What about ghosting?

Ghosting is a comparatively modern dating slang phrase that refers to suddenly cutting off communication with someone without offering that person any notice or justification for doing so. A person being ghosted is met with silence even if they reach out and try to re-establish communication or resolve a conflict. Most of us associate it with the digital world: a friend or, worse, a lover failing to respond to a text. However, it can occur in any social setting and is deeply rooted in our worldview.

Even though ghosting has been around for a long time, modern technology is making it a more prominent strategy for ending relationships.  That is the commencement and growth of romantic and peer relationships for today’s cohorts are often facilitated by technology-mediated communication, such as texting, social media, and dating websites. Ghosting as a strategy of relationship termination then becomes merely the act of avoiding certain modes of communication with a particular individual.

“Ghosting, icing, and simmering are manifestations of the decline of empathy in our society — the promoting of one’s selfishness, without regard for the consequences of others.”

Psychotherapist, Esther Perel

According to psychologist Jennice Vilhauer, this ambiguity is the true dagger. She compares ghosting to emotional torture as a sort of silent treatment (the pain it causes can be treated with Tylenol, according to multiple studies). Dr. Vilhauer says she’s selective about whom she interacts with. From the outset, you’ll be able to tell what kind of person you’re dealing with. She went on to say that ghosting has a lot to do with someone’s behavior and how they deal with their emotions. Many people believe that expressing their feelings will lead to a confrontation. People avoid things that make them feel uncomfortable because of this mental anticipation. It’s easy to feel that you don’t have much responsibility if you ghost someone in the dating world, where individuals meet a lot of people they don’t know in their social circles. If you’re never going to see them again, it’s easy to do so because their friends don’t know your friends. Esther Perel, a psychologist and a pioneer in the field of contemporary relationships, describes “ghosting, icing, and simmering as manifestations of the decline of empathy in our society — the promoting of one’s selfishness, without regard for the consequences of others.”

The more dates you go on, the more it feels like a failure, and the more you become disheartened, especially for those seeking love in emotional echo chambers on the online platform. Dr. Freedman, who studies social rejection, notes that those with rigid destiny views are more likely to believe that persons in relationships are either destined to be together or not—that is, that individuals have soul mates—than those with malleable destiny beliefs. Growth beliefs are similar to growth mindsets in that they are based on the assumption that relationships develop over time. In other words, folks with more widespread growth views believe that relationships are changeable and can be improved through dialogue and overcoming relationship obstacles.

When a person is being ghosted, it can have an influence on the person’s mental health. Particularly if it’s the first time you’ve ever been ghosted, it feels almost like a sudden loss or bereavement. You’re stunned, and in denial, rationalizing that ‘maybe they didn’t read my text message.’ Then you experience fury– thinking ‘not only did the individual not want to date me, but I was also not deserving of an explanation’ can make someone feel dehumanized and undervalued. As you mentally analyze your relationship and your most recent conversation for probable warning signs, you may experience feelings of melancholy and anxiety, as well as feelings of low self-esteem. It’s frequently more painful when the relationship has been simmering for a while, although it may even feel this way if the connection was fresh.

In spite of the fact that it may not be what they want to hear, telling someone how you actually feel is beneficial. We can alter the manner in which we reject others. Be honest and forthright about boundaries, whether you’re going to a movie or committing the rest of your life with someone. Additionally, do not apologize; you did nothing wrong; you are simply informing them that it is not working, which is perfectly fine. It is not your fault that you are experiencing these emotions. While this may sound harsh, it is preferable relatively to be left in limbo. These messages are succinct, straightforward, and honest, and conclude with an outro to indicate that you do not wish to engage in a lengthy and drawn-out dialogue. While you may encounter a harsh or hurtful reaction from the other party, it is far preferable to depart the relationship after providing an explanation than to simply disappear.

However, there are undoubtedly exceptions—cases in which further communication is detrimental or even dangerous. There are instances where ghosting is the only viable choice, such as when the individual is married or in a relationship, engaging in illegal or unsavory activities, or exhibiting toxic behaviors and abuse. In such instances, you are not obligated to provide an explanation for unexpectedly terminating the connection. You should always trust your gut instincts if you are feeling uncomfortable or intimidated by someone in any way. Ghosting can be an effective form of self-protection and mental serenity. Your safety and mental health are of the utmost importance– take care of self.

References

Freedman, Gili, et al. “Ghosting and Destiny: Implicit Theories of Relationships Predict Beliefs about Ghosting.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 36, no. 3, Mar. 2019, pp. 905–924, doi:10.1177/0265407517748791.

Vilhauer, Jennice. “Speaking of Psychology: What to Do When You’ve Been Ghosted.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/ghosting.

Gould, Wendy Rose. “What Is Ghosting?” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 14 Sept. 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-ghosting-5071864#citation-5.

Popescu, Adam. “Why People Ghost – and How to Get over It.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Jan. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/smarter-living/why-people-ghost-and-how-to-get-over-it.html.