When dating and socializing, you could say you come across all types of people. Some people, seem to really get inspired by the Halloween season and model some of their own traits after the spooky creatures we all know. There are the vampires, sucking your energy with poor communication and toxic behavior, the zombies - where’s the energy? the enthusiasm?-, and the most popular ones: the ghosts, turning invisible and disappearing from your life without warning.
What’s up with that? Read along to understand the ghosting phenomenon a bit better, as well as get some tips on how to handle it, if it ever happens to you.
What is ghosting, exactly?
The simple explanation for ghosting is: abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so.
While ghosting is mostly associated with dating, it can happen in many different forms. That person you've been DM'ing for a while stops answering, the company that was meant to email you after the last interview never actually gets in contact, the real estate agent that was meant to update you on the house you had your eye on just never does.
Even when you try reaching out, this person does not reply in any form - no calls, no texts, no social media, and no explanation.However it happens, and whoever it happens with, being ghosted is, unfortunately, a universal experience that has become more and more normalized.
But why do people ghost?
The motivations can be many and varied, but people ghost others, mostly, because it's easy. Walking away without explanations is a quick and easy way out. Ghosters leave no space for questions, friction, justifications, or "drama". They simply close the door to any further contact, successfully closing the door to any interaction that could be negative or uncomfortable for them.
On dating and social apps and social media, ghosting is often related to a shallow, brief, connection and an overwhelming amount of choice. When you're talking to someone online for just a little while and never actually met them in person, it can feel like you don't know each other at all and there are no real consequences in simply not talking anymore.
It doesn't feel like a big deal because people seem like just profile photos on your phone, instead of actual people with real feelings. This is only heightened by the fact that there are so many people available for you to talk to. Most often than not, people will "bite off more than they can chew" online and end up talking to more people than they can actually keep a conversation with, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and tired and making stopping all conversations feel like the solution.
For deeper connections, ghosting is mostly about a lack of communication skills, avoidance, and self-preservation. Some people are not equipped with the right tools to handle hard conversations. They can't handle the potential awkwardness or friction that might come from rejecting someone, they don't know what to say or how to say it and so... they say nothing. Sometimes, ghosters might even be worried about the pain they might cause the person they're rejecting. Because they fear that their rejection will cause disappointment or sadness, they choose to not communicate at all, so they are not confronted with the other person's feelings and, consequently, don't have to feel guilty about hurting them.
So what can you do if you get ghosted?
First off, it’s important to be sure you actually got ghosted. In today’s fast-paced world, we can be quick to judge someone for not calling or texting for a while, or for leaving us on “read”. Truth is: sometimes people are just busy. Sometimes they read the message when they can’t answer and it slips their mind. Sometimes they’re tired and need a little break from social interaction. Give it a little while and reach out again, ask them if everything is okay, mention you haven’t heard from them in a while, and, if that’s the case, ask if they’re still up to getting to know each other or hanging out.
If they were not meaning to ghost you and it was just a matter of “life happening to them”, they might give you an explanation, maybe even apologize, and restart the conversation. If they really don’t want to talk to you anymore, this is their chance of letting you know. If they truly meant to ghost you and don’t respond, messaging them before taking any final conclusions will help you get some closure, too.
Closure is actually one of the hardest things about ghosting: when you have no explanations and no clue about the motivations of someone leaving, you’re left feeling frustrated, confused, and even ashamed or abandoned. While this is normal, it’s important to remember that ghosting is most often about the person who ghosts than the person being ghosted. From your perspective, the person leaving your life is someone who doesn’t know how to communicate and can’t handle their own feelings or care for other people’s feelings.
Try not to ruminate on the subject or get sucked up trying to figure out the reason why, it’s likely you won’t find it and will only waste precious time and energy on someone who doesn’t deserve it.
If you have texts, photos, or other reminders from that person, like connections on social media, try to clean them out of your life.Focus on yourself and dedicate yourself to your own projects and interests - finding something to occupy your mind and make you feel productive and energized can bring about a much-needed positive boost.Remember there are other people in your life, valuable people who love and care for you. Spend time with family and friends, confide in them, if you need it, and look for their support.
Social media and the online world have made it extraordinarily easy to meet new people and make new connections. And, in consequence, almost just as easy to break those connections. If you’re the one getting ghosted, remember not to blame yourself for it or get sucked up trying to find a reason. You should also not feel ashamed if you need to message them one last time in order to give yourself some closure and regain your confidence - you might even find it wasn’t a ghosting situation, after all.
If you’re the one doing the ghosting, consider how the other person’s feelings might be affected and know there are way better ways to end a relationship. Open and honest communication is the best way to go when you feel it doesn’t make sense to prolong a connection anymore - it’s kinder to everyone involved.