How to handle awkward questions like "Why did you unfriend me?"

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By: jocke66 – CC BY 2.0
By: jocke66CC BY 2.0
I'm planning a Facebook-friend cull of the people in my friends list whom I don't feel especially close to. The thing that's making me put off the cull is the fear of being asked "Why did you unfriend me?" as this has happened during previous culls.

The honest answers range between, "I don't know you well enough to feel comfortable having you look at all my photos and statuses," and "I just don't feel close enough to you." But do I owe these people (none of whom are close friends) an explanation?

What do fellow Homies do in this situation? Do you ignore the messages? Have blanket statements prepared? Tell them the hard truth? -Natalie

GREAT question, because, sadly, this is a pretty universal problem now. So unfrienders and the unfriended: How do YOU handle this awkward social situation?

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  1. I have to admit, I got around this by being chicken! I used to do facebook culls all the time, but now I've discovered 'unfollow' I don't do it as often as I used to. When you unfollow people, you're still friends and they can see all your stuff, but you don't get anything of theirs clogging up your newsfeed.

    If you're uncomfortable with them seeing your things, you can be even more cowardly and just change your own privacy settings so they can't see anything you post. A tip for the super-cowardly!!

    I've only ever been surprised by someone unfriending me a couple of times – once was actually someone who had been a good friend in the past and I still considered us friends, even if we were distant. I didn't write to her, though, I just took the hint..

    Nobody has ever written to me to ask why I unfriended them, which I guess means they haven't noticed or weren't too bothered, and I'm pretty sure I haven't unfriended anyone who still considered us friends. But I think if someone had, I'd have been flattered they noticed, and perhaps re-considered being facebook friends with them after all! In which case I'd say something like:

    "Wow, I have to admit I didn't think we were particularly close any more, and had thought by now you wouldn't be too bothered about not hearing from me again. I'm obviously wrong, and I'm sorry about that! Tell me how you're doing, and what's going on in life with you right now?"

    31 agree
    • I use the "unfollow" a lot too – but then I get the awkward question of, "didn't you see my facebook post?" Then I act surprised and say, "No!! How did I miss this?!??!!"

      If anyone has caught on they haven't said anything…and it makes my life much easier. I don't post enough that I'm worried about people seeing my stuff…

      15 agree
      • I've done this, often with a philosophical musing about how I don't understand how facebook decides what it shows people.

        23 agree
    • The only time this has ever gotten weird is recently when someone who had unfriended me on Facebook then told my parents that I was invited to her wedding. Are you sure? I asked my mom. Did she say the whole family is invited and did she specifically say me? We are still not sure and I am not sure if I should attend because obviously she felt there was a reason to unfriend me, but feels that I am close enough (I have known her since she was 8) to invite me to a wedding.

      3 agree
      • My childhood best friend once unfriended me. No big deal, no hard feelings, we just hadn't seen each other in ten years and had very different lives. A few months later, she friended me again, seemingly for the sole purpose of inviting me to her baby shower. I declined, but several years later she is still on my newsfeed. Weird, I guess, but no big deal.

        4 agree
      • I could see this happening in a couple of ways.

        One, you're part of a group of people that she cares about. If your families are close, or she's inviting many old friends, this would make sense. In this case, if she's inviting other people you'd like to hang out with, and it's at a location that's fairly convenient for you, you'd probably have a good time going.

        Two – You two have a lot in common when you talk in person, but not when you talk online. Maybe she's obsessed with chia pets and angels, and you're into kittens and politics. Maybe she uses facebook for Candy Crush and she's hurt that you keep on declining her invites. People use facebook in weird ways, and they often aren't compatible.
        However, to stay friends after separating online, the friendship needs to be renewed in the real world, and she should probably be the one to make a first move there. Inviting you to her party may be her way of stepping up.

        Three – Her guest list is half written by her mother.

        9 agree
    • I go through a system, essentially with friend groups with different access levels. Top level is seeing all of my photos and posts and statuses (The 'Statusers') who are people I like and am actively in contact with, like close friends and family.

      Down from there is 'Somebody I Used to Know' – people I was once close with, but have drifted away from, like high school friends. I still see their statuses and such, but they don't get access to everything, as I exclude them from more personal things I put on facebook.

      Then I have 'Extended Family' and 'Once Removed'. Essentially these are people I have on facebook so that I can contact them if needed, but I don't particularly care to see their stuff or have them see mine. My crazy, racist aunt is on there, so I don't have to see her particular crazy, but can still contact her when family functions happen. My sister-in-law's mother is also on here, because she's nice and I've gotten a recipe from her, but… really, I don't know her so she doesn't get to be up to date on my personal feelings.

      And finally, I have my 'Quarantine' list. This is a list where, for all intents and purposes, I've already unfriended them, but, if I really want, I can still creep their statuses and such, to see if they noticed me disappearing from their feed. If someone makes it down the lists and spends time in quarantine without noticing or commenting, I then quietly unfriend them, drama free. And if someone gets unfriended without the slow die process, then it means I had a good reason, and I can then either tell them it, or just ignore them. If someone notices during the process, I can then re-assess what access I want to give them, or if i want to unfriend them anyway. It means the cull process takes more work, going through each list and choosing if people get downgraded or not, but it means when I get to the quarantine list, there are no bad feelings about the unfriending.

      25 agree
  2. I have been in this situation and I just shoot for diplomatic honesty. "We had grown apart and our differences had become an obstacle for me." "I decided I did not have 500 people I truly considered friends and made a deliberate choice to narrow my circle to those I am close to." "It's easily been five years since either of us has interacted on here; I'm honestly surprised you noticed." "I grew tired of your regular passive-aggressive replies to my posts." "Your constant gym check-ins and hashtag overuse drove me bonkers." Okay, maybe I didn't actually say that last one. But I certainly thought it.

    16 agree
  3. I've a few friends who do a big grandstand announcement telling everyone they're about to cull.

    Others, like myself,just cull, I don't tend to have many people to cull anyway, and it's usually after a drunken night out that I add more "friends" so I don't really have much guilt in getting rid of them. Especially since my children are on there as well.

    I've never had the awkward question about why I have culled, but I did have to deal with why a friend culled a mutual friend. Awkward mainly because I had no idea it had happened, or why, especially since they were friends on another social network site still.

    Not real sure I've been any help… Sorry.

    • I have a friend that will make a big to-do over cutting people and why. Honestly I don't know at the end of the day if she really cuts people or not. Her reason is people she does not really know (she is blind and belongs to a lot of online groups for blind and visually impaired people and I think she makes "Friends" with them online. My option is keep the people you actually "know" in person. I don't have any friends on Facebook I don't personally know (barring fan based stuff like George Takai)).

  4. It's an awkward one for sure. One thing I did last time was set a status to public for a few weeks afterwards, which briefly mentioned that I had cleaned up my Facebook friend list, limiting it to close friends and family only. It wasn't anything overly flashy. I just made it clear that the cull wasn't due to a personal grudge or anything like that, but rather, it was just that we didn't see/talk to each other that much/if at all anymore. I think a lot of the time, these post-deletion messages come from a fear of rejection and also that they've upset you in some way, rather than anything else. If you were closer, you wouldn't be considering deleting them anyway.

    I guess because of the way social media has become so central in so many people's lives, people forget that friends drift into acquaintances, and we don't necessarily want to share intimate details of our lives with everyone. I don't know if we should have to apologise for drifting apart from people, it's only natural, but I think explanations can sometimes be good.

    6 agree
  5. I have defriended people. Mainly ex-c0-workers or people I knew growing up that I "knew" when I was 10/13 years old, but when moved away and go back in touch I had nothing in common with our 40+ year old self. In the case of the ex-co-workers, it was not because they were ex-c0-workers and I don't work at the company at more (trust me I still have ex-co-workers as friends), but the only reason I friended them was because I was "friends" with at work, but when realizing that I really did not have anything in common with them anymore (compared to the ex-co-workers in which I do, past work ad actually still have somewhat of a relationship), then I did not feel bad defriending them.
    I do have a couple friends that go through phases were they get mad at everyone at defriend them or shut down Facebook or re-friend them again. But I know they do that. But luckily I have never had a family member or friend defriend me without telling me why (the couple that have was because they just wanted off Facebook, it was nothing personal).

    1 agrees
  6. I would treat it like wedding invites – "sorry, I like to keep my numbers down so I don't miss anything from close friends and family. I wish you all the best!"

    29 agree
  7. I've used a few variations, when dealing with this or "hey, I sent you a friend request and we're not friends yet."

    I tend to stick with the excuse that facebook's ever changing terms of service make me concerned for my privacy, and so my friends are strictly family and close personal friends, not work/social group/old school chum people.

    I also have a daughter, so I find that bringing up her privacy helps support the argument.

    5 agree
  8. I regularly cut down my friends list on Facebook because I like to keep my friends list under 100. I must have gotten lucky over the years, though, because nobody's ever come back at me asking why I unfriended them. I have unfollowed a lot of extended family members, where the drop would probably be noticed and cause unneccessary drama within the family (no, I don't need to see what your kid did in the potty this morning, or what you made for lunch, or get spammed with your most recent pyramid scheme product). By unfollowing, we're still on each others' friends list, but I can't see any of their updates unless I actively check out their profile.

    I have one unfriend redemption story. I unfriended a girl I went to high school with several years ago because her statuses were unnecessarily aggressive and full of profanity and I just didn't need to see that every day. A few years later, she re-sent me a friend request and I was pleasantly surprised to see that she had significantly toned down her online persona.

    I also had the ex-boyfriend that would re-send me friend requests a day or two after I unfriended him. This happened 3 times over the course of two or three years. We didn't speak, and he would never answer my attempts at messaging him, but he was obviously still paying attention to my profile. I defriended him for the last time a couple weeks after I got married and he must have gotten the message after that 🙂

    2 agree
  9. I've just made an entirely new account and added the people I wanted on there. Then just deactivate the other one or ignore it. If someone asks you what's up, just say you quit Facebook or don't have time for it anymore

    2 agree
  10. I have never culled friends, because I am a Facebook extrovert BUT I have been culled myself by others, and honestly, it makes me think about whether I should have put more effort into staying in touch with that person so that this didn't happen. If I find that the answer is yes, I make an effort outside of Facebook; if the answer is no, no great loss. Either way, no fault on the part of the culler.

    10 agree
  11. In all honestly, people are unlikely to come back and ask why you're not friends anymore, especially if you've grown apart as friends or if they're a former coworker or acquaintance. The only exception I've come across is toxic friendships or exes that needs to be cut loose. Block them on all social media avenues you're connected to including phone and email and you avoid confrontation and any cut off any potential for them to weasel their way back into your life. I had initially only blocked this sort of person on social media, then had to deal with shitty emails and texts demanding that I owed them an answer (in one case, it took someone 2 years to realize we were no longer FB friends and they wouldn't stop calling/texting/emailing after that). The truth is you don't owe anyone an answer unless you choose to give one. When it comes to cleaning up unhealthy relationships in your life, your priority is to yourself. I feel like I've read something either on OBH or OBB that said that you don't need to qualify a rejection with an explanation as it can give the impression that your decision is open to negotiation and they will try to counter your answer. That just opens up an unnecessary avenue for drama.

    17 agree
  12. You can change the status of your friends to be "acquaintances" on facebook and then set your default to post everything to friends excluding acquaintances. I have some folks on my facebook that are part of my real life social network, but that I'm not close enough to that I want them to see my mini-work rant or a picture of me in a costume at a con or whatever. I set them to acquaintance and then if we become closer friends I can always adjust their setting.

    For people that I used to be friends with but when I see them on my newsfeed I legit cannot remember how I know them without going to their profile, I just unfriend them from the get go. I've never had someone come back and ask me why they unfriended me.

    6 agree
  13. Every single time I've done this, absolutely NO ONE has commented or seemingly noticed.
    I started getting a lot of friend requests from people I went to high school with as our 10-year reunion neared, so I just changed my cover photo to this. I think alternate wording might be "Hi, I'm using Facebook mainly for [x] so I'm limiting who sees my feed. If you want to follow me and see the FUN stuff, visit [public social network url]!"

    6 agree
  14. I'm not sure you need to worry. I don't defriend often (I just unsubscribe, and will put them on a list of people who see almost nothing I post), but when I have, nobody has ever asked me why. I once ran into a guy who defriended me on the high speed rail (yeah, I don't live in the USA) and I had noticed, and had wondered why as although we were not close friends and probably never would be, we were solid professional connections to each other and there were no grudges etc. that I knew of.

    I tried to sort of avoid him, feeling like, "he defriended me, I don't really want to talk to him", hoping I could get around without being seen (I wouldn't just ignore someone openly that I didn't dislike or hate). But, I was not successful and he spotted me. I let him pretend he saw me before I saw him. He seemed happy to see me and was all insistent that we sit next to each other on the train as trains at that time of night never fill up (nobody would be asking for their seat back) and we had a nice chat all the way back to Taipei.

    The whole time I thought "you defriended me…you defriended me…this is totally fake…yeah…you defriended me".

    But I never said anything. He gave me his card, we said our goodbyes and I have not talked to him since.

  15. The couple times I've done a Facebook culling, I did one of those big "I'm going to be doing some friends list clean up. I'm going to be doing it for x, y or z reasons. I wanted to let you all know so there's no surprises."

    I've never had someone reach out to me personally afterward with a "why did you unfriend me?" message. If I did get one, I'd be honest.

    The vast majority of the time it's people I've not spoken to or interacted with in some time and, while I hold nothing personal, I thought it was a smart idea since we had moved apart not only in person but also on Facebook. I would also include that if we grow closer again, I'd be happy to friend them on again.

  16. So I defriended the people who had been my closest friends through school and college. Although we all went different directions in terms of degrees and employments and where we lived, certain members of the group kept up the best friends status and I wasn't in that group. C'est la vie, social groups change.

    For a while I had them hidden on facebook so I didn't see their stuff although I think they could see mine. I reached a point where I thought sod it, why pretend to be friends anymore? So I unfriended them.

    Only one of them took it badly to my knowledge. I rather promptly received a message detailing her latest news of miscarrying twins who had different dads and she didn't need my betrayal or all this shit.

    Whether this was true or not, I dont know (my gut says no). However, if it was attention seeking tantrum behaviour, responding would only feed it further. If it was true, even to an extent, she clearly had much closer friends than me to be supporting her.

    I guess I'm saying just don't interact with them. I did it and nobody died

    3 agree
  17. I've only had one person directly ask me why I unfriended them (albeit in a passive-aggressive way from what I can recall)–and this was at least six or seven years ago. I told her the truth: we didn't talk anymore and I had no interest in keeping her friended offline or online. That was the end of that.
    Since then, everyone I've unfriended never asked me why. Considering how you can hide people's posts and if you have a lot of active posters it's also likely that they didn't even notice until way after the fact.

  18. I did a mass unfriending of 300+ people and not once have I heard anything about it. And actually a good 50 of them were people that had deactivated their pages and I hadn't noticed. I figured if I hadn't noticed that you were gone, maybe we shouldn't be friends.

    I did not write a post about it. No one needs to know where they are in the hierarchy of my friends and family. I also don't post anything about deactivating my Facebook when I do that. If people have questions, they can contact me. No one has.

    And if people re-friend me, I always add them back. Unless I unfriended them for being creepy. If someone makes the effort to press the friend button, I can make the effort to press accept.

    4 agree
  19. No one has EVER asked me why I unfriended them.

    Out of the people that I KNOW unfriended me, I pretty much know why, except for one. But I can guess, and quite frankly, good riddance.

    I think you may be stressing over this for no reason. If they get butthurt about it, that's their problem.

    If they ask, be honest. I mean, you don't have to be rude about it, but say "we're not that close anymore, I'm cleaning up my feed" or "I'm limiting things for privacy reasons." If they don't understand that, they might not be people that you need up in your business anyway.

    1 agrees
  20. I try to keep my friends down to around 150 people at any given time, which sometimes means shuffling people off my list on the regular OR being pre-emptive in not adding them arbitrarily. I let people know when I meet them that a) I don't friend coworkers until we no longer work together (I might make a work facebook page, since I'm an adjunct community college faculty instructor and it might benefit me to have one for coworkers and some students), b) I add people easily, but also delete easily as well. My husband as even told people when he meets them 'don't be offended when she unfriends you, it has nothing to do with how she actually feels about you in real life. and if you want to be back on her fb feed, just add her again. c) cut family first. Family is forever, so I delete family members more easily than friends. My sister wasn't on my friends list for 2 years because of that.

    I also get rid of people that I only used to facebook stalk their shiny life. So people from elementary school who I don't actually care about meeting up with again, but liked looking at their cool beer pictures, I unfriend. Sometimes it feels painful in the minute it happens because *gasp* I won't feel comfortable adding them back, it makes it a lot better in the long run. And if people de-activate their account, I unfriend them (and will friend them again when they're done with their technology detox).

    I like the unfollow button, but it still doesn't get rid of the fact that at any given time 500 people could b e reading my stuff. That's why I keep it low.

  21. May I suggest altering the way you think of this question? Because I see "Why did you unfriend me?" as meaning, "I look at your Facebook profile or look forward to your comments on my page enough that I noticed when you were gone." I recommend a response like, "I've been making some changes in my social media, but I would love to stay in touch with you. Here's my email address/phone number so that we can continue to talk. Please feel free to email/text/call me anytime." That puts the ball in their court and allows them to reach out to you if, in fact, you underestimated how important you are to them. Of course, this approach should only be used for people you aren't actively avoiding. In that case, just ignore them.

    10 agree
  22. Once I unfriended 20 people or so (can't remember who they were) two of them sent me friend requests almost immediately (old highschool aqcuantances). Another person sent me a message asking me why, so I told her that I didn't knew that it was that important to her so I friended her again, she was a girl from another country who I did not know in person. Finally, she once made a very racist comment ("Hail white europe"), comment that I responded to, very offended. So I deleted her again, no explanations, no questions, I guess I should have left her unfriended in the first place.

    You can aleays say:
    *We barely interact, or, we barely know eachother, or -this one is applicable to Mexico- "for personal safety reasons I prefer to mantain my facebook friends only to people whom I'm very close to".
    *Didn't you change accounts? or *I must have been confused with another person. (it's coward but sometimes you just don't have anything else to say, when they are family, for example).
    *Or simply just be bold about it: I'm sick of pseudo relationships on facebook, we are not that close… or something like that.

  23. This really shouldn't be a problem bec. these days, you don't get a notification when you've been unfriended on Facebook. A person has to hunt around to find out that they are not mutually friended on Facebook — such as by going to the former friend's page & now seeing it's restricted (only if you, the former friend, have your page set to display some things to friends-only & some things to public) & seeing a "do you know PersonName? Send friend request." at the top. Very few people go to other people's pages; mostly, people interact with their news feed & maybe with groups. So the main way someone might notice you've unfriended them is that they won't see your content in their newsfeed — and with Facebook changing the display algorithm all the time, who knows why things are displayed when anyway! If someone sees you IRL & asks 'hey haven't seen you on Facebook recently," it's easy enough to say, "oh, I've been busy & trying to limit my social media time." Which is honest.

    1 agrees
  24. I make a public announcement before I cull, informing everybody that I'm trying to reduce my friends list to the people I'm closest with, and to please not take it personally if they've been removed. And then, if they feel like it's really in error, they should send me a message and we can talk about it.

    Usually, the people around me are as glad to have one less person on their list as I am to have 50 fewer. But if somebody did message me, I'd discuss it with them. "We've never actually met in real life, though, and while I'd like to get to know you better, I'd rather do that offline, instead of through facebook." -This is usually the case with people I cull. "I understand that we're related, but since we've never met and live several states apart, I figure it's enough to just post on the family facebook page every now and again." -The other main case. :/ I have the bad habit of adding people on facebook I've not actually met, but would like to meet. And sometimes, we do, and sometimes, it's great! But sometimes, I realize that I have 150 facebook friends and I only really know like, 40 of them.

    2 agree
  25. I did have someone ask why I unfriended him–he emailed me to point out I'd disappeared from his friends list, and he wanted to know if he'd done something to offend me. The honest answer was that we'd dated for a bit and when it didn't work out, I wanted a clean break. But I chickened out and said I'd been tinkering with the FB language settings and goofed and unfriended some people, including him. So I re-friended him and then quietly undid it again recently. If I could do it again, I'd tell him the diplomatic truth, that we weren't close anymore and I try to keep my friends list to family and close friends.

  26. I cull people periodically, and I believe I've only had someone ask me why I unfriended them once… and it was someone I was not close to _at all_, and he noticed within a day. That seriously creeped me out, so I answered honestly (just removing some people from old social circles) and blocked him.

  27. I always found the people I didn't know well or that I was never close with asked. However I've unfriended people I did know well for various reasons. If they asked why I just told the truth. Some respected that others found themselves blocked.

  28. I have a rule for myself that if someone unfriends me and then comes back years later and friend requests me again, I decline it. This has led to some vitriol, with those people questioning why I won't accept their new request. I say, whatever your reasons were to unfriend me in the first place, probably still exist, so let's not bother.

    Otherwise, I just say that I'm keeping my list restricted to family and close friends.

  29. I have never had someone ask this of me, but I HAVE been that person! I use FB Purity, so a huge popup shows up as soon as someone unfriends you, and it is kind of like a slap in the face. It isn't like you're creeping around, it is just brought to your attention that they deleted you. It is especially upsetting when you can see that it happened right after they posted on one of your threads, so you know what they must have been thinking when they dropped you. When I messaged the person, I did it because I enjoyed being connected to the person, and in their case, I was anticipating seeing them at an upcoming event. I wasn't actually as awkward as to ask them why they unfriended me, I just said that I was sad that they had unfriended me, explained the above, and then left it at that. They actually said that they had unfriended me by mistake and re-friended me.

    I used to do the "unfollow/hide" thing, but I have recently found that Facebook is hiding people from my news feed that I am still following, and I think some of it has to do with the fact that I just have too many "dead friends" in my network. I know it isn't because they are hiding content from me, because if I go to their page, I will still see things. So I have been making a real effort to prune my connections, and it is slowly making a difference. I am deleting friends that I no longer interact with, and then I am making an effort to actually click "like" on posts for other people I want to see more regularly, because it seems like the FB algorithms depend on that.

    I have other friends who regularly do large-scale cullings, and they usually do a warning post, and say that if you really want to be re-added, to message them. These are people who tend to use Facebook differently. I know some people like to keep their network small and intimate, while others use it as a wide and more expansive network.

    1 agrees
  30. I've had a couple people ask. In one case, I had no memory of unfriending her, and she obviously had no memory of unfriending me, so we put it down to a glitch and re-friended. Another time, I had someone ask almost a year after I'd deleted him, and I was honest: "I felt a need to simplify my life, so I unfriended a bunch of people I don't talk to regularly. I'd be happy to reconnect if you'd like!" He said he understood but still wanted to stay in touch, so we re-friended. I imagine this would work with most people (with or without the offer to reconnect).

    I'm currently trying to figure out how to avoid responding to a friend request that just came in from a relative. It's kind of an important person in my husband's family, but I DO NOT want her to have access to anything I've ever posted on Facebook, because she is ultra-religious and I am ultra-critical of religion online and I don't want to make Thanksgivings awkward. Meh.

    2 agree
  31. I avoid FB as much as possible, but the same thing happened/happens on livejournal. I tended to wait until I was going to cull my list a lot & mention it casually in a public post right before — with the exception of people I *knew* were going to cause drama about it (usually by whining at my partners, not me) who got to stay but got taken off the list of people I read/could read most of my posts.

    Also, I really have to take this opportunity to direct people to Kate Miller-Heidke's marvelous (NSFW) song about facebook and ex-es

    2 agree
  32. I can't recall ever being asked, but if I was I would just emphasize that I felt like I was spending too much time on Facebook and needed to step back from it, and part of that was reducing my friends list down to bare minimum of people I was closest to. It's true and relatively diplomatic, and it puts the emphasis on me taking care of my own needs rather than anything about them, so hopefully they'll feel less singled out or attacked. I might even say that I wanted to deactivate Facebook entirely because it was eating too much of my time and attention, but worried about the political ramifications with my closest friends and family, so I just did a hefty cull, keeping only those who I thought I couldn't get away with unfriending. There certainly have been times that this has been true.

  33. I actually had someone who unfriended me because she was mad at me and then was upset that I didn’t ask her why she unfriended me. The person is my SIL and at the time she was a very negative person (she has greatly improved in the last two years) and would have daily rants about people who wronged her (I had actually unfollowed her because I didn’t want to see the rants anymore – I had noticed that she had unfriended me because it was her anniversary so I went to send my BIL/SIL a message). My husband and his brother were going through some rocky times. I had not had contact with my BIL or SIL is a while because my husband had asked me to stay out of things with them while he tried to work things out with his brother. I thought it was a bit odd that she had unfriended me since I hadn’t done anything or had any interaction with her in months. When I noticed that she unfriended me I talked to my husband about it and he told me to let it be and not to rock the boat so that’s what I did (note: my husband and his brother had just got in a fight a couple days earlier about the fact that two months earlier my BIL said he was broke and couldn’t afford my husband’s bachelor party so my husband asked someone else to plan, and now my BIL was offended that my husband asked someone else). About a month later my SIL also unfriended my husband because she heard a rumor that he said something rude at her wedding. My BIL/SIL were furious with my husband but he was oblivious for a week since my BIL was refusing to answer his calls or return his messages (less than a week before this happened my husband and BIL sat down and my BIL agreed to tell my husband when they were mad at us since they had been bottling up things for months/years that we didn’t even know about). A week later my FIL told my husband that my BIL/SIL were mad at him. His brother took another week to finally answer his phone when my husband called. This was about a month before our wedding.

  34. One reason that I've told someone that is absolutely true was "Your life was too awesome and I found myself envying instead of enjoying your posts." and luckily because they were a truly awesome person they understood… but it's true… sometimes I friend people in my hobby community and I end up wishing I had their lives instead of enjoying the life I have and I have to unfriend them.

    For people that I unfriend for other reasons and who ask politely, I usually explain with a "please don't take this personally but we hadn't connected in a while so I didn't think you would mind." I might re-friend them after having that conversation, but if they are rude or super offended by it I let our friend status stay the same.

    1 agrees
  35. After I unfriend someone, I block them. I don't want to pop in their "people you may know" section, and then they notice that we're not "friends" anymore. That just adds to the drama, IMO. I pretty much only unfriend people that I never see IRL anymore, so it really has only ever come up once, years and years later.

    2 agree
    • That's a good idea! Then if for some reason they notice, they'll assume you've gone from facebook if they go hunting for your profile.

    • People can still find out you've blocked them if they Google your name and find a listing for your profile that they can't access. At least that's how I check if someone has blocked me.

  36. I just do it and it's something I do regularly. I guess people most of the time just get your reason why and move on, for me I suspect they're aware of the distance and don't particularly care. I've only ever gotten one "why" and I easily explained it as, "we don't talk anymore especially on here. If you would like to rebuild our friendship you already have my phone number so give me a text sometime and we can hang out our something." If people don't have my phone number I have no problems with deleting them. So long as you're not the main thing in their news feed most people don't notice but of course your milage may vary and there are neurotic people that do check these things.

  37. I used to do this, and when confronted about it I would be pretty blunt. 'When was the last time we spoke?' 'We never speak'. Now I don't use facebook for much of anything except sharing links to other things I'm on (blogs, youtube, etc) so I leave whoever on it since no one is seeing anything personal anyway.

  38. What would you say in this situation: my sister in law is not my favorite person, so I removed her and blocked her from my Facebook. She asks me all the time why I am not her Facebook friend, and despite changing my privacy settings she still manages to see my stuff. (I'm guessing my mother in law logs in on her account so my sister in law can snoop.) What do I say to her? I don't want to be rude, but how is she not getting the hint?

  39. I recently had to do a little culling due to my divorce. My ex and I are friends but his family makes everything their business and have recently turned super toxic… Stalking events I'm attending, stealing photos of my kids to re-post without permission, and posting every passive-aggressive "you suck" meme they can find on my wall. Le sigh. They are definitely the type of people to make a stink when they realize I've unfriended them… I'm just sort of waiting.

  40. My method is to completely avoid this situation. I don't delete, but mainly because I decided some years ago that Facebook was NOT the place to share anything important to me. I don't have to worry about random people from the past knowing about my life because I don't post it, and I don't worry about offending said randos by deleting them because there's no reason to do so: I don't mind sharing memes with randos! Whatever. My real close friends learn about my life by actually talking to me in person, on the phone, or via an email message. The public nature of Facebook severely over-complicates friendships. I've lost friendships over Facebook. It's not worth it to me. I'd rather "cull" myself out of it than risk hurting perfectly fine people's feelings. People take Facebook seriously, and I recognize that. Look at all the suicides in the news related to social media.

    On that not I actually have a friend who deleted me off of Facebook due to political differences (re: tldr arguments) but he is still my friend in real life. That's right, you can still be friendly After Delete. But not everyone realizes that friendship AD is possible.

    1 agrees
  41. Friends I get rid of on a whim as part of a large cull I generally don't mind too much if they raise a fuss. I answer honestly that I felt we were growing apart but accept their re-friending. If it's someone I really don't care to see I unfollow them.

    For people I feel a little more strongly about getting rid of I block them first. If I feel it would cause social drama to actually cut them I just live in the limbo of having them technically on my list, but blocked and unfollowed. Otherwise I just hope that blocking them from my posts allows me to drift out of their consciousness so that when I do unfriend them they won't notice. Hasn't always worked but I try not to feel too guilty.

    I stress a lot about imbalanced friendships, though. People who like me a lot more than I like them. This isn't to say I "dislike" them; it's positive vs neutral not vs negative. But I know for some people neutral is almost worse than having some strong negative feeling. I do find this issue manifests itself on Facebook a lot and I find a part of me wishing we were back in a time which when we close a chapter in our lives we can fully move on without our past relationships following us (literally, in the sense of a newsfeed) into the new phase. I comfort myself, however, by recognizing a couple of facts: 1) I only have so much time and energy to spend on only so many relationships; 2) there are far more amazing individuals in the world who would totally be worth my choosing to spend time on. I have to choose somehow. I will inevitably be missing out on someone if I choose someone else. How I make that choice is up to me, but I really shouldn't feel guilty about making that choice, especially if it is between two equals. Furthermore, because I have only so much time shouldn't I pick people I actually enjoy being around? If the choice isn't between equals shouldn't I pick the superior choice? You wouldn't tell someone to stay in a romantic relationship their heart wasn't truly in it just because they felt guilty, so why do we act as if this is the way to handle non-romantic friendships? Besides, would you want a friend who stays around just because they feel guilty to leave?

    I know this went to a slightly tangential subject, but essentially my point is: choose to keep and foster friendships that enrich your life. Whether it's close IRL relationships or simply Facebook connections. And don't feel guilty about stepping away from those who don't. In the case of Facebook, if you feel ambivalent and keeping someone on your list doesn't really make a difference one way or another and they want to stay on, don't make a mountain out of a mole hill and let them back on. At the end of the day this is your life, your time, and your energy. You have the right to spend it however you see fit.

  42. What's interesting is that people equate "friends IRL" and "friends on Facebook". Definitely not the same in my book. Just because we had a great laugh over a movie in a hostel in Latvia 4 years ago doesn't mean I want to see your life, or want you to see my life once I'm back home. Not the same as the friend who got us through a beak-up or a grandma's death or extended unemployment.

    Also, if I want to "unfriend" someone in real life, I just stop contacting them, period. I don't see the point in letting them know I'm going to stop contacting them. Friendships fall apart, it's part of normal life, and even if we had a fight, there's no point in calling them to say "hey, I'm not going to talk to you anymore". So I don't get why all the fuss about explaining oneself about culling on Facebook.

    Last, from my experience, the people who want to know why they've been culled just want to pick a fight. Don't worry about them.

    2 agree
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