Ghosting – the fade out, the blow off, the disappearing acts! For the person being ghosted it becomes an excruciating radio silence. You know what I’m talking about. It’s not gender specific. Although apparently guys do it more often, according to relationship experts. It’s when you’re dating someone (and not just one date, but three or more, you’re on a roll, or even already in an exclusive relationship), and things are going great, or so you thought… Until they just stop calling, texting, pursuing. WITHOUT. A. WORD.
This type of behavior has probably been around since the beginning of time. But back in the day, it wasn’t so commonplace. It was truly behavior reserved for numb-nuts. But these days? Well, ghosting has become a go-to tactic for breaking it off with someone, so much so that the New York Times devoted an entire article to it. According to the Times:
“In October 2014, a YouGov/Huffington Post poll of 1,000 adults showed that 11 percent of Americans had “ghosted” someone. A more informal survey from Elle magazine that polled 185 people found that about 16.7 percent of men and 24.2 percent of women had been ghosts at some point in their lives.”
New York Times
Commonplace or not, ghosting is an unacceptable way to end it with someone. Am I biased? Yes. Perhaps this is because I was recently ghosted. And not by someone I met on Tinder, or any other dating site — not that it makes it any more acceptable — but by a man I’d known for three years, a man with whom I have tons of mutual friends, a man who I will eventually have to see again.
So ghosting isn’t just a matter of modern technology and online dating apps making it easier to disappear, as some experts theorize. No. Ghosting is the result of a society that has crumbled so far away from integrity that leaving someone confused, and heartbroken, and confused… and more confused (because, really it’s the confusion that makes ghosting so unbearable)… is the new normal.
Why Ghosting Sucks So Bad
Before we go into why people ghost, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the legitimacy of our hurt feelings. Whether you’ve been dating someone for six months or one month, when they just up and disappear like Casper – the “not-so-friendly” ghost – it’s truly a shocking event, regardless of the depths of your feelings for that person.
First, you don’t realize what’s happening. It’s not like they’ve sat you down and said, “I’m no longer interested in pursuing things with you,” which, while hard to hear, lets you know where things stand so you can start moving forward with the healing process. When you’re ghosted, it might take a few weeks to really get the fact that your ghost isn’t going to reach out again. Like ever. And that can take some time to really accept.
Once you get that they aren’t ever coming around, then, you have to deal with the jolt of it, and the maddening desire for answers you’re never going to get… from them at least. And so then you do the crazy in your head. What did I do? What did I say? How did this happen? Did they meet someone else they like more? Was I bad kisser? WHAT HAPPENED??
And finally, mixed in with all that hurt and confusion is anger. Because (wow!) this person with whom you’ve developed a rapport and connection, spent some serious time, started to cultivate a friendship, didn’t just decide they weren’t interested in you romantically. By ghosting you, they totally disrespected you!
Here’s what Psychology Today has to say about what it feels like to be on the receiving end of ghosting:
“For many people ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable. If you have known the person beyond more than a few dates then it can be even more traumatic. When someone we love and trust disengages from us it feels like a very deep betrayal.”
And I for one can relate.
Why People Ghost
There are so many reasons people ghost, but let me assure you that none of the reasons have anything to do with you. You did nothing wrong.
Let’s pretend your ghoster actually had integrity, and let you know that they weren’t feeling it for you anymore – that they enjoyed the time you spent together, but you just weren’t a fit.
Sure, rejection sucks, but that’s a perfectly acceptable reason to break things off. It’s a part of dating. You’re exploring each other to see if you’re compatible, and when one person feels you’re not, then you say thanks very much, and off you go to try on another person.
The difficult thing about ghosting isn’t so much that you didn’t get a reason — because ultimately the reason is that they aren’t interested in you anymore (for whatever reason). The difficult thing is that they deprived you of closure. And then, it’s easy to spin out. So, the trick here is to give yourself your own closure.
Why did they ghost you? Pick any of the following reasons to help you shut that door and move on:
- They met someone else they liked more.
- They just weren’t that into you.
- They are emotionally unavailable and afraid of commitment.
- Their real feelings for you scared them and so they ran.
- They just found out they have an incurable STD and didn’t know how to tell you…
It doesn’t matter. Just make something up so you can start moving on.
The Psychology of Someone who Ghosts
According to Psychology Today:
“The important thing to remember is that when someone ghosts you, it says nothing about you or your worthiness for love and everything about the person doing the ghosting. It shows he/she doesn’t have the courage to deal with the discomfort of their emotions or yours, and they either don’t understand the impact of their behavior, or worse don’t care.”
Can you say narcissist? You are absolutely loveable. The person who ghosted you is, at least in my opinion…
- Emotionally immature
- Emotionally stunted
- Incapable of dealing with confrontation
- Incapable of a healthy relationship
- Seriously lacking in communication skills
- I can’t even…
Please, add to the list above in the comments below.
And chances are, you aren’t the first person they’ve done this to. And you won’t be the last. This is just how they walk through the world, and it’s not a reflection on you, it’s just a reflection on who they are, and where they are in life.
How to Keep a Ghost from Haunting You
Let yourself feel the emotions – the hurt, the confusion, the pain, and the anger. Allow yourself that moment, and let yourself process it. Don’t judge how long it takes. Just give yourself that healing.
A really helpful exercise is to write that person a letter. DO NOT SEND THE LETTER. Really let them have it in this letter. Why you’re pissed. How dare they? Be nasty if you want.
Once that letter is written, write a letter from them to you. Yes, from their perspective. You might find some answers you seek. You might find that they thought fading out was actually the kindest way to handle the situation. You might find that they have no idea that what they did was disrespectful. You might be able to see firsthand their limitations, and accept that they were doing the best they could at the time. Hopefully, you’ll understand their behavior has nothing to do with you. Read these letters whenever you need, until time takes away the hurt and that person no longer takes up space in your thoughts.
Finally, stand in the truth that this person did you a favor. A ghoster isn’t someone you want to have a relationship with. So be grateful that your path is open and clear to a kind, decent, loving soul who will see your radiance, be able to accept your love, and walk by your side through this crazy life, with integrity.