What is “ghosting?” Ghosting is a “now you see me, and now you don’t,” type of tactic that can occur with dating where one person ends a relationship by disappearing. Depending on the intensity of the relationship that has ended, people can feel rejected. When you read about ghosting, people often say it’s a terrible, rude, insensitive practice. The critics say that ghosting doesn’t give the ghosted “closure.” People make it sound like it’s a new phenomenon, but ghosting has been around forever. Technology, internet dating, and living in a social media driven economy just make it easier for someone to “ghost.”
Rejections hurts, and breakups are genuinely miserable experiences. Studies show that social rejection activates the same pain pathways in the brain as physical pain, giving us a biological link between rejection and pain. We are built for connection. Our brains need consistent bonding and nurturing. Studies have shown that babies and children don’t thrive without contact and touch. So, staying connected to other people is a human survival skill. We scan the cues of other people to help us figure out how to respond in any given situation. When you get ghosted, you have no understanding of what happened and that can cause you to question yourself and the choices you made. The last thing you want is to let that undermine your self-esteem.
Sure, having someone tell you it’s over might be better than wondering, but when someone disappears from your life, you know there is a problem. It says more about your ghost and his problems than about you. Maybe knowing why he rejected you can help, but it might not. Of course, it’s better if the person who rejected you is polite and straightforward enough to come up with a reason why they’ve left you, and now you’re hurting. But your ghost might not even know exactly why he wants to end things between you. He just feels uncomfortable at the thought of having a conversation with you about it. In these cases, silence speaks louder than words. Getting over it involves realizing it’s his problem, not yours.
If a guy isn’t contacting you, something is clearly wrong. Men demonstrate their interest in a woman primarily with their time. When they don’t give you their time, they just aren’t interested. It could be that he’s met another woman or he’s got a crisis in his life and doesn’t want to share it with you. Something about your relationship may feel threatening to him. The bottom line is the same in all these cases: the relationship is going nowhere.
Our distant culture makes matters worse. If he thinks he will never see you again, then he may not feel a sense of accountability. He doesn’t have to worry about an awkward conversation at work or with his friends where he must explain his actions.
Nobody complains about ghosting when they aren’t interested in the ghost. When it’s mutual, it’s somehow OK. Let’s face it, men and women have trouble telling others they aren’t interested. They don’t want to cause anyone pain. Maybe they’re afraid the other person will be angry with them or demand an explanation. They may not know how to explain it. After all, it may feel hard to explain your lack of chemistry for someone without sounding critical. “You’re too short,” or “you’re too fat,” is never a helpful thing to say.
People often don’t realize how unnecessary the explanation is. A simple, “You’re an interesting man (or woman), but… I don’t feel a spark.” Or, “I don’t think we’re a match.” Any explanation like that is often enough to give the person the closure they need. There is no need to criticize or get into specifics when you’ve just had a few dates. Dating is hard enough, but saying something critical is not only unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, but it can shatter someone’s confidence.
But what about ghosting in a relationship?
Do you drop off the face of the earth if you’ve met someone else or you didn’t like something they did? When you are ending a relationship with someone you cared for, how should you proceed? ” I just want you to know I met someone else who I like better than you.” Even if you don’t say it that way, you know that’s how they hear it and how they feel about it, because that’s what it is.
So, how helpful is that kind of news? Ideally, you would call and let them know how wonderful they are, and give them the bad news and it would soften the blow, but does it? Some people want that call. Others might feel like it’s rubbing salt in their wound and want to figure it out without your explanation.
Ideally, people would handle life maturely and do what we need them to do, whether it’s to tell us if they are dumping us or to spare us the pain. People aren’t always going to handle painful situations maturely. A person who you dated for a while who ghosts you is giving you information about how they handle problems in a relationship: they disappear.
Avoidance is a coping strategy that many people rely on, but it often doesn’t work well when a couple avoids facing their problems. Communication is part of the glue that keeps couples together. Your ghost may be doing you a big favor to show you his true colors. Chances are, he doesn’t have the communication skills to make your relationship work.
Although it’s perfectly understandable that it hurts to get rejected, try to get over being in love with a ghost. Know that his ghosting says more about him and his maturity level than you and your desirability.
Have you ever been ghosted? Do you prefer to be given an explanation for why someone didn’t want to pursue a relationship with you? Did their explanation take the sting out of their rejection? Let us know in the comments what your experiences have been and which method you like the best.