The Incredible Disappearing Friend

When it comes to lifelong friends, I’m pretty lucky. Mine are drama-free, not too flakey, and terribly supportive of the fact that I’ve launched an entire blog in hopes of adding to their ranks.

But nobody’s perfect and no matter how much I love my best friends it would be silly to pretend they never do anything that annoys, or—let’s put it more delicately—baffles me. Like when they drop off the face of the earth.

Now, I’m not naming names, Sara, but one of my BFFs is famous for pulling vanishing acts. We’ll go through a period where I call her repeatedly and she never picks up.  Or I write her a million random emails and don’t hear back for a week. I learned long ago to accept it in this case, for a few reasons. Namely, a) I know it’s not personal, b) my own communication skills leave a lot to be desired and c) she shows up when it counts.

Last week I emailed said friend a few times, including to point out a guest post I’d written about our stellar friendship. I got radio silence from her end for about a week. When she finally responded, she assured me she was not ignoring me, just too swamped to deal with email. So I did what any true friend might. I warned her I was going to blog about her.

Her response? “I won’t be offended as long as you mention how [my disappearing] has nothing to do with how much I love you.  And that it’s because I’m someone who once I feel close to someone, do forever, no matter the contact.  And would still go out of my way to do anything in the world for you, even if I don’t do a lot of the low level maintenance.” I mean, seriously, how could you ever hold anything against a friend who writes that? Especially one who’s walked the walk. ‘Cause no matter how often she vanishes into thin air, she really has gone seriously out of her way for me. More than once. More than anyone.

Another friend fell into a black hole for months before our wedding. I called and called and called some more—first to chat, then to collect an RSVP, then to make sure he wasn’t actually mad at me for some reason—and got nothing. He was once one of my best friends, and Matt’s, so I was obsessed with tracking him down. In the end, of course, it was nothing. He wasn’t mad at me or purposely ignoring my calls/texts/emails/gchats/facebook messages (No, I’m not crazy or a stalker. This was over the course of eight months)…he just was swamped. And the more time that went by, the bigger window of free time he needed to call and play catch up. I was so relieved when he was finally back in my life that I couldn’t actually be mad.

If a potential BFF turned out to be a vanisher, that’d likely be a dealbreaker. But the right to disappear for a bit is a privilege earned by friends who’ve proven themselves. And there’s something poetic about those relationships that really do pick up where they left off, no matter how much time has gone by.

Right? Or am I just a total pushover? Do you have any disappearing friends? Do you get mad or let it go? Chime in…


Filed under The Search

82 responses to “The Incredible Disappearing Friend

  1. Cindy

    I can’t believe how many friendship topics you have covered that resonate with me. I’ve thought a lot about friendships over the past few years and all the dimensions of friendship issues and you’re nailing them one by one! This is (again) a huge issue for me. I know that I myself have been the disappearing friend on occasion and it’s because I am completely swamped with work/travel. But when it happens to me, it feels AWFUL. Just recently, for the first time in my life, I made a decision to distance myself from one of my closest friends. We live in different cities and over the past few years our lives have taken very different turns. As that’s happened, I’ve noticed that the relationship is increasingly one-way, with me making most of the effort to call, etc. She didn’t make the effort to join a few of us getting together in New York (where we all originally met), etc. So I decided that I needed to stop making the effort and recognize that we are very much in the “ebb” phase of the ebb and flow of lifetime relationships. It was a very hard decision because it meant acknowledging that I’ve been doing most of the relationship “work” and accepting the loss, even temporarily, of someone who has been my shoulder to lean on and with whom I have shared everything for two decades. It is also hard because it’s always been my philosophy to hang onto friends through thick and thin and never ever give up on a friendship. But, I felt like I needed to test for myself what it would feel like to concentrate more on mutual, healthier friendships and put on the back burner those that are no longer satisfying. We’ll see how my “experiment” works out. Will it make me feel good to have friendship boundaries — or not?

    • Please do keep me posted! I’d be fascinated to hear the results…

    • Ellen

      Cindy, I think you are absolutely right! Once a relationship becomes a one way street and your needs are not being met, then it’s time to move on and find healthier relationships to nurture. Otherwise, at least in my case, resentment sets in and poisons what might remain of the friendship. It was painful for me to let go and I still feel the loss. However my advice is: Don’t be afraid to let go, find new friends, move on to more rewarding friendships where both people are considerate of the other’s needs.

    • c win

      The title was enough to read. People dont know how to communicate these days. An email, a few words via computer means nothing. Be creative if you want a friendship to grow or last. And lastly, root yourself in reality, not your mind.

  2. Ana

    Another great topic that makes me think
    Someone who I considered truly a BEST friend liked to disappear. This time I think its for good. Yes, I took it very personally each time & I’ve since given up on the friendship altogether. I guess this is very different from your situation, in which the friend has proven herself to be there when you need her, because at this point I can’t trust that friend.
    I admit I’m not the best at keeping in touch—I really do hate to make phone calls these days—but if someone contacts ME, I will ALWAYS call/write/text back. It takes less than a minute to drop a line saying “hey, how are you, we need to catch up, I’m really busy these days with XYZ. love ya!”, so when I don’t get that courtesy, it does hurt my feelings. Seriously, no one is too busy to respond to an email.

    I know that some people put it off, waiting until they have time for proper communication, and that time never comes, and then it gets awkward, and so on and so forth. But I really believe that if you care about the friendship and want to keep it going, an occasional “hows it going” is enough to at least keep the lines open.

    I think others will disagree with me, I know people stand on one side or another of this issue!

    • I totally agree with you Ana! Exactly – no one is too busy to take a minute to send an email.

    • Laura

      I had something similar happen several years ago. A guy friend who had a pattern of going underground just stayed there. In the past, I could lure him out with teasing and persistance, but no dice. It was a friendship in a vacuum—no friends in common, it existed on its own. So, I couldn’t check up on him via someone else. He’d previously been a truly honorable and solid friend and I considered him my best friend. When he vanished, I was devastated. It still pains me as I write this. It was worse than any heartbreak.

      (I may have done a little googling and I think he disappeared because he met the girl who’s now his wife. Still, I would’ve like to hear about her.)

      • BK

        Omg, finally someone who may get my situation. I met this guy randomly and we just clicked and instantly felt this amazing connection, but it was simply friendship. I was attracted to him and I think he may have been to me as well, but we never went there or outright admitted it since he was only visiting my city temporarily. Anyways, we become pretty close and then one day, he just disappears and nothing. No explanation, no email, no phone call.

        It’s been months now and I have no way of reaching him since I do believe he turned off his phone or got a new number and he deleted his social media. He is a very outdoorsy manly type who isn’t big into Facebook anyways. Ugh!

        I would be curious to know if your guy friend ever reached back out. I really do think my friend also met a girl but I am not sure. It’s just really sad and frustrating. I enjoyed being friends with him.

  3. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, because I seem to have a number of friends who vanish from time to time. Your point about your friend who was just too swamped to respond to ANYTHING — I mean, even a gchat? Really? If a person can’t even take the 5 seconds to type out a quick “I’d love to catch up but I’m really busy right now” or even a “yes, I’m coming to your wedding” that just really bugs me. I get that people get busy or go through times where they don’t want to talk to anyone, which is fine, but I feel like even a good, tried and true friend, owes me that tiny amount of decency to just let me know that now isn’t a good time to connect.

    I think what Sara said to reassure you is nice, and it must be good to know that she’s not just flaking out on you, but personally, I don’t view staying in contact from time to time to be just low-level maintenance. I think it’s pretty important in any relationship. What are our friendships if we’re not keeping in touch with each other and talking about our lives?

    • You’re right about the Gchat thing.. I was both furious and terrified that I’d done something horrible to make him hate me. But then when he finally called.. I just wanted him back in my life! And, in his defense, he was so apologetic. After the call was emails and he even sent us a package of chocolate! And chocolate covered bacon…

      But you’re right.. It’s definitely something to think about

      • Ana

        OK, maybe i’d forgive for chocolate. or bacon. not sure about the combo….

      • Mmm, chocolate-covered bacon. That’s a nice touch 🙂 I made some last month for a party, and it was even better than I was hoping. Sweet and salty goodness!

        Sorry Rachel, I wasn’t trying to knock your friend or tell you how you should have handled it or anything like that, but it just always irritates me when people do that. I mean I go through phases where I’m really busy with work, but I always have my phone on me and I check my email a few times a day, so I guess I just don’t understand how someone can’t find a minute or two to let you know what’s up. I feel like we can always find the time if we want to.

        • No apologies! I love the dialogue.. And think you bring up some really really good and important points. (I just had to get the bit about the bacon in there!)

          And it’s true what you say — we make time for what we want to make time for.

  4. I was definitely guilty of a disappearing act when I was at my last job. I was terrible at responding to emails, I usually said no to meeting up, etc. Most of my friends were understanding and knew that i was genuinely swamped and that it wasn’t personal. now that I am back to working more reasonable hours, I am putting forth more effort and making plans to see people more often, so I think I am redeeming myself.

    I have had some friends that have sort of faded off into the distance. I can only play phone tag for so long before I become uber annoyed and just give up… I still consider myself friends with these people, they just aren’t in my core group of friends.

  5. Good post Rachel. That’s a really tough one. Because in some instances, I agree with you. I have 2 friends from high school that I each see and talk to about once or twice a year and it’s just like it was yesterday. In the past I tried to make contact more but that’s just how it ended up and I’ve now come to accept that our friendship works that way. Others, not so much. There can be hurt feelings if someone doesn’t take the time to respond to you or make a teeny bit of room for you in their busy lives. I guess it’s really dependant ont the dynamic of THAT specific friendship…


  6. katieleigh

    I agree with Lenore – some friendships can survive on occasional contact, and some BFFs can disappear for a while and it’s OK. But I think sometimes people disappear because they just don’t really care about the friendship – which is when the friendship itself starts to disappear.

    Fascinating post, Rachel. You’re bringing up aspects of friendship I’ve never thought about, but that are so real and important.

  7. Karen A.

    It seems to me that friendships have seasons. I will try to make contact a few times and ensure that they have my current contact information. But then I let it go and focus on people who respond. I try to be flexible to let my friends engage with me on whatever level works for them; some are lifelong (hopefully), some are a point in time, and some flow in and out like the tide.

  8. michelle

    I love your blog and admire your confidence to tackle such sticky issues. I too, struggle with a disappearing BFF and often take her disappearances quite personally. Like you, I wonder if I’m just a push over and should require and expect more for myself and my relationships. I don’t know the answer, but am interested in hearing more.

  9. Lisa Z

    This is completely EXACTLY a topic that I was thinking would be a great idea to contemplate. Also, annoying habits of friends, usually the longer they have been your friend, the more annoying they can be! I AM A DISAPPEARING FRIEND, I ADMIT! IN FACT JUST LAST NIGHT I DID NOT PICK UP THE PHONE WHEN MY BFF CALLED! Of course, the Blackhawks game was my excuse.

  10. Marie

    I confess, I am one of those disappearing friends. I don’t consciously decide to disappear it just happens from time to time for a multitude of reasons.

    There are those days/weeks that work is so hectic you don’t have time to use the restroom/eat/sleep let alone look at email. If I receive email during that period it usually gets lost in an overflowing inbox that may get shoved into a folder never to be read. And yes I really do that when I get overwhelmed.

    Then there are the times that I want to compose a thoughtful response but keep putting it off until I’m embarrassed that so much time has elapsed.

    Other times I’m in a blah mood for a day or week and don’t really feel like chatting. Mainly because I don’t want to impose my not so chipper mood on my friends.

    I hate that I disappear. I try my best not to. It’s a bad habit (or personality trait?) that I am always trying to work on. Some years I’m really good, then others not so much. I think it boils down to how much other “stuff” I’m dealing with in my life at the time.

    • Barbara

      “Mainly because I don’t want to impose my not so chipper mood on my friends.”

      Yes! This is me too. I feel like I really have to be “ON” to initiate a social encounter, that I need to be at my best. I mean, who wants to talk to Eeyore?

      Even if I am not in a “blah” mood, I am so rarely “up” enough to feel I have the energy to give a friend a good call/email/lunch date – to be worth hanging out with. I am aware that this belief/behavior is problematic and costs me friends. I am not sure how to fix it yet.

      With my one very best BFF I never worry about this, though, because she knows me so well and I know she loves me no matter what. I can say “I feel blah” and that’s okay. But this type of relationship is few and far between – most friendships are not that deep.

      Love this blog, BTW. Excellent work!

      • Yep, me three! I’d love to hear solutions to this. I have a really demanding job that often involves ridiculous amounts of OT, plus I’m trying to get a side business going. I am freaking exhausted at the end of most days!

        And I know that would come across to any potential new friend — I am a terrible actor and cannot convincingly fake perky and “up” no matter how hard I try. I don’t worry about that with my few close friends who love me even when I’m stressed and tired, but it’s no way to make a good impression on someone new.

        That being said, I do try to at least respond to emails, even if it’s just a quick “sorry, am swamped with work — yes, AGAIN.”

  11. I have friends who do this too … and I completely concur that it’s a right that is “earned,” as you say. I always find it stressful though, because I am such a freak that I always wonder if I’ve somehow done something to piss them off … and naturally it is almost never actually about me (shocker, I know) … you’d think maybe I’d finally learn this!

  12. Megan

    Personally, I think the “low level maintenance” stuff is REALLY important. It’s hard for me to just pick up where we left off. I don’t need constant contact, but relationships need to be maintained, they take work and care, and I’m likely to feel blown off if someone just disappears. I don’t think the closeness or intimacy in a friendship just stays where it is, it’s not guaranteed – it takes work and time and care. That’s my definition of friendship. Yeah, it sounds high maintenance, but that’s the point. All my good friendships/relationships are.

  13. Ris

    I have a friend just like this. I love her, absolutely love her, but she disappears for months at a time. I’ll call, write her emails, guilt-trip her on her Facebook wall, etc. And I get nothing back. And then one day out of the blue we’ll have a 3-hour conversation. I know she’s busy, and I know she’s just like this and it’s nothing personal. If it were any other friend I’d probably be mad but that’s just the way she is and I’ve come to accept it. She’s there when it matters.

    • Star Anna

      haha. You could be talkin about me. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY!! I have NO idea why i am like this, other than : “I have a life and kids Im dizzy unorganized, and …that’s it..just plain go in circles and procrastinate til its ungodly !” I love my friends and siblings and am always the one people use as their sounding board, but yeah. Im guilty. Im gonna try to do better! I dont know who your friend is…but she definately could be describing ME! Maybe she’ll see this and do better too ! 🙂

  14. I’m a vanisher.

    Why? Well, I’m not totally sure. People call, IM, Facebook and email, and I MEAN to respond — but I tell myself, “I’ll do it when I get home.” When I get home, I say, “I’ll do it after I walk the dog.” After I walk the dog, I say, “I’ll do it after dinner.” After dinner, I say, “I’ll do it after I spend time with my husband.” After I spend time with my husband, I go to bed. And the cycle continues.

    It’s not that my friends aren’t important. It’s that I can be a flaky jerk. I know it. To people like us, there’s always time…but we never seem to find it.

    Of course, we’re so lucky to have friends like you who love us in spite of our vanishing. Which reminds me, I need to call my college roommie today…Right after I get off work!

  15. I’ve had the same group of four BFF’s since I was 7. It’s rare that we actually speak regularly—months can go by without us connecting, but because we’ve been friends for so long, when we do talk or hang out (we’re all over the country now!) it’s as if nothing happened.

    Makes me want to email them now!

  16. I’ve been vanished upon AND the vanisher, and both experiences are puzzling. I can’t quite get to the root of WHY I feel the temporary need to disappear and fade into silence, especially because I would never want my dearest friends to feel unvalued or unimportant. It’s a very weird (but real) impulse when life reaches a stressful frenzy.

    As for when others vanish on me, I don’t get upset about it as long as they care enough to say, “I’m not intentionally ignoring you; I’m just swamped!” then I trust that things will eventually get back on track. And they always do.

  17. I have one best friend from college (who is married with two children) who isn’t the best when it comes to keeping in touch, although I try to be understanding since I know she has a family now, and when she does write back it’s almost always something truly hilarious.

    However, I have to admit I was a bit miffed when I sent her a handmade scrapbook (of photos of the two of us from college up to present day) for her 40th B-day and didn’t receive as much as an acknowledgement until I finally e-mailed to ask if she had received it (at which point she was gushing with praise, but still! she could have at least written/called me first!

    So, yes, I know how it is to have absent friends!

    • Cathy

      Cindy, I think it’s very interesting that you mention as part of this discussion not getting an acknowledgement for a gift that obviously took some time and thought. It’s part of the same growing trend of self-centeredness. People are simply less able to or willing to consider the feelings of others, and the excuse is almost always because they’re too busy. Well, guess what? We’re all busy! I think we either value people enough to respond, whether it’s to a gift or just to an email, or we don’t. Everything we do or do not do is a choice we make. I’m with the other responders who give a little latitude but move on when it’s clear that I’m the only one making an effort. I don’t think “it’s nothing personal” is ever an appropriate or even accurate excuse. It most certainly is personal to the one being ignored! The world is filled with too many wonderful people who will reciprocate to waste time on those who are too wrapped up in themselves to even drop a quick email!

  18. I have one of those kind of friends. and while its true they are there when it counts. It still bugs the crap out of me. I dont know why

  19. All I can say is I hope my friends are forgiving. I’d do anything for them, drop everything if they needed me, but there are times I go off the radar with phone calls (I’m a good e-mailer, bad phone caller). With time differences and life/schedule differences, sometimes it’s hard to find the time for a call. I completely relate to that feeling of “I only have five minutes, so I can’t call now…” Then the longer I wait, the more time I need for a long catch-up call. I relate to your friend who said he just got swamped. I don’t condone it, but I get it.

    I don’t like this about myself, so just recently I started trying to break my bad habit of not calling. Now, even if I do have only 5 minutes, I call. It’s better to have a short conversation than no conversation. I talked to THREE friends today (a banner day for me). And it was good. Made my day to hear their voices! Baby steps…

  20. I totally have a disappearing friend.. Actually, I may be a disappearing friend now that I think about it. I am famous for falling off the face of the planet for a little while.


    Hannah Katy

  21. hahaha, this post hits so close to home this week. I have a vanishing BFF and echo your sentiments regarding why I keep her around. So, last week, after she ignored a couple attempts for me to contact her, I decided there’s no way I could share some news with her by phone (or in person, for that matter). I knew she wouldn’t pick up the phone and I refused to play phone tag – because she likely wouldn’t call me back for weeks. So, I emailed her. And while I would’ve liked to have heard her reaction, I’m totally OK with her reading and reacting to it on her own time. Compromise is the name of the game with long-lasting friendships!

  22. I have only one friend, really, who disappears and it’s OK. I don’t like it, and there have been a couple of times when she has been out of touch long enough that I’m gearing myself up to just write her off, and then we’ll talk on the phone for two hours and everything is fine.

    If I am going to be super-busy, or when I have a week or two that are just overloaded, I make sure to send a quick e-mail to close friends to say, “Hey, this week sucks but I wanted to say hi.” I think a gesture like that goes a long way. Or maybe I just think that because it would go a long way with me…

  23. Pam

    I have both had friends that did this and am terribly guilty of doing this to close friends.

    In my case, when I have disappeared it was (almost) always because of something in MY life that I didn’t want anyone else to know about — going through grief or depression or being in an abusive marriage — rather than being mad at the friend I was simply not in a position to really be able to talk about the difficulty OR pretend that nothing was wrong.

    With my former best friend — she was my MoH at my wedding, my roommate with my husband and I just before we married, and the one friend I was closest to all my life — but our lives changed so drastically, I became a wife to a controlling and jealous spouse and then a mother, she moved out of the country, partied hardy, had grand adventures, and was footloose and fancy free. I was jealous that she had done what I was too afraid to do, and too afraid to share my boring life with her. I found reaching out to her really hard because I didn’t think she’d want to hear about my kids or my divorce or my latest dull job, and I couldn’t relate to her exotic boyfriends and drunken adventures in foreign countries.
    Every once in a while i would get up the courage to write her an email, and she occasionally writes back from where ever in the world she is at the time… and I feel guilty that I dropped the ball… but I don’t know how to connect when we have nothing and no one in common anymore.

    Well… maybe not NOTHING, since the last email she wrote let me know that now she is expecting her first (and completely UNPLANNED) child… and she is settling down in one country with one person to raise her child…

  24. sasha

    rachel, i have had a similar childhood best friendship for almost 27 years. and it drives me batty. my bff, as yours, does show up for the big things, but personally i think what distinguishes a bff from an f is that they know all the little things. for me, a bff is a person you call to say “omg, you’ll never believe x y z”, not a friend you need to spend 2 hours catching up with.

    my best friend in college would also do a similar disappearing act with the excuse that she was “busy”. guess what, i was busy too. but the difference was, in my busy-ness, i made our friendship a priority above other things. and what i eventually realized is that she did not. needless to say we are no longer friends.

  25. I think I have been guilty of this from time to time. I’ve been wanting to go out with the neighbors in the cul-de-sac for more than 6 months. I just keep pushing it off for …well, I’m not sure. Apparently no reason. I always think of them when it’s too late to call in the evening, and when I’m online, I’m working. argh!

  26. Bean

    I am the vanishing friend. Why? Because the friend I just truly need a break from once in awhile is a drama queen whose life is center stage and whose friends are there to be her audience, her cheerleaders, her sidekicks. Once in awhile I actually have to play a part in my own life.

    • Anonymous

      Amen. Don’t feel guilty!

      Friends that get upset when you live your life… They are everywhere it’s pretty terrible.

      Go forth and conquer your dreams my dear!

  27. Bean

    P.S. I am not that particular vanishing friend in the blog post but I do fit the profile.

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  29. I AM that disappearing friend so this post really hit home for me. I don’t know why I disappear. I love BEING with my friends. I just hate the telephone. (does that mean I have too much testosterone?) If a friend emails, I will return it but I go weeks or months without returning phone calls to friends I love. So, your article gets me thinking. If we tell our dearest friends, “you know I love you and would do anything for you” and we mean it, don’t we owe it to you to return your calls. The time you really need me could be right now, the time we aren’t there for you. Thanks for the wake-up. I only hope no one calls me on it.

  30. Lorrie Paige

    “If a potential BFF turned out to be a vanisher, that’d likely be a dealbreaker. But the right to disappear for a bit is a privilege earned by friends who’ve proven themselves. And there’s something poetic about those relationships that really do pick up where they left off, no matter how much time has gone by.”

    You are totally right. And the reason is what you said above explained it perfectly.

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  33. I am that disappearing friend, but my reason for it is something I have tried So hard to overcome. For a week every month, I withdraw into myself and go out of my way to avoid friends. With PMDD, I figure it is better to withdraw and avoid humanity than have to apologize for things said during that week. I’ve explained the need to do that, and having felt my wrath at different times, they each understand why I do this. I’m not proud of it, but it is something that I’ve learned to do to avoid burning the very bridges it has taken me years to build.

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  37. Anonymous

    Quoted: “Her response? “I won’t be offended as long as you mention how [my disappearing] has nothing to do with how much I love you. ”

    At least your friend has told you she loves you as a friend, whether or not she is around you or not.

    The response I got from my friend in a similar circumstance:-
    ” everyone is busy with their lives, with their family, love ones, husband, boyfriend…. you should go find a boyfriend…” Hint taken – Go and make yourself busy and not appear until I need a friend.

    Does it mean that I don’t deserve their friendship if I’m not attached? By the way, I’m not one who insist friends to keep me accompany regardless they are busy or not. I’m usually the one who provides my company to them.

    I suppose I should do a disappearing act myself. LOL

    Sometimes, we have to stand up for ourselves even among the friends we treasure most, that friends should not be taken for granted…

  38. I know this is an old post but this is SOOOOooo me! Life just gets in the way sometimes and if I’m not forced to interact with you (rhetorical) on a day to day basis, chances are, we don’t stay in touch during those times. God bless my friends who understand and tolerate my idiot-syncracies! I’d bail any of them out of jail in the middle of the night. 😉

    That being said, for 8 months last year I totally devoted myself to one of those understanding friends (and her husband) as she oh, so slowly died of cancer. All other friends and obligations were put on the back burner for her – the one I used to see only once every month or so to catch up after life got complicated.

    I’d do the same for any of my other good friends….that I only talk to ever so occasionally. Now, I wonder if they know that….

    • Life has taught me that friendship is demonstrated in actions, not words. Friendships require consistent maintenance like houseplants or pets, but on an emotional level. I have “casual” friends who I may not see for months, but I at least make the effort of doing an email check-in just to see how they are. One friend makes disappearing acts every year or two sometimes for several months. I may need to end the friendship because I need friends I can rely on.

      Likewise those friends who talk only about themselves and never ask how I’m doing….the one-sidedness is not worth my trouble!

  39. Melissa

    My BFF is doing the disappearing act right now. It really sucks. Shes done it before and always came back, but this time I’m thinking I’ll just let her go. It really sucks because, even though she doesn’t live in the state as me, shes the first real friend I had had in 8 years. I’m not really sure the pain is worth it anymore.

  40. I have a vanishing friend. We always seem to get back together though. I think that’s mainly because he apologizes for his vanishing, and I accept that as is. However, I always wonder “Why”. Sometimes I think it’s because he has something to be guilty of. Sometimes I think it’s because he has other problems he’s afraid to talk about – ’cause he knows I’ll give him the straight talk.

  41. I had two best friends and the third of our group did the disappearing act a few years ago. She was also the general disappearing type so we hadn’t thought to much about it but when she bailed out on our friend’s farewell and then we never heard another word from here despite emails and calls etc. We heard from the grapevine she had decided to change her life and that involved cutting out everyone in her old life – including apparently, the two who had stood by her during her marriage breakdown and the birth of her son.

    It hurt. There was no way it couldn’t and even today we sometimes shake our heads and remark on her strange behaviour. In the end though, it came down to realising it was not about us and if she wasn’t prepared to value us as friends then we had to let her go. If I ran into her at the shops I’d stop for a chat but there will never by any kind of relationship again, not that I can see her ever wanting that. And that’s ok. I’d rather invest my time in the people that want me around, not those who don’t.

  42. Thank you, thank you for the post and the responses! It’s so good to know that I’m not the only one who is confused by a vanishing friend. I esp. love the response where the author says that it’s VERY personal to the one being ignored. Amen and amen! I am afraid of the state of my friend’s marriage, so I am scared to pry. I am scared to make her feel jealous since my marriage is so happy. Still, I do call and she claims to be too busy cleaning or changing the baby to talk, and I want to remind her that that’s what the speaker phone was invented for. The on/off thing is getting old, but knowing there are so many others dealing with this gives me strength and hope and the patience to just wait and be ever ready to forgive.

  43. Are there any friends that you have not covered? Yes, I have disappearing friends but like you when they do surface, there is no anger, just rejoicing.

  44. I am Mr. Vanish’er. If anyone wants another man’s perspective (as self-serving as they usually are), I will tell you that when I vanish I (and some of my other male friends) do it for themselves and it has nothing to do with how they are feeling towards the other(s). Most of us tell ourselves it is for survival, that we are too busy, or that we can come back any day as though had never left. The fact is, for me, that I sometimes (and for long duration) need space from expectations of the collective whole. I turn off contact with friends, family, and, coworkers when I need to. It is hard for those around to understand it, but I survive and come back to their worlds as the happy go-lucky guy they love to be around. Without the option to pause, I think I would be Mr. Grumpy Pants and they would vanish from me.

  45. I think you hit the nail on the head – there are a couple of types of vanishing friends – the forgivables (your truly wonderful BFF who you couldnt hate if you tried) and the unforgivable (the one who doesnt have enough pennies in the karma bank!). I’ve had both and I’ve been both!

    Great post!

  46. I am the disappearing friend but I am always there when no one expects me to be. I enjoed this post very much!!

  47. Blue Rose

    I have friends, even one who calls me her best friend, that disappears for months. But when she comes back, it’s ok. We talk like no time has passed between us. At the same time, it is frustrating. She has had depression and sometimes wouldn’t even see me if I made a long drive to her house. I also have friends who have disappeared when having kids, which is also fine, if they keep their promises they made to be before it happened. It’s so bothersome to have people say how they want to talk to you or even work on a creative project with you, then disappear, leaving you to wonder if it will just take a few months or maybe, it will never happen at all. The waiting is the hardest part, as the song goes. I don’t want to wait forever for a friend to remember a promise. If they say over and over again they will do something, even call, I expect them to do that, though I feel they will get upset if I show anger…it is hard to explain their flakiness is causing the anger. The couple with kids I let slide, but for how long?

    How long should you give people with a newborn time to respond? I even sent them a gift, so I was hoping I would at least get a thanks, but calls and emails go unanswered. Can anyone help me here? I don’t want to be a pest, yet I want promises kept.

  48. Anonymous

    Friendships are work. In my case, I had a friend dissapear for two months without any contact or explanation of what what going with her. All of a sudden she wrote me an email telling me how “busy” she was. Nothing new there for her. If she has warned me two months prior and acknowledged my attempts at reaching her, it would have been different as that would have been polite. I treat people the way I want to be treated. So after receiving her email two months later, I told her that if that’s the way she wanted the friendship to go, then I was ok with it but not to expect me to be there for her in the future. I also stated that I’d prefer it is she didn’t write me anymore and that I’d spend my time on friends that I have that reciprocated with respect and being ignored is not how I wish to be treated. I basically ended it with her and have no regrets about it. I don’t let friends treat me badly. I have far too many that treat me well and fulfill my needs in a positive way. To waste time on those that don’t fulfill my needs in friendship, is just a waste of time. In the end, I respected myself for my actions to stand up for myself.

  49. Leia

    I will agree with a few posters by saying I enjoyed reading this post and all the replies it generated. I am the disappearing friend and knowing that there are alot of other people who can relate is reassuring. I’m happy I’m not the only one. As far as my reasons, sometimes it is personal but the majority of the time I just need to retreat from the world. So for those supportive friends who accept us for who we are thanks and for the ones who have decided to move on I completely support that decision too. Noone should make you second guess yourself. Now i’m off to forward this post to my friends who think my behavior’s strange :p

  50. I think as we get older we realize there are more things going on in each of our worlds. If they are really good friends we learn to readjust. Sometimes we move on an then realize accepting less is better than not having them at all and new people come along and enrich is in exciting ways. I think at some point if the old friends are important enough we reach groove of fitting together.

  51. What a great blog! So glad that I found you. I am finding life has gotten so difficult from what I imagined growing up. Who would have tough it gets harder as we age? I have had competitive girlfriends ‘unfriend’ me on Facebook over jealousy and obsession over finding a man, blow up over their bipolar issues, envy over my life so I have downplayed myself, dressed down, kept things low key but then began to realize that true friends should be supportive and you should not have to change yourself to keep a friend so after doing some house cleaning – life might be a little lonelier but I deserve being valued as the supportive nice person that I am and not a doormat. Keep up the great posts!

  52. Life on Mars

    I have a disappearing friend, and while she is not a BFF, I had once hoped she had potential for the tier. After a year, it’s still a month between emails, and even those are usually responses to mine, sent for unrelated reasons (e.g. another person asked permission for her cell number). And then We Have to Get Together!! We have a pretty good time, until another month or two of silence goes by. I cannot tell if it’s my need for reinforcement that is making this difficult, or if she actually is behaving badly. We really do pretty well when we meet, and then she’s gone. My sister says that’s normal. I say it makes me feel like crap.

    I would love to hear from others about whether they actually did cut off their disappearing friend, or how they might have learned to live with the uncertainty/frustration. Was the choice the right one for you? Are you still friends? Do you regret the decision? Have the terms of engagement changed? Finally, would you call out someone for disappearing if you weren’t already confident in the relationship?

  53. Kara

    Love this blog! I have a male friend and we mostly email to stay in touch b/c we live so far apart. He will email sometimes three to six times a day just funny little teases and general chitchat. Then gone for usually a few weeks or a month. Then back again for a month or two with little emails to make me laugh daily or more. He is hilarious and we make each other laugh, but this is so strange. He is always there if I write with a real life drama and he always writes me when life is tough for him also. Any ideas?

  54. anonymous Male 30ish

    I had a high school buddy from another continent that moved to the us a semester after me and has been my friend for over 15-16 years now. Eventhough we have always lived in different states we stayed in contact with long phone calls atleast twice a week and weve been there for each other. But recently ive found that he disappears when there is a sense of urgency whenever i contact him. Weve been friends for so long we can decipher urgency of conversation topic by how many back to back texts we send, which sort of proves how close we are. I thought nothing of it for the first 3 or 4 major points in my life that i actually really needed his input and put it off as just a coincidence. The final straw for me is when i called him to tell “yo theres something serious i wanna talk to you about” to which he said he was doing something and hed call me back in a few and didnt. I was devastated and reached a point that i said “whats the point of thinking hes my best friend if he consistently bails at my lowest points”. Its better to have superficial friends that you wouldnt rely on than have one you consider your brother who will fail you at your most vulnerable. I liked your article but sometimes its better to accept the hard truth that they will probably never be there for you. The part that hurts is that i look forward to being a shoulder to him and using my experience to ease his burden, i look forward to it. I deserve better and thats that

  55. Cindy La Ferle

    Great topic for a post. I think unanswered emails and calls go deeper than mere bad manners. (Though it IS rude to fail to respond.)

    The way I see it, a “friend” who can’t be bothered to answer emails, or who disappears for unreasonable periods of time, simply isn’t a real friend in my book. I think it’s acceptable for an acquaintance to ignore my emails or calls or whatever — I take that as a sign that we’re not destined to be friends. In other words, if someone can’t be bothered to respond, or can’t be bothered to keep in touch periodically, I figure they don’t want to be bothered with my friendship, period. That’s OK. I focus all my attention on people who respond back, give and take.

  56. So I have this guy friend who was my closest friend. We talked daily.. he was goin threw a divorce.. I supported him threw tht. We talked about everything.. well one day he txts and says he has a gf. So I said I was happy for him etc. I asked him if he no longer wanted to talk. Due to his gf being affended. He said no he still wants to talk be friends. That his gf knows about our frenship etc. All I asked of him was not to bailout without a goodbye.. he said he would never stop completely stop talkin without a goodbye.. well its been a little over a month since iv heard from him. I miss our frienship. . I just dont wana play chase. . Any suggestions? Idk if ill ever hear from him again

  57. Anonymous

    You are needy. Let her run wild and free knowing she loves you and will respond when you actually have something to say, or a real question rather than just, “hey what’s up, did you hear about this random thing?”

  58. Jasmine

    So I don’t have vanishing friends, because actually I am the vanishing friend, so I can give a hands on experience why people do this. I for one need my personal place to function properly, when I focus on a project for exaample etc. I am a typical introvert who needs alone time to relax! Chances are when I have several things to do for work, and having personal problems to deal with like being stressed by illness or financial problems whatever I need to be alone to spend time to work on those problems. It seems to me you are an extrovert who have a need to talk out your problems, introverts are stressed when they are called too many times pestered by a “hey why don’t we meet” constantly. For example I usually tell politely my friends I am busy, they are even aware if I have school project or other real life things going on like me being ill now, yet when I decline a meeting or an excessive talk on phone that I feel literally steals my time my friend say okay what about bext week? If that is not good then what about two days later etc etc. So disappearing is the only way to get my alone ands stress free time I need to reenergize myself. And yes you are pushy. It seems to me you know that friend cares deeply about you yet you can’t respect her enough to give her some alone time without being hyper about it and blogging about it. I understand this behavour can come across as rude, and I really suggest you to read about introverts to better understand them 🙂

  59. Maren

    Wow I have the same problem with my Sara too!

  60. JoJo

    Hi I wanted to understand this myself. Found this article. I had a friend who called me her Best friend. She started acting odd…it was 8 months ago. I tried reaching out by text. Nothing. Last time we talked she lied.. originally said she was coming to my son’s birthday. Then the day of she lies saying o told you I had roo much found on. I told you I’m not coming. I have a good memory too as a matter of fact.
    Then another supposed best friend. We have some things in common. A couple years ago we had a break. She got mad at me about thinking I was distant the 1st break.
    This time though a few days ago..i had some stressing problems in my life. She didn’t like hearing all my problems happening. She needed a break…this time including blocking me. I accept it. I don’t 100% understand it. So yeah I totally get this article. But I don’t understand the need to be completely shut out…just have to accept that. She said she couldn’t support and has no ill will towards me.

  61. Jo

    Haha, well I’m a disappearing and reappearing friends so I’ll answer your questions! So I tend to disappear for a week or so(just matter on how I’m feeling)and come back randomly, and you pretty much hit the nail on the head. A friend disappearing doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you, it just means they need time for themselves. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or values you as a friend any less, however them disappearing also means they need time because of someone or something(not all the time) cause them to feel the need to get away and rest. And the timeing to reappear entirely depends on whether they feel like it’s time or not, and yes there are time when they reappear too early. However coming back too early just means they’re probably go back to rest the next day untill it’s the proper time to come back, it makes us sounds like bears haha. The only time you should be worry about a disappearing friend is when they only come back when it’s convenient to them, that’s when you should drop them as that’s toxic behavior. I hope this helps a bit and this is entirely my perspective on this so other people might be a bit different, but it’ll mostly be the same concept.

    • Anonymous

      Forgot to say that “rest” means mentality. Think of it like meditation! That’s why they may not texts or call, because they are busy getting the mind under control. This generally could mean they don’t feel like them self, So don’t take offense whenever they do this it’s just a habit to have a healthy mind. (They could also be overwhelm with physical stuff, ex. work.)

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