The Day the Lights Went Out


There are a lot of things that can cause a person to leave your life. Sometimes it’s some deep and unforgivable bullshit that goes down that causes you to dislike or distrust the person and cut him off. Sometimes one person has enough and pulls a disappearing act. Sometimes life and circumstances just get in the way and before you know it you’ve lost touch with someone you used to speak with on a daily basis. As the saying goes, people come into your life for a reason or a season and not everyone is going to be there for the long haul.

But sometimes people leave your life without really leaving. Has this ever happened to you guys? You have a relationship of whatever kind with someone and it’s totally cool and then all of a sudden something changes. You don’t know how it happened or what it was and it’s sometimes so subtle that you can’t even pinpoint when it happens but all of a sudden this cool as shit friendship or relationship or whatever is a little…off.

At first you think you’re imagining it. Or you explain it away as the person having a bad day or an off week or something going on in her life that’s affecting her. Because it’s someone you’re cool with, you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, want to consider every possible explanation for his weird behaviour before you confront him. But as time passes, or incidents occur to which the person’s reaction is wildly different from what you’ve come to expect from them, you eventually realize that something has definitely changed. You don’t know what it is, but you know it has.

I like to compare this phenomenon to walking around a room you’re pretty familiar with. You don’t know it like the back of your hand, but you’ve been in it enough times to know what’s good. You know the layout, have a pretty good idea where the doors and electrical outlets are, you can find your way around. And then suddenly the lights go off and you’re in that room in complete darkness, fumbling around trying to find everything that was so accessible just a moment ago.

Having a friend or a lover abruptly turn out the lights on me has to be the all-time most frustrating thing ever. It’s happened to me four times in my life and three out of the four times the relationship was never the same again. Now matter how much time passes, now matter what answers or explanations are eventually given, no matter if the lights are turned back on as abruptly as they were shut off, In my experience, relationships of any kind are rarely able to recover from something like this. That might just be me though – after having gone through it three too many times, I’ve lost the inclination to regain what was lost once the person recovers from their dramatic moment and starts acting normal again. These days when I recognize that it’s happening I just go ghost because I don’t even want to deal with it – my anticipatory retaliation, if you will.

To me, turning off the lights on someone is about the ulitmate in selfish prick behaviour; but again I think my perception of it might be influenced by my past experiences. I mean – life is dynamic and fluid right? Sometimes they way we think or feel about someone changes against our will and it’s only natural that our behaviour toward that person would change as well, right? And maybe sometimes people turn off the lights without realizing they’re doing it. Or maybe they realize it but aren’t able to articulate why. And is that such a bad thing?

I don’t know, but maybe you guys do. What do you think, my dear readers? Has this ever happened to you or is it just me? Have you ever abruptly changed the way you interacted with someone you’re close to without knowing or telling them why? Is this a bitchass move or part of the natural cycle of life? Speak on it in the comments.


bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 23

  1. nectar_imperial says:

    Had this happen a couple times. Apt description of that very uncomfortable phenomenon.
    I do think its fixable IF the person that turned out the lights (and back on again) at least ADMITS their hand in it and actively seeks a solution.
    If you get that blank stare…its over.

  2. Jinx Moneypenny says:

    This happened to me in my past relationship, and he explained why he acted a way a little while later. As I look back at it now, I should have taken the blatant turnaround behaviour as a clue into knowing we weren’t going to be together much longer after that. It completely changed the dynamic and even though we took a break and got back, I suffered a personal loss (death of a parent) and have been a different person since then.

    I wasn’t the same, and he couldn’t hang. But I wasn’t surprised, and I’m still not. I had to let go.

  3. Danielle says:

    I never just turn the lights out. I’m always dimming them little at time. I think people I’m dimming it on just squint, trying to see better instead of asking what’s wrong with the light? So when it’s off then the bitterness comes with the darkness.

    I’ve had the lights explode like some X-man blew them out with his mind. Glass flew everywhere. I think mercury got in my damn eyeballs lol! And although we spoke like a day after our friendship was never the same and eventually just faded away. I felt like someone close to me died. I’m just about done grieving this friendship. I hope.

  4. LaLaBakir says:

    It’s a bitchass move. I’ve had it happen to me before and it’s like not getting the memo that something changed.

    “Or maybe they realize it but aren’t able to articulate why. And is that such a bad thing?”

    Ummm…it is a bad thing. As an adult, if you can’t articulate your feelings or thoughts about a relationship…you need help. And I’m not trying to be funny. Hell, write a letter…something! It’s not cool to switch sh*t up on people just b/c you’ve drawn the conclusion that this isn’t working, or that you’re not ready for a relationship, or whatever the case maybe.

  5. Maggie says:

    I’ve had it happen and it is a pretty bitchass move. I am currently dealing with this with someone I consider(ed) a friend and a sister. It hurts, but it has happpened once before with this person and I am trying to wrap my head around it now so that when it’s officially “over” I won’t be caught out there like a deer in the headlights again.

  6. GirlSixx is ChloeRayne516 says:

    “Ummm…it is a bad thing. As an adult, if you can’t articulate your feelings or thoughts about a relationship…you need help. And I’m not trying to be funny. Hell, write a letter…something! It’s not cool to switch sh*t up on people just b/c you’ve drawn the conclusion that this isn’t working, or that you’re not ready for a relationship, or whatever the case maybe.”

    I understand what you’re saying Ms. Bakir but often times there are little signs/little scribble scrabble on the wall you just have to be aware of it. Some people don’t have the heart or courage to axe someone especially if that person hasn’t done anything detrimental per se so they pull the disappearing act in hopes of letting that person done easy because let’s face it not everyone handles rejection sanely, so to avoid the risk of some crazy behavior — some people just flip the switch and out the lights.

    I’m not saying it’s right but it does happen.

    1. LaLaBakir says:

      Oh, I definitely understand it happens,lol. I just feel that there’s no excuse. Maybe the person didn’t do anything detrimental…a simple “I don’t think we’re compatible in the grand scheme of things” (or something along those lines) is suffice. Avoiding risk of crazy behavior…just as you said that there a little signs those lights are about to go out…I think there are signs of the level of crazy you’re dealing with,lol.

      But that’s neither here nor there. Lights out is selfish and reeks of cowardice.

      1. GirlSixx is ChloeRayne516 says:

        “I think there are signs of the level of crazy you’re dealing with,lol.”

        True. True. I see your point.

      2. max says:

        I think I’m with my Lala on this. It’s a bitchass move.

        1. LaLaBakir says:

          Yup. I mean, half the time…it’s probably not even that serious. Sure, feelings may be a little hurt…but life goes on. People give themselves way too much credit. For example, after cutting the lights out dude and I had a discussion. Ok, cool. But then he’s says something like “I hope you’re not salty” o_O Say what?!!! It wasn’t that serious. Sure, it sucked that we weren’t on the same page. But salty? People are too quick to flatter themselves.

          Man/woman up and do the dirty work.

          1. max says:

            I think men cannot comprehend the difference between offended and butthurt. For example if you end things with me in a bitchass way I might be offended by your lack of tact and life skills but that doesn’t mean I’m salty about it.

            1. LaLaBakir says:

              EXACTLY! But to even have the audacity to ask about the Lawry’s…I can’t!

          2. Malik says:

            But you told me I was the best you ever had….:(

            *starts crooning some Drake*

  7. Starita34 says:

    This blows when you have no idea what happened. Things were going well and then something just changes. It leaves you feeling insecure. What’d I do? Why’d they leave? Was it me or just someone else took their time? Did what we have mean so much less to them than it did to me?

    If we were close, I deserve a discussion. After that, do your fadeaway…but at least leave me with an idea of why you went ghost.

    1. EclecticSoul85 says:

      @Starita34, this is exactly what I have been dealing with the last couple of months. The abrupt fadeaway with no real explanation, (a cowardly vague text message does not count) has left me completely baffled. Here we are moseying along for almost a year. Then one day you up and leave and then……… NOTHING.

      Turning out the lights on a random joe smoe… ok well I can understand that. No real feelings/time has been invested. But going ghost on someone you claim to care about, smh, no I don’t understand THIS at all.

      My two cents….MAN UP! If you can’t stand the heat get the h*ll out the kitchen. Voice your feelings like and adult and then feel free to move on…..*END RANT* Lol

  8. KAPSpecial says:

    I have to admit that once (and only once) I cut the lights off on a close friend. In 2005 I think I experienced a quarter life crisis. I was in a bad head space, money space, what-the-eff-is-happening-to-my-life space. A quarter life crisis. This friend and I weren’t in the same city, nut she was one of my closest friends and we talked often. However, during this time it seemed like I developed an allergic reaction to her. I HATED her converstaion topics, I HATED every response she made to anything I said, I HATED the way she laughed, I HATED the way she breathed into the phone. I HATED everything about my interactions with her. And after one of those conversations, I just decided I can’t ever talk to this chic again.

    I didn’t have a conversation about it or write a letter, because I didn’t know what to say. It was a first for me. I’m generally reasonable and fair, I’m a champion friend however everything about my feelings toward her suggested that I was unreasonable, mean and a shitty friend. It was just one more thing that wasn’t making any sense to me. Why do I suddenly dislike my really good friend for no damn reason at all? I also knew she wouldn’t go quietly into the night (we had been sister-friends since 1998). I knew there would be no clean break otherwise. And frankly I just didn’t want to deal with directly hurting her. So yes it’s selfish, but sometimes there may not seem to be a better way.

    Years later, I did feel bad about it and I missed her. I called her out of the blue in 2009. I opened up our first conversation in 4 years with: I’m sorry I stopped talking to you. I was in a really bad space and although you didn’t do anything wrong, for some reason I took it out on you. I hope you can forgive me. She said she could. I was prepared to go into more details about my crisis, but she didn’t even require that. She just wanted to catch up. What’s interesting is that I probably wouldn’t have talked to me if I were her.

    After time we started talking reguarly as if nothing happened (right now she is #2 on my frequently called list). However, I’m keenly aware that it did happen, I won’t ever let it happen again (to anyone), I know for a fact that she is a better friend than I am and that I’m lucky to have her in my life.

    1. max says:

      Wait – did you just cut her off and stop speaking to her? Because that (while it is a bitchass move) is not turning off the lights. Turning off the lights is when you stay in her life but just start moving left all the time. Also a bitchass move.

      1. KAPSpecial says:

        Oh sorry. Didn’t know “turning out the lights” had such a narrow meaning. I guess I “shut the door” cause my bitchass move was cutting her out period.

  9. MeteorMan says:

    yeah… I did something similar to that once. it was this lady that I was dating (say about a good 2-3 months). At around month 3 I was have family issues and a slew of personal issues. I chose NOT to confide in that person. And as a result of my issues, I basically got “too busy” and as a result lost interest. After 2-3 weeks of sparse/non-specific conversation I decided to just tell her that I’m no longer interested. Regardless of any explanation I could’ve given, I decided to just make it short and tart: “I’m no longer interested in pursuing anything with you.” I didn’t give any excuses nor did she ask what has changed or why -> Straight, no chaser. There were no long and drawn out conversations. I only waited for few moments and got up and left. I probably was an asshole for that, but I’d rather do that then drag her along and keeping her guessing.

    And you know what… I don’t feel bad about it either…

  10. CF8 says:

    Hmm… someone starts acting different/cold to you after being cool for a long period of time?

    I dunno if i’ve had something exactly like that before. I mean, I’ve had people suddenly act prickish/distant/uninterested… but it was more – how do you say it – obvious or clear.

    Maybe it depends on the circumstances. Perhaps the person has found something about the other person they greatly disliked and then wonders if they ever really knew the other person before. I think people become very hesitant if they think that.

    Maybe a person has something serious elsewhere affecting how they deal with friends/family, but I don’t like that as I never like the idea of someone takin out their problems on friends/family.

    1. CJ says:

      This is what I’m going through right now – a woman friend I’ve known for years has recently done a number of things that makes me wonder if I ever really knew her. But I think that if I sat her down and had a talk about it things would get too weird and we’d never hang again. But by flipping the light switch I’m giving her a chance to show whether I’m wrong or not. I can observe her actions in the next few months knowing she’s doing what she’s doing for her own true unfiltered reasons, and not because she’s “trying to do right by me”. If she keeps acting the same way, then I’m right to fade her. And if she goes back to acting “the right way” then I can fade right back in like nothing happened.

  11. Has this ever happened to you or is it just me? Have you ever abruptly changed the way you interacted with someone you’re close to without knowing or telling them why? Is this a bitchass move or part of the natural cycle of life?

    (smile) I COULD react to this in a VERY inflamatory way, especially after reading the above comments… (shrug) But, in trying to be nice…

    Has this ever happened to you or is it just me?

    Nope, this happened to me, too…

    Have you ever abruptly changed the way you interacted with someone you’re close to without knowing or telling them why?

    Again, nope… Being a symbiont has its advantages… In this case, I just don’t “turn the lights off”… (smile) Unless provoked… Thankfully, THAT hasn’t happened…

    Is this a bitchass move or part of the natural cycle of life? Yeah, it IS a bitchass move…that’s NOT confined to men doing that ish… (smile) Had a few females do some bitchass moves, too… (smile)

  12. r0cktheMike says:

    I’ve “cut the lights off” on someone but it was absolutely necessary. Sometimes you can give a person/situation chance after chance, work on things over and over and it still be bringing you down. I’m the type of person that if I make something up in my head, I stick with it. If I say “I’m going to give this bitch one more shot” and if that bitch fucks it up *flips the light switch*. Think about the woman who “flips the switch” on her abusive husband or the son “who cuts the lights off” on his drug addict, emotionally/financially abusive parent. Sometimes its necessary.

    I’ve had the lights cut off and the shit sucks lol

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