How to handle being ghosted in a relationship

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OK, so you’ve recently met someone and you’re head-over-heels with. In your view, everything is just hunky dory and you can’t stop thinking about him. Suddenly, without any warning, he disappears and cuts all communication lines with you.

No calls, no text messages, you’re blocked on social media, and no responses to any of your attempts to reach out. He has simply vanished without bothering to explain or even affording you the respect, decency or courtesy of a conversation. Well, you’ve been ghosted.

Ghosting is not a new phenomenon. But it's becoming a more prevalent break-up strategy now that people are relying heavily on technology to form and maintain relationships. Relationships are coming to an abrupt halt when people virtually disappear. They're just gone. There's no end-of-relationship conversation, no “Sorry, it's not working out,” and no “It's not you, it's me.” Just silence. Ambiguous, confusing silence!

Now, why would someone who you thought was a reasonable person choose to simply disappear from your life rather than plan, at the very least, a conversation to end the relationship?

What it means

Ghosting is a relatively new colloquial dating term that refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. Even when the person being ghosted reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they're met with silence.

For the ghoster, simply walking away from a relationship, or even a potential relationship, is a quick and easy way out. No drama, no hysterics, no questions asked, no need for accountability or justification of their behaviour, and no need to deal with someone else’s feelings.

For the ghostee, there is no closure. And you are often left with deep feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. Initially, you wonder, “what’s going on?” And when you realise the other person has ended the relationship, you’re left wondering, Why? What went wrong? What’s wrong with me? Anything happened to them? Why didn’t I see this coming?

It confuses you because they had given you the impression that they will be around for a while. They gave you the hope that you are wanted and good enough, and are someone with whom quality time could be spent.

And while the ghoster may have moved on with his life, the ghostee is left unable to connect with someone new as their days are spent trying to figure out what was wrong with them that they’re left without notice. They are constantly checking the conversations between the two of you for clues of what they did or said, or didn’t do or say.

The silent treatment — without explanation — is a form of emotional cruelty because it’s left them powerless to the situation because they are unable to find out any answers. It will always leave them hanging.

Why do people do it?

Generally because they are human, and nowadays relationships — especially among youth — are characterised by impatience and inability to extend themselves for the betterment of the relationship. Also we are generally a selfish, “me-first” generation that seeks to microwave love, are in constant pursuit of happiness from outside sources, and are implicitly expecting perfection from everyone else but us.

Truth is we have a generation that cares less about the discipline of time and sacrifice, yet embrace a fantasy of a “forever after”. They want trust without the patience of building; faithfulness without the investment of integrity; and love without the discipline of commitment.

They want the benefit of intimacy with another person; cuddles and date nights, and someone to “cure” them from their loneliness but are lazy and frankly, too selfish to be man or woman enough to reciprocate. And when the butterflies are gone, the stories are stale, and when they discover stuff that they don’t like about the other person, they’re onto the next one.

Shamefully, social media — with all the Dating Apps — has made ghosting justifiable. You can swipe right when you want and ghost out when you want, with no explanation given. No second chance or “I like you, but” conversations. Just coldly — sometimes skilfully slowly — stop showing interest until the person gets the message.

While the ghoster may benefit from avoiding an uncomfortable situation and any potential drama, they’ve done nothing to improve their own conversation and relationships skills for the future.

Actually, ghosting tells more about the ghoster than the ghostee. Ghosting is both cowardly and immature. It makes you unreliable and shows your lack of respect for another person's feelings. It says you are inconsiderate and don't care much about the impact or consequences of your actions. It's easier than breaking up but it also shows you have no character when you choose easy over integrity. It's a demonstration of your conflict avoidance, and inability to have tough conversations.

Even with “good” reason, you still come out looking worse than the ghostee. And by the way, you hurt their feelings more by ghosting them, than choosing to confront the issue with them. So, the fact that you don’t want to “hurt” their feelings by facing them, you hurt their feelings more by ghosting them.

Stop that. Be decent enough to afford the person some respect and dignity by actually freeing them on why you ghosted them. Give them a chance to get closure, so they can also move on. Instead of your cowardice and opting for the easy way out, have the respectful but tough conversation, and leave it to them how they handle it.

Are you ghosted?

Being ghosted does not define you. The label belongs to the person that ghosted you. It’s not yours. Them ghosting you says nothing about your worthiness, and more about their cowardice, immaturity, disrespect and lack of integrity. You are still enough and worthy of being pursued.

Don’t numb the pain with any substance. Fixes are temporary. You may find yourself having to confront them later at a more inconvenient time, such as in your next relationship.

Stop pursuing them. Take your power back, and control your life again. Displaying stalker tendencies even in obvious cases of someone that’s simply avoiding you, makes you look bad and takes the attention away from their disgusting behaviour. Heal independently of them and never look back.

Spend time with friends and family. Seek the companionship of people whom you trust and with whom you share mutual feelings of love, respect and values. Experiencing positive, healthy relationships can put your ghosting situation into perspective.



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