by Jennifer Zmurchyk – Prairie Sky Wellness
Call me old school, but I come from a generation before there was such a thing as ‘ghosting’. A time when people had respect for each other in the dating world, and if things fell apart or if someone wanted to leave a relationship there was a proper ending, and closure given. Yes, there was such a thing known as the ‘disappearing act’ in the past however it was not a common thing. It wasn’t an acceptable behavior and only reserved for dishonest scumbags with no morals or social etiquette.
What is Ghosting?
According to the Urban Dictionary, ghosting is:
“The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.”
Many of us have been subject to ghosting and the truth is it hurts. The emotional impact of being ghosted is devastating; it’s painfully confusing and leaves us full of questions, self doubt, and difficulty moving on from the relationship. One day there is a belief that someone cares about us, then the next day they disappear without a text, an email, or a phone call. Nothing. Our text messages to them, emails to them, phone calls to them go unanswered with nothing but dead silence on the other end. Why is this ok? How can a person internally justify the act of emotionally shattering someone who cares about them by leaving with no explanation or closure?
Why do People Ghost?
The act of ghosting is an indication of a person who lacks emotional maturity or proper communication skills. Rather than face the discomfort or fear of hurting another person, someone who ‘ghosts’ takes the shamefully easy way out to avoid having an open and honest discussion. It shows a lack of personal integrity, honesty, and a complete disregard for the emotions and well being of other people.
It’s also a form of the ‘silent treatment’ and is an indication of highly narcissistic behavior. Ignoring someone is cruel and causes the victim to believe that they are insignificant and don’t matter. According to research, the silent treatment is considered emotionally abusive behavior and causes serious psychological damage that can lead to depression in the person subject to this abuse.
How to Deal With Ghosting
In the modern world of dating, it’s unavoidable that many of us will experience ghosting at some point. When dealing with a person who is fine with hurting someone in this way, we need to remember that their negligent behavior is not a reflection of us, or an indicator of our worth. Rather, it shows the type of person person they are – someone who lacks integrity, maturity, and has difficulty being honest with themselves or other people. Some effective ways to deal with a ghoster are:
Be thankful that the ghosting happened – Why be thankful? Be thankful because this person has shown us their true colors. Rather than wasting our valuable time with someone who is emotionally immature, them exiting our life gives us the space to open up to someone who is truly interested in a relationship and possesses integrity.
Understand that we did nothing to deserve being ghosted – When someone ghosts us, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we did something wrong or somehow deserved it. These thoughts can lead to self doubt and the belief that we are unworthy. Understand that ghosting behavior is a reflection of the other person’s lack of morals and courage and is no indication of our value as a person.
Allow some time to heal – Experiencing a broken heart is very painful. In fact, according the Mayo Clinic ‘broken heart syndrome’ actually causes physical damage to the heart and in some cases death. It’s important to take the necessary time to heal and make self care and self love a priority before stepping out into the dating world again. We need to allow ourselves to properly release the situation and move on with our life while coming to terms with the fact that we will likely never get closure from the other person and accept that we got ‘played’ so we can leave it in the past.
Adopt the attitude of ‘next please’ – After the time has been taken for healing, and we are ready to get back into dating it’s best to understand that not all people are ghosters and there is a high chance we will meet our ideal partner once we are ready and open to love again. However it’s a good idea not to ever waste time again on someone who takes us for granted. At the first sign of a ‘red flag’ or if our intuition is telling us that something isn’t right about a person, we need to listen to that and immediately move on and look forward to meeting the next person who may be the one who is right for us.
Go No Contact – This is especially true with the kind of person who is the ‘player’ type because it’s likely they will try to worm their way back into our lives in the future. Though it is possible to emotionally mature and change, people who have a high disregard for the feelings of others and exhibit the narcissistic behavior indicated by ghosting and giving the silent treatment rarely change their stripes. It’s best to go completely no contact with them rather than risk getting stuck in the same situation where we’re being mistreated. At the very least, if there is a feeling that this person deserves a second chance, then we need to set firm and healthy boundaries as to how we will and will not be treated. At the first sign our boundaries are being violated, they need to go permanently from our lives. The time we have here on earth is precious and short so why waste it on someone who is toxic?
Why does ghosting seem to be socially acceptable behavior? It is a good indicator of declining societal values in general. There is also the possibility that people accept it because it happens a lot due to the invention of online dating and the fact that most of our communication is now done electronically. Communicating online and through texting makes ghosting very easy for someone to do. Regardless, if any of us is the victim of a ghoster, it is important to understand that it’s an indication of their lack of worth as a person and is not a reflection of our own value.
This is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much: Psychology Today Canada https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ghosting
The Silent Treatment: Emotional Abuse in Disguise: Exploring Your Mind
Broken Heart Syndrome Symptoms And Causes: Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-heart-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354617