Many daters have fallen victim to the silent (literally) epidemic that has been sweeping the dating world in recent years. It’s that unfortunate occurrence that made you lose a chunk of your dignity. Yep, we’re talking about ghosting.
Oh, you don’t know what ghosting is? How privileged your love life must be.
Ghosting is the rude-and-completely-unacceptable-yet-often-used method of ending communication with someone you’ve been seeing by completely going MIA. No explanations, no closure, nothing. They just disappear. In fact, it’s so prevalent that Merriam-Webster felt the need to add it to the dictionary.
Those who have been ghosted know the devastating impact it leaves. You’re dating someone and everything seems to be going well, until they stop responding to your text messages out of the blue, and you notice they’re no longer liking your Instagram pics (if they’re extra savage, they don’t even follow you anymore, or worse, they block you!). What was once a blossoming romance comes to a shrieking halt, and all you’re left with is an endless list of questions as life continues to zoom by at a rate of several WTFs per hour.
Still, the act of being ghosted is nothing compared to the curse that haunts you after being ghosted.
Regardless of how much we try to get past the scars failed relationships leave on us, we fall prey to them.
Texts have become the primary channel of communication, which sparks many problems — mainly our need for an immediate response. And if we’re not met with it, we often go for a joyride in our head. It’s one thing to be annoyed with a lazy texter. It’s an entirely different thing to tackle the silence after being ghosted.
I myself was once ghosted by a guy who I thought had serious boyfriend potential (our pre-ghosting date lasted seven hours and he kept talking about our future…yep, it was like that), and I’ll never forget the hollow pit in my stomach when I realized I was never going to see him, or hear from him, again. And while I’d love to sit here and tell you I moved on effortlessly, I’d be lying.
The after effects leaked into any future interactions I had with men. I’d find myself freaking out if I didn’t hear back instantly, because I thought I was being ghosted again. I’d have irrational thoughts like, “Why haven’t they texted back? Am I ever going to speak to them again? Is this their way of ending it? Wow. Guess it’s over.”
Cue your group chat with your girlfriends to relay the news of another suitor biting the dust, only to be met with a text from him five minutes later.
“Never mind, guys. He texted back.”
Of course, that mentality is absurd. It’s insecure, childish, and detrimental to cultivating healthy relationships. But it’s also extremely common.
Relationship Coach Adam Maynard explains, “Ghosting takes an extended emotional toll on those who are left behind because it’s a rejection without the actual rejection. The moment itself never comes, and this lack of closure leads to a prolonged period of pain and uncertainty where the person who’s been abandoned gradually realizes that's what's happened and begins to mourn the loss of the relationship.
“Knowing they weren’t given the courtesy of a proper goodbye can make people who’ve been ghosted feel worthless, like they didn’t deserve this basic kindness. If they feel this way, it means they’ve internalized the other person’s behavior as a statement about who they are. They can then be hooked by nagging doubts about where they went wrong, or what part of them was found lacking, and exhaust themselves overanalyzing questions they might never be able to answer because their partner didn’t give them enough information. If this agonizing undermines their self-esteem, they can carry this insecurity forward into future relationships.”
He adds, “Having someone completely disappear on you can resurface past emotional trauma, especially experiences involving abandonment and broken trust. Being ghosted can also be a traumatic experience all its own, especially if a strong emotional or physical connection had already been established.”
Unfortunately, here’s the skinny: People will continue ghosting people, because many don’t care to have the uncomfortable conversation. As horrible as that may be, it’s up to you to not give them any more power by letting their cowardly behavior affect the next relationship that enters in your life. The only person who has the power to place a curse like that over your love life is you. And you know damn well you deserve a text back.
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