The term ghosting in regards to relationships is when a partner decides to cease all communication and cuts off all possible contact with the other person. They do everything in their power to avoid and ignore the person, such as blocking phone numbers or social media accounts.
They also refuse to respond to any attempts by the other person to reach out to them. It can happen whilst dating, early in a relationship, or even when two people are married or in a serious committed relationship.
For the person wanting to breakup with their girlfriend or boyfriend, it can seem like the perfect option. They can avoid the awkwardness and hurt feelings that happen during a break up. They don’t need to deal with the breakup talk, the crying, the fighting.
But it is considered the lowest form of breakup etiquette – on the breakup acceptability scale, which starts with in-person, then down to phone call and texting, with ghosting being right on the bottom. It’s considered a big no-no, though many people are engaging in this type of behavior as we connect more and more with others online and on social media.
“..The breakup acceptability scale, which starts with in-person, then down to phone call and texting, with ghosting being right on the bottom. It’s considered a big no-no.”
It might seem to the person who is doing the ghosting that it’s clear that the relationship is over, but the other person involved generally has no idea. They’ve been left them hanging, uncertain on what exactly is going on. They might be thinking the other person just needs space, are really busy with work, or that there something big going on in their life that they are trying to deal with.
Often people might create some distance in certain circumstances as they process problems. If the person cares, they are going to initially give their partner the benefit of the doubt until they eventually come to realize that it is actually over. And depending on the other person, it may take much longer then expected as, until they know for certain the relationship is over, they cannot deal with it and move on.
What to do if you are being ghosted?
If you are on the receiving end of ghosting, you are probably wondering what is the best way to react and handle the situation. First of all, acknowledge that their bad behavior is definitely not your fault! What they are doing is immature, mean and can even be considered cruel. Some mental health professionals even consider it a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse.
Having difficult conversations is part of learning to be an adult. Remind yourself that their actions are not personal; although it will feel like that when it’s happening. Their actions reflect on them, not you.
You are deserving of someone who is able to communicate with you. What they are doing should also make it clear that you were definitely not a good match and that you are much better off without them if this is how they handle difficult situations.
Another way to help you deal with someone ghosting you is to figure out why it is bothering you so much. Obviously it is just cowardly and rude, but what are your underlying feelings? This will be very different depending on how serious the relationship was to start with.
If you had just started dating, are you frustrated, or even wanting to win – not liking that someone dumped you before you dumped them? Or if it was much more serious, are you looking for closure, or just simply heartbroken.
Naming the feeling gives it less power over you, and can help you catch yourself when starting to talk negatively to yourself about what you may have done wrong, you can monitor your reactions when those feelings start to become overwhelming.
Getting closure after being ghosted.
Wanting closure is quite common for those who are on the receiving end of a breakup, whether it was done via ghosting or other means. However, if you decide to ask the other person to provide reasons for ending it, make sure you are prepared to actually hear it.
If you choose to contact the other person to seek closure, make sure to ask once in a polite manner, and you may choose to let them know how their behavior made you feel. If they do give you an answer, respect their response even if you don’t like it and it hurts. Don’t continue to ask more questions or try to change their mind – they have provided what you asked and you also need to respect that.
If you hear nothing, then leave it at that. If they don’t give you an answer the first time, they are unlikely to ever respond.
Remember, you are in control of how you react to situations, and this is one that will test you! Take a moment to think twice before sending another message or making another call. If they haven’t gotten back to you already, continuing to chase them and demand they respond is even less likely to work.
It also means later on when the emotions have subsided and you can see things with a clear head, you will feel much prouder of how you handled the situation and maintained your self-respect! A quote by Maya Angelou that captures this is “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Learn from your ghosting experience.
Lastly, even though it feels horrible, it is a learning experience. You may not be able to change what happened, but you can learn from it for future relationships. It will help you learn about who you are, and how you are able to deal with difficult situations. You may look back and realize that certain actions may not have been helpful and made things worse, and you can then choose not to repeat those mistakes.
It will also help you learn about what type of partner you are looking for and how they should behave and communicate with you. It’s also worth taking time to reflect on whether there were any red flags you might have missed. Did you choose to ignore some red flags because you really liked this person or really wanted to make it work? You can now be on the look out for similar behavior in future relationships and be better prepared to deal with it if you spot the signs.
Should you ever ghost someone?
So, is there really any time that it would be considered appropriate to ghost someone? Simply put, no. If you are having problems in your relationship, then you should be talking to your partner in the first instance, not ghosting them! If you’re not happy, just walking away from someone and cutting them out of your life is a pretty crappy thing to do.
If you take the time to talk to them about the problem, you may be able to work it out. If you can’t, then at least you have had a proper conversation about it, and if you do choose to break up with the other person, they hopefully won’t feel completely blindsided.
If you ghost someone, the other person is also going to be left with questions as to what happened and what they may have done wrong. Even if the relationship was pretty crappy, and may have deteriorated to a point where it is no longer recoverable, everyone deserves an explanation.
It may be as simple as you have fallen out of love, you just don’t feel a connection or share the same interests. If you chose to start a relationship with someone, then you should be giving them an explanation as to why it has ended.
Is ghosting ever justified?
There may be times however where you do need to cut someone out of your life, as his or her behavior may be considered extremely toxic. If you actually spoke to them and told them that the relationship is over and the reasons why, and then they continually call you or engage in behaviors that are inappropriate or become abusive, cutting them out of your life for those reasons would not technically be considered ghosting and can easily be justified.
Then you have those that love to ghost out of someone’s life, and then decide to randomly fade back in and happen to wonder if you are free and want to catch up. Things seem to go okay for a while, and then surprise, they repeat the cycle and ghost you again. Don’t do this to others and more importantly, don’t let this be done to you!
Sometimes people fall into this behavior when they have history with someone and there are a lot of emotions. They may care about the person but it is no longer a healthy, happy relationship. They miss the good times with the other person, but the moment it gets tough or they don’t like something, they disappear! For those that do this, if you aren’t happy in a relationship, just say it’s over and keep it at that.
Toying with someone’s feelings like that is just mean as they care enough to let you back into their life and give you another chance. If you seriously don’t want another chance at rebuilding the relationship, then just stay away. Ghosting someone you claim to care about, shows that you have very little respect for others, and it is not considered a nice thing to do to others by most people!
If you are someone who is just looking for something fun, and dating lots of people, then tell the other person up front. If you get tired of them after a few dates, and think that ghosting them is the easiest option as you then don’t have to deal with the slightly awkward or difficult conversation of ending things, maybe you should avoid relationships and dating in general.
Having fun when dating is one thing, but hurting others because of immaturity and the inability to have a conversation with someone else, even if it’s hard, shows that maybe you are not grown up enough. Many people may be looking for exactly the same thing and want to casually date, however many are looking for a serious relationship. Have fun dating, but it should never be at the expense of others.
The rise of ghosting and social media.
The dating scene can be quite complex with many dating websites and app, social media and mobile phones making it easy to connect with lots of different people that you normally wouldn’t meet. Although this is great in many ways, it also means that ghosting is becoming even easier to do with minimal repercussions on the person doing the ghosting. Previously, people shared similar social circles and friends and therefore people couldn’t get away with this type of behavior as easily.
Unfortunately, with the rise in technology, ghosting is becoming a common practice so many people will experience it at some point in their life. It is important to remember though that everyone deserves to be treated with a basic level of respect when ending things, whether they were only dating, in a relationship or married.