Linda, 25, started dating Tom, 29. Things happened pretty quickly, but they appeared to be on the same page. At least that’s what Linda believed. They’d met each other’s friends and planned a day trip out of the city together the next day. He sent her a text saying he was on his way to her apartment to pick her up. As time progressed and despite her numerous texts to him, he never showed up. For the next few days, she sent several texts to make sure he was okay. She never heard from him again.
Brian, 31, had been dating Katie, 28 for a couple of months. They’d started off texting and emailing as they got to know one another. Once they met, they soon started dating. Although they didn’t speak of being exclusive, it felt and seemed that way to Brian. They had several dates and communicated often. Brian was totally smitten. After a weekend getaway, they said goodbye to one another at the train station. They texted each other when they got home and talked about the next time they were to get together. He was excited. He felt very strongly about Kayla and felt she had similar feelings. After that night, she disappeared from his life. Despite his attempts to communicate with her, he heard nothing in return. He was devastated.
The way a person can cut a person out of their life is horrendous. Not only have you been dumped, you’ve been ghosted.
Ghosting denies the opportunity for discussion and closure.
It’s confusing and a painful blow. The paradox of our fast-paced digital dating culture allows us to quickly connect and then disconnect from someone. In a blink, poof! Gone. It’s far from new, but as dating grows faster, it’s become more convenient and less personal. Ghosting leaves more questions than answers and provides fertile ground for people like me (and other therapists) to explore this cruel phenomenon with absolutely no regard for the other person. Common courtesy? Forget about it. In a blink, poof! Gone. Someone you may have bonded or connected with over several dates or even longer suddenly disappears in a phantom-like way. Never to hear from them again. Ahh, the audacity. But here we are. This is what our society has become.
BUT, before you go blaming yourself (as most people do who fall victim to this cowardly act), don’t. It’s as simple as that. Because people who ghost have one very important trait in common—they’re avoiders. Of relationships. Of life.
They have a keen ability to avoid confrontation at all costs and equally, don’t want to deal with their own uncomfortable feelings. They have issues. The emotional maturity that comes with giving the person you are dating an ounce of common courtesy is not in their emotional vocabulary or repertoire. No option there for them! Their emotional immaturity trumps the desire to do the right thing and just come clean about wanting to move on. Even one of the coldest ways to break up – texting! – is beyond their ability. A simple two line text – hey – just not that into you any more or sorry, this isn’t a good fit for me goes by the wayside, never a thought to be considered. Doing the right thing – no matter how uncomfortable – never dawns on them. They have moved on long before that final text, date or communication with you. Like I said, they have issues.
When you’re the one who’s been ghosted, you are overcome with feelings of rejection, anger, and confusion.
At first, you may actually worry about the other person’s well-being. Is he or she safe? Did they get hurt? I just want to make sure they ok – then I can move on. You end up waiting to hear something, anything. You constantly check your phone for texts, calls, and emails after reaching out (because you can almost always tell if your text has been delivered and read). It’s torture. This is because their behavior doesn’t make any sense to you and it’s important for us to make sense of things in life. But, eventually, because of social media, you discover that yes, he or she is just fine. Alive and well. They post pictures and status updates on Facebook or Instagram. However, when you see that and before anger sets in, you initially experience self-doubt and blame. Did I imagine that things were going great? What did I do that could have turned him or her off? I did hear her or him correctly that they would call me to make plans, right?