Why It Hurts So Much When A Friend Stops Talking To You — And What To Do

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why does it hurt when someone stops talking to you

Two times in my life, my friend stopped speaking to me for no reason.

In eighth grade, Courtney and Melanie, my best friends, just stopped talking to me. They never told me why. For most of the school year I wandered around in a daze. I wondered what I'd done wrong, how I could fix it, and what about me was so worthy of hate.

I chalked that experience up to the terror that is middle school.

That is, until it happened again in my 20s.

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My best friend Kat and I were always very different people, but that didn't stop our friendship from growing when I moved to New York. She's smart, no-nonsense, and tough. I'm flaky and weak.

It was inevitable that we would eventually clash. I just had no idea that when we did, it would be in the form of her just never speaking to me again.

When a friend stops talking to you, without any reason, it hurts more than any other kind of breakup. This is why.

1. It's like being ghosted but so much worse.

Because when a guy ghosts you, that's just a guy. You assume he's just not "the one."

Friendship is supposed to mean so much more than one lame dude. Odds are, if you were ever romantically ghosted, you turned to your best friend to talk about it.

So when a friend leaves you with no explanation, it can feel like even worse betrayal than when a lover leaves sans explanation. Because, in a sense, they have left you utterly alone, knowing that you have no one to turn to.

The fact that someone who knows you so well could treat you so badly is a wound that doesn't heal easily if at all.

2. You never got a chance to fix things.

We all fight with our close friends. Because our friends are different people, we probably even fight with them in different ways.

My best friend from college and I fight passive-aggressively until one of us breaks. Then we talk it over.

My best friend in adulthood and I speak to each other directly, saying, "Hey, this hurt me, and here's why."

With true friends, you should always feel like no matter how bad things get, you are going to be there for each other. You are going to talk things out. You are going to fix things.

When a friend just stops talking to you, they violate your relationship agreement. It's that kind of unsettling and selfish decision that can cause you to reevaluate and reassess all your other relationships.

3. It validates your own negative thoughts about yourself.

Your best friends know everything about you. They know that you love building houses for Habitat For Humanity, but they also know that you once stole five dollars from your grandmother's dresser in high school.

Your friends are there to build you up when you feel low. When that same friend who knows you inside and out decides to ditch you, it is just as good as actually calling you up and saying, "Yeah, so you know how you're always worried that your anxiety and nerves make it impossible for you to be loved? You're right."

No one who ever could be called a friend would treat another person that way. I wouldn't even think about doing that to an enemy. It makes you doubt the entire friendship.

If someone who supposedly loved you and loved hanging out with you can just decide one day to turn it off like a faucet, it's natural to wonder how much of the entire relationship was real to begin with.

When a friend just stops talking to you, they are doing so much more than just a friend breaking up with you. They are stealing the good memories you have of that friendship too and making you doubt yourself and your own history.

4. There are right ways to end a friendship, and everyone knows it.

Sometimes friendships have to end.

Kat and I have not spoken since she ended our friendship, but I can acknowledge now years later that we were never going to be forever friends.

Other times, friendships have natural ebbs and flows.

Becoming friends with someone doesn't mean that you owe them a lifelong commitment, but it does mean that you agree to treat them with love and respect — and that includes how you end that friendship.

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If a friendship has become toxic, you have every right to end it. But the person you're ending that friendship with has just as much reason to know why you're pulling away.

You owe that to them, to yourself, and to the history of your friendship to do it right.

What To Do When a Friend Stops Talking To You

Reach out.

If they stopped talking to you all of a sudden and you literally have no idea why then reach out. Send a text, a note, try calling them to find out what happened.

Maybe you said something you didn't know hurt them or they are going through something on their own. Reach out to ask what is going on so you can make a plan on how to fix it (if it was your fault).

Relationship Coach Keith Dent suggests, "You can reach out a couple of times, but you don't want to be intrusive. They may just be going through something and prefer to be alone. If your friendship is solid and you care that much about the friendship welcome them with open arms when they return."

Make a sincere apology.

If you messed up, then you need to accept responsibility for it. Therefore, you need to offer an honest, sincere apology to your friend. Explain what you did and why you are sorry.

Hopefully, after seeing how remorseful you are your friend will accept your apology and you both can move forward.

Ask what you can do to make things right.

Sometimes an apology doesn't cut it. So ask your friend what you can do to move forward and make things right.

Don't call them out on social media.

I know you may be feeling angry or hurt about your friend not talking to you, but please don't get petty and put your friend on blast. This will just add fuel to the fire.

If your friend refuses to open up a dialogue with you about what went wrong, you need to look out for yourself and move on.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.