Posted: October 2, 2019 Contributor: Maddie Quinn
How to Deal With Being Ghosted
It’s spooky season, y’all! And that brings us to the apropos topic of ghosting. Let’s kick things off with a firm definition of ghosting—believe it or not, it’s now so prevalent that it’s in the Oxford dictionary. In case you’re unclear, ghosting is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” In other words, you think a new relationship is going well, and then all of a sudden you stop hearing from the other person. They’re not answering your texts and leaving you on read. A million thoughts run through your mind—did you say or do something wrong? Are they okay? Did something happen to them? Did they die? Unfortunately, the most likely answer is that you’ve been ghosted.
Why is ghosting so painful?
F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst says, “Although you may have felt intensely connected to the person who has disappeared, in many instances, it isn’t the loss of the relationship or even of the person that you are upset about.” In other words, your brain was starting to get used to the idea of having the other person around. You may have started thinking about a future with that person, and then all of a sudden the rug is pulled out from under you. That sudden disengagement is painful, and it’s human nature to want to reach out to the person and reverse that pain.
Ghosting can also be painful because there’s such a lack of closure in the relationship. Because the other person never officially broke things off with you, you’re likely to hold onto hope a little longer than you probably should. It also leaves you with a lot of questions, and it’s easy to start replaying every interaction in your head. Without a definitive end to the relationship, it takes longer to start moving on. Below we’ve included some helpful tips on how to deal with being ghosted.
Do’s and Don’ts When You Suspect You’ve Been Ghosted
1. Don’t double-text them.
…or triple-text them, or quadruple-text them. It just comes off as desperate. Besides, what are you accomplishing with those extra texts? If the other person genuinely wants to talk to you, they will reach out. This doesn’t mean playing texting games, but if a person is unresponsive, don’t continue to contact them.
2. Do take time for yourself.
You may not feel like it, but it’s important to continue to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. Research has shown that all of those things are crucial in managing psychological pain. Healthy practices like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation can also lower stress hormones and reduce physical and emotional strain. There’s even evidence to suggest that those practices can alter some of the neural pathways that cause emotional pain. If all else fails, just try to distract yourself by immersing yourself in other activities.
3. Don’t stalk them on social media.
Trust us on this one—you’ll just end up driving yourself crazy. You find yourself asking, why are they posting on Instagram and tweeting but haven’t responded to my text?! It’s tempting to check in on them, but it isn’t the healthiest way to begin to move on after you’ve been ghosted, and it will only prolong the inevitable. If it helps, you can even block them on social media. Remember—you don’t owe anyone anything.
4. Do accept and acknowledge that you’ve been ghosted.
Hey, it’s okay—it happens to everyone at some point. By accepting and acknowledging that you’ve been ghosted, you can start moving on. Ghosting can be really frustrating because there’s a lack of closure—there’s no definitive end to the relationship; it just kind of fizzles out. This may seem like a cruel way to go about things, but sometimes the “ghost” feels like it’s the easiest way to let someone down without hurting his or her feelings (spoiler alert—it’s not).
Letting go and moving on
When all is said and done, just know that you’ll feel better when you move on (I know, I know—easier said than done). Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and move on at your own pace. When in doubt, remember that if someone genuinely wants to talk to you and pursue a relationship, they will find a way to make that happen.