We all have done it. Chances are, if you are or ever have been single, you have ghosted someone before.
And just as likely is that you have been ghosted, maybe even without realizing it. You can be ghosted by a friend, a lover, a long-term partner or even an employer who can ghost you by not responding to your application.
But ghosting is mostly happening in romantic relationships and has turned into a very common dating problem — it is said to be one of the most annoying modern dating phenomenons.
But what is ghosting? The urban dictionary defines ghosting as:
“When a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand. You’ll mostly see them avoiding friend’s phone calls, social media, and avoiding them in public.”
What do I need to know?
Ghosting in the times of online dating
Most relationships are now started via apps and not via in-person meet-ups, which makes it fairly easy to avoid someone. Ghosting obviously also happened in the past, just that your grandparents, instead of ignoring text messages, did not reply to phone calls or letters.
Ghosting is basically a rejection without explanation.
It mostly happens without any warning when you think that everything is going great. It makes you feel lost, hurt, and disappointed. It marks the abrupt ending of a new relationship — without the farewell. Depending on the intensity of your connection to each other and investment in your relationship you can differentiate between 3 types of ghosting:
- Lightweight ghosting: You do not answer or ignore a text message you receive.
- Midnight ghosting: You date someone a few times and then suddenly cut off all communication.
- Heavyweight ghosting: You enter a more serious sexual relationship and then leave without warning and explanation.
How dating apps changed the way we date & ghost
The dating process was very different in the times of your grandparents. In the past, the choices of meeting someone new were limited to your group of friends or work. Once you found a person you took interest in, you focused all your attention on that one person who became the center of your universe.
He or she was most likely the only one you were seeing and dating regularly, in the hope of developing a stable relationship. And if that didn’t work out, you just ended it and moved on to the next one.
Nowadays it is no secret how profoundly dating apps have changed dating. On a dating app, you have the choice between hundreds or even thousands of singles near you. You can simply start a conversation by using a Tinder opener or online dating icebreakers and chances are you are messaging with more than one of the other users at the same time— to validate your options.
You decide to go on a date from time to time. Maybe one of your dates has left a good impression on you. You text all day, meet up a few more times and you really get the feeling this could turn into something serious.
Of course, meanwhile, you do not stop texting your other options — just to be on the safe side.
Suddenly, your possible dream partner stops messaging you for good. You do not hear a word from them in days, then weeks. You wonder what you have done wrong — truth is: you have been ghosted.
But ghosting is not just something that happens to the young generation, the older generation is also affected by this phenomenon. More and more elders adapt to modern dating conventions and terms in order to find love in the digital age.
What does it mean when someone ghosts you ?
In simple words: It means the other person wasn’t feeling the relationship anymore and took the decision to end it, only without telling you.
In that way, they avoid the difficult process of explaining why they don’t want to see you anymore. They simply avoid feeling uncomfortable if they were being honest with you.
Ultimately, it’s a quite selfish and cowardly move to make, avoiding confrontation. The person does not think about your feelings at all and leaves you hanging without a line. All in all, it means they don’t know how to properly end a relationship, showing respect and most of all, guts.
And for you, that should tell you: they do not deserve you.
There are two types of relationship enthusiasts — the ones that believe in destiny and the ones that believe in growth.
Strong believers in destiny have a more fixed mindset and are looking for their soulmate — that means that a higher percentage of them thinks that ghosting is an acceptable way to end a long-term relationship.
On the other hand, believers in growth are more flexible and patient with a relationship as they think that every hurdle can be overcome and used for growth. That type of person is less likely to ghost someone.
Ghosting basically encompasses social rejection, and studies have shown that rejection of any kind activated the same brain receptors as physical pain.
Because you don’t feel a sense of closure, your self-esteem and self-worth are majorly affected.
Ghosting also happens a lot via dating apps which are no exception to frauds and romance scams. The hard truth is that the digital world isn’t completely safe, dating sites can be hacked and used for bad things.
How to react to being ghosted
When someone decides to stop responding to your messages, it will be difficult to get a proper explanation of why they suddenly changed their mind.
Especially in times of online dating apps and sites, it is very easy to block or ignore someone, or even just delete your own profile and disappear forever. Understand that when someone is ghosting you it means they are either too scared to respond or just could not care less about your feelings (probably, they never really cared).
Getting a straight response is rather unlikely, that is why it’s best to just accept and move on. Remember, it’s their problem, not yours. They are unable to take responsibility. They are most likely driven by fear.
Most of the times when you confront someone who is ghosting you, and they actually give you an answer, the answer will be a poor excuse. “Sorry, I have been very busy” is one of the most common excuses.
If you really want to shed some last words to that person, the most important rule is: Do not apologize.
You don’t have anything to apologize for, because it was not you who left without a trace.
What many victims to ghosting also consider being helpful is to craft a message to tell your ghost everything you feel and ever wanted to say, without necessarily sending it — just to make yourself feel better and let go of some old baggage.
The sooner you let them go, the better. Someone who does not respect you does not deserve your precious attention and time.
How to get over being ghosted — 6 steps to overcome ghosting
1. Allow all feelings to simply be.
It is completely normal to feel hurt when someone you invested a lot of time and effort in, suddenly disappears. Allow yourself to feel it all — the anger, the sadness, the disappointment. Do what you must do feel what you must — eat a bucket of ice cream, meet your best friend and vent, write in your journal, dance it out or go on a little vacation. The first step is always acceptance.
2. Realize that it is not your fault.
Being rejected this way is not a failure of yours, it is only a reflection of who the person that ghosted you is. So, don’t take it personally and be the mature one in the relationship. Ghosting is only done by immature people who cannot take responsibility for their own actions.
3. Move on and let it go.
You accepted that you have been ghosted, got all the feelings out and recognized that it is not your fault — now let it go. Moving on is a crucial step because the last thing you want to do is waste more time and energy on that person by asking yourself what you have done wrong or could have done better, crafting messages, stalking him or her on social media or spending hours talking with your friends about it. Delete his or her contact and let it go.
4. Be sure of what you want in life and look forward.
Congratulations, now you know you don’t want to be with someone that is immature and doesn’t respect you. At least you know what you don’t want. Now it is time to focus on what you want in your life and show respect to yourself — hold your head high and be confident! The right person will enter your life sooner or later.
5. Do not be scared to be vulnerable again.
Vulnerability is the base of creating intimacy between two people — so if you want deep, meaningful connections, you need to open your heart and take the risk of being hurt again. Who knows, maybe this time you will be truly respected and seen for who you really are.
6. Get back into the dating world — but be careful!
Getting back into the dating world is a good step to take to forget your ghost. But you need to be very careful to avoid being hurt again. Choose the dating site you are using carefully and check their safety precautions beforehand, sometimes it can be safer to choose a dating site where you must pay, to assure the members take dating seriously. If you are unsure whether someone is taking advantage of you, ask a friend for advice — this is how you avoid being scammed on dating apps.
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What to do when a ghost returns: Conclusion
There is a fair chance that the person that ghosted you returns after a few weeks as if nothing has happened.
It is ok to let a ghost back into your life if they have a reasonable explanation to offer, but which explanation you accept and which not, is entirely up to you.
Empathy is a good virtue to have for someone who ghosts really might not be emotionally available or fulfilled. But be careful with falling for any excuse. It is very likely that you will be ghosted by that person again.
Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake and ghost someone, even unintentionally. Choose your friends and dates carefully, invest your time in the right people and be open and honest about your feelings in the relationship.
Ghosting has and always will be part of human relationships. We have to accept it and do our best to recognize, accept and if possible, avoid it. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and the people we are close to. The truth is: Figuring love out, especially in the digital age, is not easy, but it is worth a try.