In the modern world of dating, there are so many–too many–phrases to keep up with. But one that you should definitely understand is “ghosting.” What is being ghosted, and how do you deal with it if it happens to you? We’re here to talk about all things ghosting, and give you some tried-and-true tips for how to handle being ghosted.
What is being ghosted?
Let’s say that you’ve been chatting with someone over text message for a few days or maybe a few weeks. You feel that you’ve been connecting and getting to know each other. When you ask to meet up in person, they don’t give you a direct answer. The next time you ask, they straight up don’t reply. Then, you don’t hear from them again.
That’s what we call “being ghosted.” It takes on different forms in different situations (like in a casual vs. serious relationship), but the gist is always the same: the person stops communicating.
Why do people ghost?
Besides being rejected, one of the most frustrating things about being ghosted is the fact that you don’t know why. Learning why means that the person is communicating with you again–but then, they wouldn’t be ghosting you. As you can see, communication is everything, and that person isn’t willing to do it. That’s one of the first reasons why people ghost. Here’s the complete list:
- They’re not good at communicating. Maybe they never learned appropriate and healthy forms of communication. They could be dealing with several emotions and might not know how to express them.
- They fear confrontation. Oftentimes we talk about people who are “nonconfrontational” as a way to describe their avoidance of talking about issues. While being nonconfrontational isn’t always necessarily negative, in the case of a ghoster, it is. They might be afraid of how you’ll respond to a spoken/written rejection and think that not responding is the best way to avoid it.
- They think it’s normal. These days, we hear about people being ghosted quite often due in a large part to the digital age in which we live. The more that someone hears about ghosting, the more they might be likely to do it themselves, thinking that it’s an acceptable form of letting the other person know that they’re not interested.
How do you respond to being ghosted?
When you’re ghosted, your first reaction may be to unleash your thoughts and feelings and let the person know that they’re in the wrong. But inciting anger isn’t the way to do it. Getting ghosted is hurtful, frustrating–even agonizing–but don’t let these feelings bubble up into your response.
Here are a few ways to respond to being ghosted:
- Hey, [name]. I hope everything is okay. I’ve been trying to reach out but haven’t heard anything back. If you’re no longer interested, just let me know. Thanks.
- Hey, [name]. I’ve noticed that you haven’t been responding lately, and I take it that you’d like to move on. I really enjoyed getting to know you and wish we could have continued, but I wish you all the best.
- Hi, [name]. Just checking in because it’s been awhile. Judging by your silence, I assume that you’re no longer interested. I feel hurt that you wouldn’t just say so, but I respect your feelings.
The first option is a way to reach out when you realize that someone is ghosting you and give them the opportunity to respond. If they don’t, go with the last two options, which provide you with the opportunity to call out the fact that they’re ghosting you, briefly share how you feel, and close the possibility of future communication.
How to deal with being ghosted
Being ghosted is a form of rejection, so it’s never easy to handle. But learning how to deal with being ghosted can give you the confidence boost that you need if the situation ever happens to you.
- Face reality. Don’t get stuck in the “will they/won’t they” confusion. It’s not in your best interest to keep holding on to hope, especially if they have shown you that they won’t be reaching out. Face the reality that you’re getting ghosted, so that you can start to move on.
- Feel your feelings. Check in with yourself after you’ve faced the reality of being ghosted–just like a friend would do for you. Don’t push the negative feelings away. Instead, recognize, process, and learn from them. The one feeling you shouldn’t feel? Guilt. Being ghosted is in no way your fault, so don’t let yourself take the blame.
- Don’t contact them again. After you have responded to the person who ghosted you, end the communication there. Make sure to position your message as a goodbye–this will essentially let them off the hook and protect your future self from being strung along. If it’s helpful, you could also delete their number from your phone and stop following them on social media. Again, these can be healthy boundaries to set for your future self.
- Do something soothing. Prioritize your mental and emotional health by practicing self-care. Any form of rejection can be difficult to process, so it’s important to put yourself first as you learn how to recover from being ghosted. Book a massage, light some candles and have a long bath, watch the sunset, go for a run in your neighborhood–whatever helps your mind and body reset.
- Reach out to loved ones. Get the support you need by asking friends and family to listen–whether you need to vent, ask for advice, or just sit in the presence of others. Friends and family can be wonderful reminders that you are valued and worthy of love.
- Let it go and get back out there. When a dating or long-term relationship ends, it’s always helpful to have closure. But in the case of ghosting, you’ll probably never get an explanation. Learn to be ok with that reality, and let go of the situation. Then, you can start getting back out there or talking to potential dates again, understanding that you have great qualities and can offer so much to someone else.
Ghosting is never an appropriate way to end things, and when it happens, it can be challenging to deal with. Keep these tips in mind as you navigate through your dating journey, so that you know exactly what to do if you’re ever in this situation. And remember–being ghosted is not your fault. You can rise from this difficult situation as a more resilient human being.