For once, I am not going to use Urban Dictionary to define this term, because 1) not the most reliable source, apparently?? 2) a quote from a Huffington post article may make you think I do my research.
“Ghosting” is when someone you’re dating ends the relationship by cutting off all communication, without any explanation. – Maya Borgueta, The Psychology of Ghosting: Why People Do It and a Better Way to Break Up
So, there’s the good ole ghosting. The one, two, split. The Irish goodbye or French leave (those two I found randomly on Urban Dictionary, I will admit). Whatever you call it- you have probably done it. You have probably been ghosted. You may have simultaneously ghosted someone while they were ghosting you.
I have experienced both. Judge all you want, but at least I am admitting it. It’s a legitimate thing in our world now- you ask someone, “Oh, whatever happened with you and so-and-so?” You could get the answer “It just didn’t work out” but a lot more often you may get a “I literally have no idea, they just stopped talking to me” or a “They disappeared. I think they left the country. Or may have fallen down a storm drain. But who knows?”
So why is this all awful? Well, I’m sure you can figure it out yourself. But there are a few specific things associated with ghosting that I have total and complete beef with.
The Initial Ghosting- Worst 48-72 Hours of Your Life
Day One: It’s the first day your soon-to-be-Ghost has decided to stop talking to you. But you don’t know this, of course. It’s been maybe a few hours since you had originally expected a text, but you aren’t worried. You’re calm. You’re cool. You’re collected. You understand people get busy. They are probably just volunteering at the soup kitchen- they are always so giving.
Night of Day One: It’s been a whole day and nothing. Your cool exterior is cracking a little, and you are pretty sure your phone is broken and isn’t getting texts. However, your mom’s text has come through. You turn your phone on loud before bed. Just in case.
Day Two: The next 24 hours are the most excruciating. Do you break the silence? What if they were waiting to see if you cared enough to text? That must be it. But…what if it isn’t. What if you text them again and don’t get a reply? That would be pathetic. You’ll wait it out. You’ll continue to look at your phone out of the corner of your eye.
Day Three: Today is the same as Day Two, but you have now made a mental list of all the things you did wrong, all the reasons they could maybe still text you, and you have eaten or drank at least one thing you wish you hadn’t.
Day 4 and on: After a week, you know. You know that they know that you know. You still have a little bit of hope during the weekend that they may still make last minute plans with you. That hope dies on Sunday afternoon.
You Don’t Know What Happened, So You Can’t Fix It
No one likes talking about things, I get that. I would much rather just moonwalk away awkwardly from a situation than having to explain myself for any reason.
However, with that silence you are essentially leaving them to lay out all of their personal insecurities on a table and pick which one it was that drove you away. Maybe they thought you hated their large collection of 80s cartoon movies, and so they donate them all. And maybe you actually LOVED their movie collection but guess what- they don’t know that because you never told them that wasn’t the reason. So now all of their movies are gone because of you. Harsh.
Never Wanting to Trust Again
Okay, this point seems a little dramatic, but think about it. You are hanging out with someone for a few weeks or even a few months. You don’t remember how long it has been since you’ve liked or were interested in someone like this, and you’re having a good time. This person is slowly becoming part of your daily life, and you are enjoying it. Everything is fine and dandy.
Then they never talk to you again.
Suddenly, it seems like no one has to be accountable for their actions. Maybe you overthought everything and turned this situation into something it wasn’t. So you don’t really want this to happen again. You start assuming anyone who shows interest is going to stop being interested soon enough, so what’s the point. You have permanently lowered your expectations for people. Bummer.
It’s…Kind Of Understandable Behavior
Why yes, I just listed everything horribly wrong about ghosting and now am saying it makes sense. Hear me out:
When you are talking to and going out with someone new, unless someone brings up that you both are dating- the topic gets brushed under the rug. So, if no one brings up you are dating, you feel like you technically aren’t.
So when you feel as though the “whatever it was” has run its course- what do you do? Break up with someone you weren’t exclusive with?
Yes, if you want to feel like a decent person, you should let someone know what’s going on in your head if you feel like they really felt something for you. BUT as a former Ghost myself, sometimes it is easier to say nothing at all than to intentionally hurt someone with a vague reason and empty apology.
So, there you go. Ghosting sucks, no matter what side you are on, and we should all have the guts to tell someone what’s up.
But let’s be honest- that’s probably never going to happen.