Vanishing act! 7 things you should know about 'ghosting' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
There are few words that bring up facial grimaces and bad feelings like the word "ghosted."
Ghosting is ending a relationship abruptly with a friend or lover by just vanishing. No explanation.
This could be a new relationship -- just a few dates in, or a long-standing friendship or romantic relationship. It's something that has happened since the beginning of time, but the term has gained traction in the American lexicon over the past several years -- mainly because of online dating and its predominance in our society.
Here, we address seven concerns related to the act of ghosting so that you can avoid becoming a victim.
1. Why do people ghost?
Because it's easier for them than handling the emotions and conflict of a tough conversation or breakup.
Sometimes people who ghost think it's the kinder thing to do -- until it's done to them.
But it's usually meant to avoid a potentially painful situation.
2. Why is it so painful?
It's the ultimate use of the silent treatment.
Not only do you have to remain silent when you're ghosted (because you've most likely been blocked on phone, text and social media) but you have no opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity.
3. Do people ghost more now than before?
Ghosting is nothing new, but it's more common now because we don't feel like we have a lot to lose if we are only connected to someone digitally.
In the past, we would want to make sure we didn't burn bridges because of common friends, family members, etc.
4. Are there signs to watch out for telling me that I'll be ghosted?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some red flags that you're with a ghoster could be:
- If this person has told you that they've ghosted others.
- If they have a track record of ending relationships badly.
- If their behavior with you is flaky and inconsistent.
- If they haven't been as responsive to you as they used to be, and communication is slower/less frequent (either digitally and/or in real life).
5. Sometimes there is zero warning about the impending ghosting.
I've heard the craziest stories of best friends ghosting each other after eight years of constant friendship -- with not so much as an argument.
When a person just vanishes, we are left feeling punched in the face. We worry first whether they're laying in a hospital bed unable to communicate and later, we worry what we might have done to wreck the relationship.
Ghosting or social rejection activates the same brain pathways as pain -- and it hurts.
It can also make you feel dumb and thinking such things as, "How could I not see this coming? How did I think we were so much closer than we were?"
It also leaves you hanging -- was it something you did, something you said, you have no cues or clues as to what happened -- and it can be damaging to our self-esteem.
6. Is it ever OK to ghost?
Yes, if any of the following are true:
- If you are afraid of the person's reaction.
- If they've been abusive or violent, and you need to cut off contact.
- If they can not respect boundaries that you've drawn.
7. If you've been ghosted, the best thing to do is to know the following:
- Being ghosted says nothing about your worthiness or ability to be a good partner or friend.
- The ghoster didn't have the courage to deal with conflict and discomfort.
- The ghoster wasn't capable of being in a healthy, adult relationship.
- Don't shut down to all relationships because someone left. Keep your heart available and open to good people, and don't let the ghost spook you out of love or friendship.
Smart Dating Academy ran a survey on social media last week, and 92% of respondents had been ghosted, and almost 66% had ghosted someone (friend or romantic partner).
Most of us will ghost someone or be ghosted, and as painful as it is may be, know that it happens to everyone, and do the work to get yourself back to a positive, self-confident place again.
Bela Gandhi is the founder and president of the Smart Dating Academy, a coaching agency that helps clients "make dating fun, inspiring and focused" in their pursuit of a meaningful relationship. You can follow her and Smart Dating Academy on Instagram.