Ghosting During Spooky SeasonOct 19, 2022
It’s October and the fall vibes have commenced. The smell of pumpkin spice wafts through the air as leaves drift from the trees and your favorite hot drink warms your hands.
You check your text messages as it’s been a week since you’ve heard from your summer boo.
“Are they busy, or are they ghosting me?”
Halloween decorations aren’t the only spooky thing to watch out for this year… There’s also an uprise in ghosting.
Social media messaging, online dating and a plethora of other dating options has led people to using the quick and dirty nonverbal behavior of ghosting.
Ghosting, (as spooky as it sounds) is a way of ending a relationship with someone by stopping all forms of communication without any explanation. This can occur in a variety of relationships, and is not exclusive to romantic connections.
Ghosting is usually obvious.
The ghosted starts to realize that the ghostee has stopped texting, is leaving them on “read,” or avoiding other forms of contact.
Even when the ghosted reaches out, they are left with no reply or small breadcrumbs of communication.
In addition to ghosting, some people may “breadcrumb,” which is sending noncommittal flirtatious messages with the hopes of leaving the door open for communication in the future or for entertainment purposes.
Why Do People Ghost?
- Ghosting can be seen as passive aggressive, immature, and at times can be emotionally abusive.
- Ghosting is a coping mechanism used to avoid a conversation in ending a relationship or connection.
In our current day and age of digital connections, there are a multitude of ways to meet new people. Dating options have increased exponentially, and the dating pool is bottomless. Thus, leaving daters with the ability to move on quickly, since “there are so many fish in the sea.”
Many ghostees see stopping communication as the easiest avenue out of a relationship.
Communication is a huge aspect of any relationship and if the person is not comfortable with having open, honest communication about their feelings, they may opt out of giving closure to others. This can save them from feelings of awkwardness and vulnerability or having to “take care of” the person on the other end of the relationship, as well as having to confront the emotions themselves.
Why is ghosting harmful?
Psychologically, vanishing into thin air without any notification or clarification can leave the ghosted feeling rejected, with thoughts of low self worth and anxiety.
Some may experience feelings of grief, sudden shock or denial, leaving the ghosted wondering, “Maybe they didn’t see my text,” or “What did I do wrong?” or “Is this really over?” The ghostee’s behavior usually triggers a flood of negative emotions, which in turn, can leave the person feeling devalued and dehumanized. This feeling can lead to having more dating anxiety and fear that it will happen again.
Ghosting can affect the ghoster too, as the ghoster is left without the closure in the relationship and does not take accountability for their own or others’ emotions. There is no way for someone to have healthy respectful consensual relationships without learning how to communicate and work through the issues at hand.
How do we heal from ghosting?
Ghosting hurts and can leave someone with excruciating emotional pain. Being left with no rational explanation or guideline of how to proceed can bring feelings of abandonment or past hurt to the forefront.
Unfortunately, since we are all connected via social media, we continuously see the people who have ghosted us throughout our feeds. This leaves the person who disappeared from your life still visible, and usually only showcasing their best attributes.
How do we grieve this loss?
- First off, take care of yourself - talk to a friend, write in your journal, eat comfort food or take a bath.
- Delete ghostees off your social media pages and other ways you are connected to them. Staying connected will only continue to provoke feelings of anxiety, abandonment, frustration and stress.
- Remind yourself that this is not a reflection of who you are. This is a reflection of the ghostee’s shortcomings.
- Grieve, grow and go forward.. Take time to feel your feelings of loss. Learn from possible red flags that popped up during the connection and move on. You are so much better than they will ever know.
Is there ever a valid reason to ghost someone?
Yes! If you feel unsafe, violated, judged, or uncomfortable in any way with a person, ghosting can be a way to keep yourself safe. Keeping yourself safe physically and emotionally safe needs to always come first.
Try this instead of ghosting:
Avoiding taking the easy path to ending a relationship will benefit both people. Whether it is a short or long term relationship, the best thing you can do when you are ready for a relationship to end is communicate that to the person.
The best way to let someone down: be kind and honest (think about what you would want). Thus, take the path of empathy and not the path of insecurity.
Here are some options you could take from:
“Hey _____, you are really awesome, but I don't feel a romantic connection growing the way I was hoping it would between us. I wish you the best of luck in finding what you are looking for.”
“Hi. I just wanted to let you know I don't see our connection going any further. I wish you nothing but the best.”
“I’ve appreciated getting to know you. Unfortunately, I am just not feeling it. I hope you find someone really special.’
Or, you could try this (better than nothing but not idea because you are not being fully honest):
“I've decided to take a break from dating and don't want to waste your time. It was great getting to know you and best of luck.”
At first, being honest can often feel uncomfortable and awkward. Will you say the wrong thing? Maybe. However, over time, this type of speaking your truth will become easier for you and more importantly, feel better. Truth and clarity always feels better than avoidance and fear.
**NOTE: Most people will respond politely with something like, ‘Thanks for letting me know. Best of luck to you also’.
Others will feel angry and want to reject you right back.
Once you send a message that shares that you are ending the dynamic as it had been mutually understood, you are no longer on the hook to respond.
So, if you get a clarifying text back, like ‘What went wrong.’ You are welcome to share only if you feel you want to.
If you get a mean text back, I recommend you do not respond. This says more about the other person than it does about you doing something wrong.
This Halloween, leave “ghosting” to the paranormal investigators.
MA, LMFT, Sex and Relationship Coach
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