What Does Ghosting Mean? And How To Deal With It

What Does Ghosting Mean? And How To Deal With It

Let’s imagine you’ve just started to like someone. Communication has been going well, and you’re beginning to consider making long term plans. Suddenly, this person disappears without warning – no calls, texts, or messages on social media… You’ve gone from texting each and every day to no communication at all! This leaves you thinking, what in the world could have happened? Well, chances are you’ve been ghosted. 

Although this may seem like a relatively new concept, different forms of ghosting have been around for decades. However, with the rise of social media and online dating apps, it has become increasingly easy for people to drop in and out of someone’s life, cutting ties with no explanation. In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at what ghosting is, why people choose to ghost, how it might make you feel and some valuable tips on how to handle it!

What Is “Ghosting”?

Seen as a relatively new term in colloquial language, ghosting refers to abruptly cutting contact with someone without giving them a warning or a particular reason. If that someone attempts to reach out, they are met with silence or are even blocked from making further contact [1]. The term itself is based on the ‘vanishing’ of someone, similar to that of a ghost.

Ghosting is most commonly used in romantic relationships. However, it is definitely not limited to them [2]. Ghosting can occur in any kind of relationship – friendship, work relationships or even relationships within a family. 

In a study conducted in 2018 by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, it was found that 25% of participants had been ghosted by a romantic partner, and 20% had ghosted someone themselves. Ghosting in friendships seems to be even more common, with more than a third of participants claiming they had ghosted a friend, or had been ghosted themselves [3]. Surprisingly, these figures may be even higher than we thought, as another study found that 72% of their participants reported that they had been ghosted [4].

Why Do Some People Choose to Ghost?

As you can imagine, there are several reasons one might decide to ghost someone. However, these reasons can be broken down into 2 main categories [2]:

1.It’s The Easy Way Out

For many, confrontation is incredibly difficult, and ghosting may appear as an easy way out of it. When you are no longer interested in continuing a relationship with someone, simply cutting contact or blocking someone’s number is often a preferred choice compared to having an awkward, uncomfortable conversation. 

This can also be understood as a type of avoidance which often stems from a fear of conflict. Although avoidance may seem like a simpler way out, research has shown that it often leads to more significant confrontations down the line and works to reinforce feelings of anxiety, both for the ghoster and the ghosted [5]. In fact, when conflict is continually avoided, more fear builds up, creating a type of vicious cycle.

2.Infinite Options And Dating Fatigue

The rise in online dating has created a feeling of having infinite choices, which is a big difference from walking into a bar and only having 5-10 options (if you’re lucky!). This tremendous increase in the number of choices one has can create a ‘what else?’ or ‘is there something better’ mindset. By juggling a number of online relationships, one can begin to feel overwhelmed by choices and the emotional responsibility they now hold. 

Ghosting - What is it and why people do it

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How Do You Know If Someone Is Ghosting You?

Sometimes, suppose you’re really invested in a relationship, friendship or connection with someone. In that case, it can be hard to see through lousy communication and determine whether you are being ghosted.

Here are some questions to consider:

– Is this normal behaviour for them?

If you notice a change in their behaviour, for example, they have constantly communicated with you but have suddenly disappeared without any reason, you may have been ghosted.

– Has something in your relationship changed?

 Have you had any arguments or announced something shocking? Perhaps you told them you love them for the first time, but now they’ve lost contact? 

– Have either of you experienced major life events?

Perhaps they’ve moved into a new house, started a new job or experienced a traumatic event in their life? If this is the case, the lack of communication may be temporary. However, if not, you may have been ghosted.

Aside from these essential questions, it’s critical to recognise that more often than not, when someone values the relationship they have with you, they will always make time or find a way to communicate their feelings. 

Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this norm. Whether it be a friend, partner, or family member who has ghosted you, consider that they may be going through mental health issues, such as social anxiety or depression. Social anxiety and depression make communication increasingly difficult (with you or anyone else!). They might be struggling with feelings of worthlessness, fear, or shame, which could influence their ability to keep in touch.

How Does Being Ghosted Make You Feel

 As you can imagine, or perhaps know from personal experience, being ghosted can be incredibly difficult and can, in fact, have a real psychological impact on your wellbeing.

Similar to a sudden loss, being ghosted can take you through various stages of grief, especially if you are experiencing it for the first time. You may feel shocked or begin to question yourself. This can raise feelings of paranoia or anxiety. You may think, ‘did I do something wrong?’ or perhaps question whether they even saw your text. After a while, feelings of depression can start to kick in. For example, you may begin to question your worth, lower your self-esteem and obsess over your last interaction with the person [2].

 Researchers have found that any kind of social rejection or ostracism triggers the same neural pathways as physical pain. As social beings, the human brain has created a social monitoring system that regulates social cues. When someone is ghosted, social cues are no longer available, triggering a process of emotional dysregulation and a loss of control [7] responsible for making you feel in distress.

What To Do If Someone Is Ghosting You

Unfortunately, there is no magic cure to end the heartbreak of being ghosted. However, professionals suggest a few tips to help you get through a potentially very tricky time [8].

– Be realistic

If you’ve been ghosted, chances are, this person is not the one for you. Try to accept the reality of the situation rather than rationalising or excusing their behaviour.

-Allow yourself to feel your emotions.

No matter how you’re feeling after being ghosted, your feelings are valid. Sit with them, feel them, write about them or consider talking to a friend about what you’re experiencing.

– Indulge in some self-care.

Taking extra care of yourself after a breakup (friendship, family or romantic) is a great way to kickstart the process of moving on. Why not take a hot bubble bath or take some time off for your favourite hobby? 

-Don’t dwell on the person.

For many people, ghosting can ignite feelings of shame and self-doubt. During this time, it’s essential to recognise that being ghosted is not about you but rather a reflection of the other person’s emotional immaturity and communication skills.

– Avoid all contact.

Maintaining any form of contact will prevent you from really moving on. Make sure to remove your ghoster from all social media and cease all communication with them.

-Don’t isolate yourself.

Don’t be afraid to get back out there! You are an incredible person worthy of someone who recognises and respects that. Getting back into the dating scene is a great way to forget about a potential ghoster.

-Talk to someone.

If you’re struggling to cope following a breakup, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who you can talk to about your feelings. An excellent first step would be to seek out anxiety therapy, depression counselling or even relationship counselling

What To Do If Someone Is Ghosting You

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What To Say When Someone Is Ghosting You

Being ghosted can often make you feel powerless. That’s why it’s important to communicate one last time in a way that makes you feel empowered again! It’s also a great way to get closure on the relationship. Without closure, we tend to obsess over that person, allowing them to live in our minds rent-free, hindering our ability to move on and prolonging potential suffering [9].  Here are a few lines that you can use to get a sense of closure, evict them from your mind and start the moving on process! 

“”It was nice getting to know you; I wish you well in the future”” – this lets the other person know that you are serious about your relationships and leave no room for excuses.

“”I can tell you might not be a good texter. Maybe we could meet in real life sometime”” – this line can be used if you’re not 100% sure whether you’ve been ghosted and would like to extend an invitation one last time.

“It’s been a while since I heard from you, just wanted to check if you’re okay”” – this line can be used if you feel as though something might have happened or would feel more at ease if you simply checked in.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I’m looking for something more reliable and consistent”” – this is another excellent line to let the other person know that you don’t tolerate a lack of communication and respect. More power to you!  

What To Say When Someone Is Ghosting You

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Tackle Being ‘‘Ghosted” with Therapy Central

Although dealing with any form of anxiety or depression can seem like an impossible task, you shouldn’t give up hope just yet. At Therapy Central, we use evidence-based interventions such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other approaches to help individuals get their life back on track. In this way, you’ll be able to discuss your experience with relationships or being ghosted with professionals equipped to provide you with the help you need to make helpful and sustainable changes to your life.

Consider contacting one of our qualified therapists today.

You can contact us and request a free 15 min consultation to see whether our help fits your needs.

More readings:

Anxiety Therapy in London or Online  

Depression Counselling in London or Online

Relationship Counselling in London or Online 

 

References: 

[1] – https://www.mdpi.com/

[2] – https://www.verywellmind.com/

[3] https://www.livescience.com/

[4] https://online.ucpress.edu/

[5] https://www.huffpost.com/

[6] https://www.menshealth.com/

[7] https://www.psychologytoday.com/

[8] https://psychcentral.com/

[9]https://melmagazine.com/

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