Ghosting, a term that came into popularity in the last decade, is a perfect term. When someone you were matched with suddenly disappears, that individual suddenly seems like a real-life ghost. You may have any of the following thoughts when you experience a ghosting: Did we have an actual connection or did I imagine it? Was the ghoster lying to my face or did they actually care? How can a person simply disappear? If you’ve been ghosted, I am sorry and I have empathy for you. It’s not fair or just that another person treats you so callously. Keep reading to discover a plan to help you deal with this hurtful experience.
First, get clear about which feelings come up for you as a result of being ghosted
When ghosted, you may feel a tornado of feelings. Some of the most common post-ghosting feelings are confusion, sadness and anger. These negative feelings are natural in response to such poor treatment, and your reaction to the treatment is a healthy sign that you are healthy and expect mature treatment in your relationships.
Resist the urge to blame or doubt yourself
The cruelest symptom of ghosting is that the person who gets ghosted often ends up blaming or second-guessing themselves. You might wonder if you did something to turn your match off; you might fear that he or she decided that you aren’t interesting or attractive enough to merit even one more text, phone call or date. But please, don’t take another person’s selfish behavior personally.
What ghosting says about the ghoster
Yes, life is complicated and unpredictable, which means that people sometimes experience events or circumstances in their lives that cause them to act in ways they typically would not. For instance, a person could experience a limitless number of life emergencies: a loved one dies or has a serious accident; a person’s house burns down; or a person loses their job. If catastrophes like these occur, it’s fair to expect that this individual is in life-emergency mode and may be suddenly not able to communicate in a dating relationship. In these cases, the sad reality for anyone they were talking to is that this individual is simply too overwhelmed to engage romantically.
Given these freak exceptions, most ghostings are not the result of such tragic emergencies. Most ghosters ghost because they aren’t mature enough to have a real relationship. We expect this behavior from a first-grader, but not from actual adults! Ghosters ghost because they cannot tolerate the feelings that would come up for them if they were to tell their date the truth about what’s going on. Even though telling someone the truth is what you owe them – by definition – in dating them, ghosters don’t have the integrity to set aside their own feelings and focus on the feelings of the other person.
Label the ghoster’s behavior and focus on the overall lessons
Define the ghoster’s behavior. Say to yourself “No matter the specifics, not communicating to a match any further is selfish, immature and incredibly insensitive behavior.” Next, say something like this to yourself: “I am super sad and bummed, but I also know I would not want to be in a couple with someone who acts like such a #$@! anyhow. I did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment.” Notice that the statements I suggest to say to yourself draw more from anger (when you feel empowered) than sadness (when you internalize self-blame or feel hopeless). Connect with your anger and make a mental note to give an extra chance to anyone you date who calls when they say they’ll call, and shows up when they say they will.
Good quotes to remember when you’re ghosted:
- “If someone chooses to behave in an insensitive way, they have effectively reminded me why I would never want them as life partner.”
- “A person’s behavior is a reflection on them, not me.” “People show their character not through words but through their actions.”
- “If I am going to have a partner, it’s going to be someone who knows how to act like a decent adult.”
- “I don’t overthink things that make me feel bad.”
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.