What is ghosting? You may not even know it but have been a victim of ghosting in your lifetime.
You’re talking to a new romantic partner, you two have been on a few dates, spent quality time together, then suddenly, it’s like they disappear. There are no more calls, no more texts, no more social media responses or likes.
Or, worse, you didn’t even get to this stage before they disappeared.
You two were just getting to know each other when they decided to stop responding, leaving you wondering if you’d managed to say something wrong during your last conversation.
Unfortunately, our first instinct is usually to make excuses for this person. You might say they are busy, that maybe they just need some time but the truth is, you’ve been ghosted.
What is ghosting?
Ghosting occurs when a person ends all communication and contact with another person without any justification or warning. It also includes ignoring them when the person tries to reach out.
When someone decides to cut off all communication, it can be a serious knock to our self-esteem. We may start to search inward, although it’s usually not our fault the relationship went south.
So then we are left wondering, why do people ghost others?
Reasons why people ghost
Ghosting is an unfortunate event that happens increasingly with the uptick in dating apps such as Grindr, Bumble, and Tinder.
Without the face-to-face initiatives usually involved when getting to know a person, there is more opportunity for that person to act differently than maybe they normally would, given different circumstances.
Additionally, ghosting does not just have to happen in romantic relationships. It’s possible to be ghosted by a friend or family member, as well.
Regardless, the feelings that ghosting leaves behind are the same. Here are a few reasons why people may ghost:
For instance, when matching with someone on Tinder, although a person may be from their area, it doesn’t mean that they know them, anyone related to them, or anyone in their social circles.
This gives them a certain aura of distance or anonymity that can affect behavior regarding dating.
When a person has this level of disconnection, it’s easier to reject others. With a simple swipe, they are on to the next opportunity without a thought of how it will affect the person’s life on the receiving side of the rejection.
The same thing can happen with ghosting.
In today’s era of online dating, we are often behind a screen or on our cell phone doing much of our matching, talking, and connecting. It’s easy to decide that we are done and stop responding rather than simply explaining our reasoning.
Avoidance is a negative coping mechanism that many use when dealing with unpleasantries in life.
When a person concludes that a relationship is not for them, it’s an awkward conversation to have with the person they were previously getting to know. To tell someone that they don’t want to maintain contact is an emotional experience for both parties.
Additionally, it can be overwhelming at times for those who are not highly in tune with their emotions and/or expressing them.
Often, they don’t initially want to hurt the other person’s feelings despite the absence of their own, and so the easier option is just to skip the conversation altogether. Hence, cutting off contact and taking themselves out of someone’s life, essentially ghosting that person.
Fear of commitment
The person who is doing the ghosting could also have a fear of commitment.
Maybe they had trouble with the ex and are still healing from them. Previous relationships often set us up for our next one. Whether it’s positive or negative, it all depends on feelings leftover from that person and how the relationship ended.
It’s also possible that their mental health is in the way of them committing to you if they are battling with anxiety or depression. These conditions can affect a person’s self-worth, mood, and their ability to accomplish day-to-day activities.
Often, we put ourselves “out there” again before we are fully ready, and it takes attempting to get into a relationship with another person before we realize that we still need personal time to heal.
Although this makes it hard for the one who is getting ghosted to understand, it’s an important perspective to consider. Not everyone who ghosts is intentionally trying to hurt someone else. They may just not know how to express their feelings accurately, so they take to other options (that ultimately may be more hurtful but effective.)
What are the signs of ghosting?
If you think you may be getting ghosted by a friend, partner, or family member, you can look for these signs:
Assess the way they are with you lately. Has anything changed in your relationship that may be a warning that they will ghost you in the near future?
It’s okay for people to change over time. Everyone does, but it may be a sign if you’re dating someone and their behavior changes erratically.
Distance often leads to ghosting in the end.
It’s important to consider if the person is going through a major life change, such as losing a job or a loved one, which can be valid reasons for a bit of distance.
However, if there is a long break in between seeing each other and you haven’t heard reasoning from them otherwise, it’s possible you’re being ghosted.
Lessened communication or no communication
Additionally, one of the easiest signs of ghosting is when communication halts.
Dating can be hard, but one thing that helps it is communication. When that stops from one side, it can be incredibly difficult to work things out or to continue to see the person and be there for them.
The digital age has made communication easier and harder at the same time. If you feel as though your partner has stopped communicating with you, you can try reaching out to them and form some kind of agreement as you two continue your relationship.
However, with ghosting, lessened communication usually means the person is gone for good.
How do you respond to ghosting?
It may seem like this person has a valid excuse for their absence, and some do, but most have decided to stop communicating with you without any explanation.
Even if you send messages to the person after you realize you’ve been ghosted, you will most likely never get closure on the reasons why they decided to stop responding.
Ghosting can take a serious toll on your mental health, no matter how short the relationship or interaction is.
Those who have been ghosted can feel as though they are unworthy of being treated nicely or are not good enough for the other person, especially if their feelings were developing with the relationship.
Accept that you have been ghosted
It’s hard, but coming to terms with being ghosted is the first step. Once you realize that the person you were interested in has intentionally left you with no closure to your relationship, it’s easier to move on from there.
Don’t continue to reach out
Although you may want to send one more message because maybe they didn’t see your last one but chances are, they did. And they won’t respond to this one either.
The terrible part about ghosting is that it leaves us without a sense of closure. Therefore we may continue to reach out to that person in order to get it.
However, it will only make the pain from being ghosted linger the more our attempts go unanswered, so it’s best not to reach out once we realize we’ve been ghosted.
Likely, if it was a developed relationship, you will have this person on your social media. It can be worse to see them living their life after ghosting you, so it’s best to either avoid social media or delete them from your apps.
Rather than dwelling on what they are doing, you can clear your head of them and focus on yourself and healing for your next relationship.
Remember your worth
Ghosting can hit our self-esteem and make us question our worth.
When we are unwanted by another person, we can turn inward and start to pick apart our flaws–we weren’t funny enough, smart enough, didn’t smile enough, etc., and that’s why this person has chosen to stop responding.
The truth is that the ghosting is all on the person who does it. It often has nothing to do with anything we’ve done to them, just that they have decided to avoid telling us their true feelings.
A professional can give you advice, diagnosis, or treatment for any anxiety or depression you may feel from getting ghosted.
Ghosting can be incredibly difficult to understand when we are on the receiving end. It can hurt our self-esteem and make us wonder why our relationships seem to end with no reason or cause, just silence from the other person.
However, ghosting has become a term that many are familiar with in this age because sadly it happens so often.
While making connections through social media and dating apps is more prevalent than ever, it has also led to an influx in stunted relationships that fizzle out when one person decides to stop responding without an explanation.
Ghosting can be hard to understand and deal with.
Therefore, make a point to reach out to your friends and family and free yourself of any guilt or negative feelings about rejection. It’s not your fault that this happened, and this doesn’t make any of your other connections in the future less valid.
Remember that a person who ghosts often does it because they are unsure how to access their own feelings and talk about them, and not because you’ve done anything wrong.
If needed, you can discuss some of your emotions with a professional who can help you get ready for your other relationships that will be stronger and healthier than your previous ones.