What to do if You're Being Ghosted
Why do people ghost?!?! "It is so frustrating!" "Why not just tell me what isn't working?" I hear these comments all the time from singleton's clients. Well, there are some reasons. The good news is that it isn't really about you most of the time. I've noticed some trends in why people ghost. The biggest reason is that they don't want to hurt someone's feelings. However, there is more to it than just protecting the other person. It is about how it feels to disappoint someone. This means that ultimately it is about the person ghosting you, not you. Many people think direct interaction about their feelings is hard to do. Some do not want the other person to cry or be there when it happens. This is usually due to a lack of tolerance for negative feelings. Another reason can be the previous experience of being in the room when a parent, sibling, or friend was crying.
Reason #1 They are Feeling Ill-Equipped
Ending it with someone is difficult. It also brings up a feeling of helplessness. The person does not feel they can do anything to comfort the other person because they are causing it. So there is also guilt and shame linked to it. With ghosting, it is possible to avoid all that.
Reason #2 Seeking Emotional Distance
Another likely reason is a person is feeling smothered by the interaction. This is typically based on attachment style. Attachment style is usually hard to change; typically, this would be an ongoing issue throughout the relationship. Because of the attachment style, they may struggle to ask for what they need or may not know it. For example, some people have difficulty saying that they prefer less communication or they are feeling performance stress; they feel like they can adequately give the other person what they need. Therefore, why not just give up?
Reason #3 Sudden Life Change
There are times when ghosting is not intentional, such as depression, illness, or injury. It is common for someone to withdraw when they are low. But, again, this is about where they are in their life. It is not really about you. However, it can be exceedingly hurtful and feel like it is about you.
Reason #4 They Don't Feel it is Necessary
Some individuals believe it is the social norm to ghost before a date; some feel it is appropriate to do that after a few dates. Unfortunately, there is no absolute rule of thumb with this. The reality is that there is some level of acceptance of it. Many people do it, and ghosting has been happening for years. It is just more apparent now. Twenty years ago, you could also get out of the confrontation by saying you didn't get the message. Now technology makes it very easy to ghost and very easy to notice. Dating apps make for more communication with new people; therefore more opportunities for this. Another factor is too much time passing, making the reach out feel unnecessary and strange. The person might feel it would be better not to reach out.
Reason #5 They Aren't that into You
There are many people out there, and there are many reasons something might not be a match. For example, a 2019 Buzzfeed poll suggests that 81 percent of people say the reason they ghosted someone was because they just weren't that into them. Of course, there are many better options than ghosting, but the reality is that some people feel this is the better option.
What can you do after you are ghosted?
Resist the urge to reach out and demand a response. This can cause various reactions and will ultimately not get what you want or need. You may also end up feeling guilty afterward.
Allow yourself to feel sad and upset. It is entirely normal to feel this way after being ghosted. Your friends might say, "Who cares? They were awful." This is well-meaning and maybe true they were not an excellent match for you. But it is still ok to feel hurt by it. Allowing the feeling allows it to end sooner.
Don't blame yourself. As stated earlier, this doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. The absolute truth is it wasn't a match. Saving your energy for the right person will be worth it. Ultimately, it is doing you a favor but does not feel like it at the time.
Ready to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation?
Laurie Groh, MS, LPC, SAS
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