Ghosting: Why It Hurts and What to Do About It
The word ghosting seems to have gained popularity recently. "Ghosting" is commonly used to describe an action in the dating world.... it goes like this: "we went out on a few great dates over the course of a couple months, and things were going well! We had a funny text banter going that got me through my work day! Then, one day I didn't wake up to my normal slew of texts. I texted 'Good Morning' .... no reply. I texted again 30 minutes later, 'How's the coffee?' No reply. I never heard from him nor saw him again. He ghosted me!"
Ghosting in the dating world is not only wrong, but it sucks. But ghosting can happen in any relationship context, and it does. Full disclosure, I was ghosted by one of my closest friends. To this day I have no idea what on earth why but I suddenly got cut off. Therapists get ghosted by clients who one week were completely engaged, consistent, and committed, and the next week they no-showed to their appointments. Concerned follow-up outreach goes into the abyss of email and voicemail no-mans land....
The psychological impact of ghosting is immediate and profound. All we can think is, "what did I do?" And "what could I have done differently?" Or even "what is wrong with me?"
Our instinct is not to ask, "what is going on for that person that he/she did that?" We don't consider "what is wrong with that person that they handle a shift in feelings that way?"
But we should be asking exactly that.
The phrase: "It's not me, it's you" applies here. When someone ghosts, a few things are at play, and I encourage you to consider each the next time this happens to you:
One: This person has not developed the verbal nor maturity skills to communicate a desired change in even the most basic way. At the bare minimum, a text or email, which requires no direct interaction, even felt impossible or inaccessible to them. And that's kinda sad.
Two: This person is having such unresolved mixed feelings (read: ambivalence) that they can't sort them out in a remotely productive way, even without causing hurt to someone else where it could have been prevented.
Three: This person doesn't have the emotional vocabulary you would have wanted and needed from them to maintain the relationship long term. They ghosted you because of it, and they will ghost someone else.
There's no doubt about it. When it happens, ghosting hurts. It calls into question everything you thought you knew about yourself as it related to that other person. It makes you doubt your worth as a friend, lover, partner, etc.
It can raise every insecurity known to man. And those insecurities can be raised every time you think or talk about being ghosted in the future.
Some people have thick skin and can laugh it off, but those people are very few. Most people certainly feel emotionally impacted by ghosting. Talking to a counselor, friend, and family can help you sort through the confusion and regain lost confidence, as well as figure out whether to or how to respond.
Ghosting prevents relationship doors from being neatly closed. It leaves business unfinished and questions from being answered. Every human being deserves better. It's so basic. But for those who ghost, their issues are not so basic ... And this is what you must remind yourself as you pick up and move on and return your focus to the many others in your life who deserve your attention and energy.
If you need help moving onward and upward, and gaining the confidence and vision you need to connect to the types of relationships you really want, please call 860-339-6515 or click here for your free initial consultation. I'm here to help.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call (860) 339-6515 for your free initial 15-minute consultation.
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