Ghosting stings. It can make you feel rejected and abandoned at the same time, and it offers you no closure or feedback whatsoever. It’s an incredibly frustrating experience, and if it’s happened to you, I feel for you, I really do.
In fact, research shows that social rejection and physical pain activate the same regions of the brain. So the emotional pain you feel in response to ghosting is very much real.
I’ve dated and been ghosted plenty, and while I brushed off most of them, a few really stung, and one in particular tore me apart.
I was ghosted before the term even existed by my first (long distance) love.
I was also ghosted by someone I had been dating exclusively who I was still in love with after he told me he wanted to get back together.
I was more recently ghosted by a guy I had been on a few dates with and quite liked. Things were humming along nicely, and starting to really heat up, and then poof! He was gone, and I was left asking, “wtf?” Luckily, I was a seasoned ghostee by this point, and had developed a ghosting protocol.
Don’t Do This
In the past, I texted my ghosts, demanding answers. Maybe he is hurt. Maybe his phone is broken and he doesn’t know my number by heart. Maybe he tried texting me but I never received it and he thinks I’m ignoring him. Maybe I should send him an email telling him this, but also let him know that if he DID ghost me, he’s an asshole.
A couple of my past ghosts did eventually come back, and I offered up second and third chances only to put up with more disappearances and blow offs. This is what the kids call a zombie, when a ghost reappears. Proceed with caution when dealing with any and all characters in your love life that get nicknames from horror films.
My heart was shattered, my ability to trust was wobbly, and unfortunately back then I looked in the mirror and thought, “what’s wrong with me?” I do not believe my ghosts ever intended to hurt me, but they most certainly did. In retrospect it allowed me to really get to know myself, my triggers, and forced me to grow.
So now, as a single woman, when I inevitably get ghosted, I know better, and I’m better prepared. I’m grateful for those first initial, heartbreaking ghosts, and my desperate, pleading reactions to them. It made me stronger, and taught me what I needed to know, namely, if they want to, they will.
I know it can really suck to get ghosted, especially if you liked the person, which I imagine is why you’re reading this. So here’s what I’ve come up with in my ghosting experiences, of which there have been many.
Crucial Steps to Take When You Get Ghosted
Feel it all
Be sad, angry, confused, annoyed, and question humanity for a few hours or even days if you have to. Let yourself mourn the person, the potential, and get into your feelings.
We often discount the value of feeling negative emotions and are quick to pretend we don’t care, and that it doesn’t affect us. You may be able to convince outsiders you are strong, but the truth is there is more strength in vulnerability than avoidance. When you stuff down your emotions, they’ll keep showing up years later. If you deal with them, you can move on.
Convincing yourself it’s no big deal can lead to you pushing down your feelings, numbing out with booze or your vice of choice, and then becoming resentful later on, or closing your heart off to love. Resentment is not good for your love life or your well being.
Feel your feelings, even if they’re uncomfortable. Life is not supposed to be fun and comfortable all the time. You can do hard things. Sit with your discomfort. Ask it what it wants, what it’s trying to teach you. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling and stop judging it or discrediting it. Just feel it, give your emotions the time and space they need, and then move on.
Get Out Your Clipboard
Try to think objectively and clinically about what would cause someone to ghost. Typically, avoidance and denial are at play, which would be an indication that the ghost in question is not ready to communicate openly, or engage in mature relationships.
Perhaps, some mental health issues are surfacing for your ghost. Or maybe we have a whole generation lacking the ability to have difficult, adult conversations. It does take some guts to say to someone, “hey, I’m not feeling a connection, I think it’s best we part ways.”
Your ghost could be convinced this is easier for the both of you, because they don’t have to have a difficult conversation, and you don’t have to deal with being rejected. Unfortunately, ghosting is still rejection, it’s just a silent and icy version.
Maybe your ghost grew up in a household where issues were swept under the rug, and they haven’t evolved past the coping mechanisms they learned in childhood.
Just take a minute to think about why someone would ghost, and think clinically, not personally.
Wear clothes that make you feel fabulous. Get your hair done, do your nails, take care of your skin, exercise, get outside, rest, treat yourself to nutritious and delicious food, and continue to live your best life. Your life does not stop because someone walks out of it. If someone wants to walk out of your life, let them. Keep on LIVING.
Nurture your hobbies, read books, work out, eat well, take care of yourself. Get good sleep. See your friends. Open your heart to all the other cuties out there, and remember your life is fabulous regardless.
Life goes on. Continue to do all the things you love to do, and treat yourself like the precious gem you are. Chase your dreams, your health, and your well being, not your ghosts.
Don’t Make it About You
When you get ghosted, it’s really hard not to feel rejected, but it’s important to remember it’s not about you. Just because you’re not for someone, for whatever reason, doesn’t mean you aren’t amazing, worthy of love, and a total catch. Just because you experienced one mismatch doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens more waiting to connect with and love you.
When you get ghosted, it says more about the ghost than it does about you. Often, the person is conflict avoidant, or has some other internal struggles at play. Well adjusted adults don’t ghost. They just don’t. Have empathy for your spooky friend, and wish them some communication magic for their future, because they’re going to need it.
NOTHING AT ALL.
Do not attempt to resurrect a ghost. Let the dead rest in peace, and stay in the land of the living. I don’t care if it’s almost Halloween. Your dating life should not be spooky or haunted. It might be messy, it might be challenging, it might even be bloody if you’re pro- period sex or use really fancy cooking knives, but your dating life should not be spooky.
If someone wants to walk out of your life… let them.
Obviously, if you’ve made a big mistake or there’s been a disagreement of some sort, you can talk this out, but if someone ghosts out of the blue, or when things get tricky, or because something (or someone) came up and they don’t feel the need to communicate? Let them walk.
Don’t bombard someone with texts and try to reach them on every channel. They got your text, your email, your DM, saw your missed call, and listened to your voicemail. Their phone did not break.
Think about it- do you really want to be with a shitty communicator?
If you absolutely must confront your ghost, you can send them a text, “hey, haven’t heard from you in a while. Is everything ok?” or something to this effect, but don’t expect a lot of clarity or closure, and understand you may end up feeling worse if you take this route.
Remember You’re Better Off Without Them
When people ghost, it shows a lack of maturity in handling adult conversations, whether that’s to express disinterest, bad timing, or personal struggles etc. and they are also demonstrating a lack of respect to you. So before you go pining for you ghost, remember that ghosting itself is a major red flag.
You’ve already lost time by dating this person. Spend your energy on adults who can communicate and treat you with courtesy and kindness.
Even if you really liked the person, (and I totally get it, I’ve been there) you deserve better. You deserve someone who can communicate, even when it’s hard. You deserve someone who keeps you in the loop. You deserve basic respect.