Ghosting and the art of disappearing
The term “ghosting” is a relatively new expression, even though I’d imagine that people have “ghosted” one another for centuries.
Have you ever pulled the plug on a relationship without warning or explanation? Ghosting, the act of ending a relationship by disappearing, has been a popular topic of conversation in dating circles, but it’s happening in friendships and in the workplace, too.
Ghosting is when you’re being led on by someone, maybe going on a few dates, maybe even dating, and then boom, they disappear. They don’t text you or respond. And perhaps the worst part, is they don’t give you an explanation.
It’s extremely common, and I’m sure we’ve all partaken in either side or at the very least know someone who has. People ghost for million of reasons, but for the most part they do so in order to avoid their own emotional discomfort and they don’t have another person’s feelings in mind.
Most of us don’t enjoy hurting other people’s feelings, and telling someone you don’t want to spend time with them isn’t an easy task. Many ghosters report feeling embarrassed about letting the other person down, and they simply don’t want to have to face them.
To others, ghosting is an act of self-care. It’s an effortless way to set boundaries.
While establishing healthy boundaries is an essential component of self-care, it does require communication. Boundaries must be communicated; otherwise, how can we expect people not to violate them?
Some ghosters have admitted they don’t want to close the door completely on a relationship, and having a “goodbye” conversation would make closure official. By disappearing quietly, they believe it might still be possible to return to the relationship at some point in the future.
We often forget that sometimes people disconnect because they’re struggling with something in their personal life. There are often mental or emotional reasons that people disconnect, and it could even be a cry for help.
Because ghosting is still so ill-defined, and because it’s often confused with healthy boundary-setting, it’s easy to see how some people may not even realize they are ghosting.
Above all, it makes you feel disposable. Essentially, ghosting is cutting off communication without an explanation. It makes you feel used and disrespected. If it’s only been a few dates, it can be frustrating but pretty easy to get over. But if you’ve been ghosted by someone you’ve been romantically involved with for a period of time, it can be downright traumatic. When someone we care about disappears without an explanation it can feel like we are being betrayed, abandoned or played.
Ghosting is the ultimate rejection, and social rejection activates the same pathways in our brains as physical pain. So no, you’re not being dramatic when it hurts because sometimes it really does and it’s out of our control. The worst part, is that you don’t have an explanation. Self-questioning is the result of our basic human desire for understanding our social standing. As humans we have self-esteem and when these events occur they have the ability to lower our feelings of self-worth, thinking we aren’t good enough for someone else. And therefore we aren’t good enough at all. It’s important to remember we are all different. And people vary in their self-esteem levels already, so while ghosting might not affect a friend of yours, it might affect you much more.
Ghosting is giving someone the silent treatment. It’s a passive aggressive and it’s pretty unhealthy. It leaves zero opportunity to ask questions or gain information that might help process a situation. It suppresses your emotions. When we are ghosted, we don’t know how to act, largely because we don’t know what happened.
All in all, it’s their problem not yours. When someone ghosts you, it has nothing to do with you or your worthiness but instead says everything about the other person. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is next time you get ghosted, try to think about it with the perspective that everything happens for a reason. People who ghost either don’t understand the impact that it has on others or worse than that, they don’t really care. Always try to look at the bigger picture. Don’t get petty. Remain dignified and calm and collected. You are absolutely allowed to be upset, but I would just try to swallow your pride and move on.
At the end, if you have been ghosted, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Do you really even want someone like that in your life? Experiences like these offer us opportunities to re-examine our own boundaries — what we’re willing and unwilling to accept.