Have you experienced a friend or a date, abruptly cutting off contact without giving any warning or explanation for doing so? Even when you try to reach out to ask for an explanation or to re-initiate contact, you are met with abrupt silence. This is called Ghosting – as if they have vanished into thin air like a ghost! Ghosting affects some of us very profoundly. It can have both short-term and long-term consequences. In the short-term, ghosting may lead to internalized feelings of self-criticism and self-doubt, and over time the person may develop trust issues in future relationships, main ingredients for developing intimacy. Mai Elsayed tells us more on this phenomenon which has increased with the advent of the social media.
What is Ghosting?
Ghosting is when a person cuts all form of communication suddenly and disappears without any warning. In relationships, it can be described as a form of rejection without closure.
Why is it named so?
The term “ghosting” comes from the idea that people vanish like ghosts.
Why do some people Ghost?
Often, individuals ghost others because they have fear of confrontation. They don’t have the courage to break up with their companion and find it easier to leave in silence with the assumption that their partner will eventually move on. This behaviour could very much come from a good place and with good intentions such as not wanting to hurt their partner’s feelings and therefore they believe that the best course of action is to avoid the situation altogether.
They may feel embarrassed and uncomfortable to explain themselves or express why they want to end the relationship. They may also be worried about how their companion might react, especially if family and friends are involved and it is a serious relationship. In extreme cases, the ghosted can be dangerous, narcissistic and toxic and therefore the ghoster prefers to leave in silence to avoid the vicious cycle of guilt tripping, drama and pain. In all cases, the way a person chooses to exit the relationship is a reflection of who they are. In no way does it necessarily define the value and worth of the ghosted individual.
How does it impact the Ghosted?
The concept of grieving due to death of a dear one is widely discussed in psychology. But people barely, if ever, talk about grieving because of being ghosted. Imagine losing a person to void, you are unable to contact or reach them in any way. Yet somehow, you know they are still alive. It can be detrimental especially in long-term, distance relationship. It is one of those taboo topics that the world does not discuss because we don’t realize how common it is. Victims of ghosting fear expressing it and friends and family often do not know how painful it is for an individual to get ghosted and not be able to get closure needed to move on.
The ghosted experiences the same stages of grief as those who lose a loved one to death. They mourn their partner and experience reinforced rejection time and time again as they unsuccessfully try to contact the person who ghosted them. This could significantly impact their self-worth.
Does it impact the Ghoster? If so, how?
According to a study titled “Disappearing in the Age of Hypervisibility: Definition, Context, and Perceived Psychological Consequences of Social Media Ghosting, “65% of ghosters feel anxious and guilty after ghosting” someone. That said, there is absolutely no reason one should ghost another. People should clearly communicate that they are leaving – regardless of whether this relationship is personal or professional. I understand that it is sometimes challenging to share the reasons behind our departure, but it is against all morals and values to simply disappear from someone’s life – especially someone who trusts us. We owe it to your partners to inform them if we want to leave the relationship.
What should one do if Ghosted?
We all grieve differently and bereavement due to being ghosted is just another way of mourning someone we lost. The most important first step is to stop trying to contact the person who ghosted you as this will only further reinforce the pain of being rejected. Shift your focus on the healing instead of fixating on fixing something out of your control.
For example, try the goodbye therapy. It is a type of therapy in which you can get to visualise the person who abandoned you and speak to them as if they were physically present with you. Tell them everything you feel and make the best out of this opportunity to let out all your emotions before saying goodbye.
On that note, if you are a victim of being ghosted, please accept your emotions without judging them. You have been hurt and disappointed, and it’s ok to feel angry and sad. Please don’t blame yourself for their disappearance.
You can even practice journaling to put all your emotions in perspective instead of simply ruminating about what could have been. Journaling will also help you remember what you really want out of a relationship and will help you acknowledge your value.
Every experience in life comes with a lesson. Let’s go back to the basics of linguistics and psychology. We have been defining the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ in the incorrect manner. Negative does not mean bad and positive is not equivalent to good. When we define something to be ‘negative’, we simply imply that it is a block, or we see it from a ‘segregating’ angle. On the other hand, when we have the perception that something is ‘positive’, it subconsciously becomes ‘integrative’. By interpreting an event or a situation to be negative, we manifest a blockage that hinders our growth and evolution. Therefore, it affects our thoughts and behavior. What you can do is shift your perception of what you consider negative. Instead of considering it a blockage in your life, transform it into a diversion on the path of life which will take you to a better place. Believe that everything happens for a reason and perceive the event to be part of a process.
Disappear by Mai Elsayed:
Based on a true story, Disappear is about Rose, a young woman who is in the throes of despair and a dark abyss despite being with her loving parents and sister. All it took was Adam disappearing from her life, to throw her into despair and disarray. It started affecting Rose in all aspects of her day to day life until she broke down. Did Rose find a way to heal and become her own person again? The way she used to be? Read this riveting book to get your answer.
Physical and mental health blogger at The-Human-Side.com