Originally published on PhiladelphiaMFT.com.
One of the more prevalent dating occurrences that have popped up in the last couple of years is the concept of “ghosting”. Ghosting is the act of being in a relationship (or both parties involved actively working towards one) with someone and then seemingly out of nowhere having one person vanish from the life of the other person involved without explanation. No warning, no conversation as to why; nothing. It may sound bizarre but more than 50% of both men and women who are dating in this day and age have experienced this phenomenon. With the introduction of dating apps, easier access to dating prospects and busy schedules; it’s easy to fall somewhere on the spectrum between being the “ghoster” or the “ghostee” (you like my made up words? me too.) So what do you do when you’re the one on the receiving end?
1. Understand that it’s not you; it’s them.
As cliché as it sounds, someone magically disappearing from your life can have little to do with how you behaved and everything to do with that person not wanting to deal with their own emotions or actions in your relationship. People often ghost to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings when they have to have a difficult conversation or breakup. They could also not feel the same about the seriousness of the relationship. But either way on some level they want to avoid awkwardness and conflict, so ghosting is appealing for that reason.
2. Redefine your definition of closure.
In situations where you’ve been ghosted, you have to redefine what closure looks like regarding that relationship. Things didn’t end traditionally so you’ll have to do a lot of processing on your own (or with a therapist) about all the questions you have for that person and the meaning of your time together. Closure may look more like you gaining an understanding about judging a person’s character or learning that you’re way stronger than you knew yourself to be to have experienced and bounced back from being ghosted.
3. Allow yourself to grieve.
Even though there was no clear ending or resolve to the relationship; you still have to give yourself time to grieve and heal from it. Being ghosted is hurtful and humiliating when you actually cared about the person and saw a future together. It makes you feel like you missed red flags about the person while you were cultivating this relationship with them. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, and grieve the hope that you had for the person and your relationship.
4. Recognize that being ghosted doesn’t determine your value.
Being the “ghostee” can make you feel like garbage but understand that you are not trash. Someone deciding to not see your value enough to formally break up with you is the other persons problem; not yours. It also doesn’t diminish how meaningful the relationship was for you. Do whatever you can to reinforce that you are worthy of love and a healthy happy relationship.