When you find yourself blocked on social media or more bluntly, cut off from a relationship, no matter the circumstances, it can be a painful experience. Dealing with the aftermath of being cut off involves actively dealing with the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that follow.
On understanding and working through these emotions of sadness, anger, grief, or confusion, we can then try to work out realistic ways in which we can work out such a situation.
How do you deal with being blocked by your friends?
So, the person you considered a trusted friend has blocked you- your calls are not connecting, your messages are undelivered, and all their social media accounts are inaccessible through your own account.
It is here that many questions arise and with it many emotions. You might find yourself wondering what has led to this response from them;
Did I do something wrong?
There may be emotions of panic and sadness that arise in the moments after you realize what has happened and often these emotions are accompanied by thoughts that may be biased. These emotions of sadness, panic, even anger can have a major impact on the way you see the world, other people, and yourself. ‘
You might begin to see yourself as the one at fault and may begin to assess yourself negatively- I am a terrible friend, I always fail to protect my friends and my relationships., I don’t deserve to have friends.
Or you might even begin to assume faults in the other party; “How dare they? “Why is she not giving me a chance to explain myself?” “He is such a petty friend!” “How can they do this to me?”
Why do people block friends on social media?
It is at this moment of chaos and confusion that one must invite yourself to understand that while you are struggling with emotions such as these so must your friend be facing the same thing.
One must realize that taking the drastic step to cut off another person comes from an emotional place seeking only to remove the cause of distress.
This particular behavior is called ‘emotional cut-off’ originally used in the context of a family setting. The term was coined by Murray Bowen in his studies of families.
This behavior is how people manage their unresolved emotional issues with their family by distancing themselves or isolating themselves in a bid to cut ties from them.
“The concept of emotional cutoff describes how people manage their unresolved emotional issues with parents, siblings, and other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them…Relationships may look “better” if people cutoff to manage them, but the problems are dormant, not resolved.”
This behavior is often exhibited when people are not taught to deal with emotions- express and communicate them effectively and assertively- and hence are unable to resolve conflicts between them and others during their younger years.
This pattern of behavior is learnt over the years and often bleeds into friendships and romantic relationships.
So how does this apply to you? Invite yourself to reflect on the relationships that you share with this person. What kind of relationship do you have? Is it an important one or is this person just an acquaintance that has no real impact on your personal well-being and growth?
Now if this person is only an acquaintance that you have met through mutual friends, there would be no reason for you to be distressed over this particular development.
So assuming that this friendship means something to you, it is important that you take a step here to reflect on how you are feeling at the moment.
Is it anger? Is it sadness? Is it guilt? Or something else entirely.
It is by reflecting on the way you feel, we can come up with a strategy to resolve this particular challenge that you and your friend are facing. It is important for you to remember that your friend is not the problem here, but rather the ‘why’ that you both face.
Friendships, boundaries, and the virtual world
You must at this point understand that in today’s world, the block button can be akin to something like a wall. A boundary.
The virtual world is a real space as much as the physical world is and much like the physical world has and needs boundaries, so does the virtual world.
In fact, there is much more need to regulate our boundaries within the virtual world because of the fact that the present generation has more reliance on the virtual domain on an everyday basis.
So what is a boundary?
Upsidertherapy defines a boundary as,
a line (real or virtual) that creates a defined place where your responsibility ends and another person’s begins, or where one part of your life ends and another begins.
The key point here being where one’s responsibility ends and the other’s begins.
Every healthy relationship needs to have clearly defined boundaries that clarify rules on how to treat others and set expectations of how one is to be treated.
It is often through clear communication that one can set boundaries with their family, friends, and romantic partners.
However, in this case, the boundary has been created without communication which might be the cause of distress for the person who has been left facing a wall that you did not agree to build- you.
So by your friend setting up the virtual wall between the two of you, you have to understand that this situation is not entirely up to you. The situation is not in your control in the way that you cannot control your friend to unblock you.
Much like you learn to respect boundaries in the physical world- one must understand that in this particular situation, what you can do and what you do have control over is yourself- your thoughts, your feelings, and your behavior.
Dealing with thoughts
Before we get into some of the ways you can deal with you thoughts, you have to remember that the thoughts that are present in your mind are assumptions and irrational until you hear the other side of the story.
So what you can do for yourself at the moment is:
- Distract yourself:
Take a walk, paint something, read a book, go to the movies.
Take a mental break from the thoughts in your head and the emotions you are feeling because what has been done has happened and is out of your control.
Research has found that cognitive diffusion or thought distraction was linked to lowered emotional discomfort.
- Rationalize your thoughts
You can take a moment to write down your fears and assumptions and look at them objectively to understand what is healthy and what is not.
Thoughts that are extreme or catastrophizing are cognitive distortions assumptions that only harm you.
So identifying the thoughts that are catastrophizing, emotional reasoning, mislabelling, or overgeneralizing can be a way to help you become aware of them and catch yourself from engaging in them.
Dealing with emotions:
If the emotion that you are feeling is anger and indignation of the way you have been treated, it is important to understand the thoughts that come with the feeling.
These thoughts could be related to you being treated unfairly or you not having a chance to understand the issue at hand or explain your side of the story.
In any case, it could even be caused by the sadness or grief of the possibility of losing a friend you cherish. Sadness is caused by the realization that perhaps your friend doesn’t treasure you enough to give you a chance.
Or guilt, that there may have been something you have done or said for them to act that way.
It is here that you must understand that you are in a highly emotional state and so is your friend.
So sending them a multitude of messages, trying to contact them through multiple fake accounts, emails, alternate phone numbers will not help.
It might cause a larger rift between the two of you.
So here is what you can do to deal with these emotions:
- Take a break
From the problem at hand, from social media, from your friend circle. Instead of isolating yourself and ruminating over the problem, spend some time engaging in activities that make you feel good. a break can help reset your mood and promote positive wellbeing and reducing stress
- Deep Breathing exercises
This exercises along with other mindful activities like meditation and yoga can be one way to regulate your emotions so that it does not dictate your thoughts and behavior. In fact, research has found that even informal meditation can lead to more positive emotions and healthier regulation of emotions.
Dealing with Behaviour
Working on your thought and emotions would have had a profound impact on your behavior as it has been assumed and proved by the practice and science of cognitive-behavioral theories.
While previously you might have attempted to call them a thousand times or emailed their pleas to meet up and resolve the issue.
Spending time on reflection on yourself, your feelings, and thoughts could have given way to spending more time with yourself and with others who are willing to give you the space to recover from the entire situation.
So what do you do now in regards to the friend who has blocked you?
This is a Learning Opportunity.
You do nothing because it is not your sole responsibility to fix this situation.
If you find that this situation has been caused by you, apologize without the expectation of forgiveness. Take this as a learning point from where you can teach yourself to do better by the people who trust you enough to consider you a friend.
You have to understand that the person who has cut you off is a real person too, with feelings that might have been hurt and like you, their behavior must have been driven by these emotions and thoughts of hurt.
So allow them the space they need because they clearly need it considering that they have blocked you- by forcefully creating that space.
If you are of no-fault, you move forward and live your life without the expectation that your friend will come back to you.
Instead, focus your energy on yourself and learn the ways to build healthier boundaries with your other relationships so that this situation does not occur again, if a conflict arises with your other relationships, healthy boundaries can open spaces for open communication instead of cut-offs.
Frequently asked questions related to “When a friend cuts you off: Blocked and Ignored.”
What does it mean if a friend blocks you?
If a friend blocks you, there must have been a million reasons- hurt, jealousy. Anger, miscommunication, it could even be a challenge within your relationship with them that has been left unresolved, There is no definite reason to why they did it unless they come clean and tell you themselves.
Why would my friend block me suddenly?
It could be because you have offended them, or there is something about your interests that do not fall in line with their beliefs, or maybe she has her own reason to block you without it being your fault or anything remotely related to you.
How do you contact a friend who blocked you?
You can use alternate numbers, different emails, or contact them through a family member or a mutual friend by expressing a sincere desire to resolve the issue.
Is blocking Immature?
One can say that blocking someone without an explanation is cowardly or immature but one must understand that drawing boundary does not entitle another person an explanation because these are your boundaries not theirs.
One way that you can maturely create boundaries is by communicating it to them assertively without the expectation of their acceptance and then proceeding to assert your boundaries with them be it by blocking them from your social media.
Should I block my friend?
It is a general understanding that blocking or unblocking people in your life is entirely up to you, there is no rhyme or reason why you have to explain yourself to the other person that you are blocking them- that why boundaries exist. If they are detrimental to your well-being, there is nothing that says that you can’t or that is morally wrong to do so.
Fredrickson, B.L., Arizmendi, C., Van Cappellen, P. et al. Do Contemplative Moments Matter? Effects of Informal Meditation on Emotions and Perceived Social Integration. Mindfulness 10, 1915–1925 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01154-2
Fredrickson BL. The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Am Psychol [Internet]. 2001 [cited 2019 Jan 16];56(3):218–26. Available from: http://doi.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.218
Masuda, A., Twohig, M. P., Stormo, A. R., Feinstein, A. B., Chou, Y. Y., & Wendell, J. W. (2010). The effects of cognitive defusion and thought distraction on emotional discomfort and believability of negative self-referential thoughts. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 41(1), 11-17.