controlling is her own. The Harsh Reality of Human Relationships is that other people are simply gonna do what they’re gonna do, and how you feel about their doings may—or may not—come into their decision to do them.
It strikes the Elderly Aunt, dear reader, that you are facing the same harsh reality.
It is painful and confusing to be ghosted and perfectly natural to want to know why your friend is ghosting you. But the reality is that you just don’t get to know everything, and it’s time to face the fact your friend’s non-response is a response—at this point in time he’s focused on other things and/or other people. That doesn’t mean he won’t ever want to communicate with you in the future, but that, again, is something over which you have no control.
All this leaves the Elderly Aunt wondering about why this fellow suddenly ghosting you matters quite so much, dear reader? A whole range of possibilities occurs to her—everything from simple hurt pride to regret over failing to face the depth of your own feelings while this fellow was still within reach. She invites you to drop all speculation about what’s going on with him long enough to face what’s going on with you.
As you might have noted from reading prior screeds, the Elderly Aunt is a big believer that one’s long-term enjoyable happy, healthy relationship life begins with facing and accepting oneself as we really are—loaded down as we all are with strengths, weakness, bozo pretensions, unacknowledged talents, et al. It seems to her that friend-cum-ghost is offering you a big-time opportunity to learn something valuable about yourself. Things bother us for a reason, and in the Elderly Aunt’s experience, the most important reasons are not the obvious ones, and your most pressing task is to figure out what the reason is in this particular case.
Of course, you’ve also learned something about your “friend.” And do please note the Elderly Aunt’s deliberate insertion of quotation marks around the word friend. To wit; he can’t be bothered to give you the courtesy of an explanation for why he no longer wishes to communicate with you. This, to her, speaks volumes about him, none of which is good.
All this being said, the Elderly Aunt hastens to add that her own long-term, gloriously satisfying, and frequently annoying relationship could not have had a bumpier start. By this she means that she and Mr. Elderly Uncle supplied each other with several years of uncomfortable opportunities to get to know and accept both each other and ourselves as we really are. He and I flew apart quite a few times before we developed enough sense to recognize what we’d found in each other—a happyfying, strengthening, companionable life partner.
Life is long, dear reader. And full of surprises. And while we can’t control the future, the Elderly Aunt sees no harm in remaining optimistic that even our relationships do work out for the best if we let them.
The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday. And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”
Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions).