“If someone ghosts you, respect the dead and never disturb them again”. This quote made me chuckle and sums it all up. But as cute as it sounds, “ghosting” isn’t a very nice thing to experience. Until a few months back, I wasn’t even aware of the term. Ghosting is the act of cutting off all contact abruptly, without any explanation — and this isn’t a new thing. It is, however, getting progressively more common in recent times, due to our growing digital connections. The more we connect virtually, the less we create personal and social connections, and the easier it becomes to pull a disappearing act on someone. Also, though the consequences are fewer in the case of online relationships, the effects (on those getting ghosted) are just as harsh. Sadly, in a world of 24/7 digital access, we can forget that these are real people on the other end of the screen.
I recently posted the above quote on ghosting on my Instagram handle, and was alarmed at the number of people who wrote in, sharing their dreadful experiences. Getting ghosted in any relationship, personal or professional, social or intimate, can never feel good. Firstly, it is highly rude and disrespectful. And secondly, we’re left with a feeling of rejection.
There are two main reasons why people ghost others. Fear of engaging: Especially if the interaction with you could lead to pain or conflict for that person, they use ghosting as an avoidance strategy. The person typically wants a ‘no drama’, ‘no questions asked’, ‘no justification or explanation’ kind of exit from you. So he/she simply pulls off the disappearing act.
Using it as a passive aggressive power move: You may have heard of the silent treatment or stone walling; here, ghosting is used as a control tactic and a form of emotional withdrawal in close relationships.
Please note that there is a big difference between ghosting due to avoidance of conflict, and ghosting as a way to end a toxic relationship — that is not called ‘ghosting’ anyway. It is standing up for yourself and takes heaps of courage. There could be several reasons why ghosting may have happened to you. Though it may hurt you, chances are that the other person simply lacked the skills to be up front, whatever the degree of ghosting may be.
“If you’ve been ghosted, it is more than likely not about you,” says Dr. Lori Lawrenz, licensed clinical psychologist. “Ghosting people is a coping mechanism”, she explains. “It’s often done as a psychological tool to protect the one who is ghosting. Often, it’s a shortcut to avoid difficult relational dynamics.”
Here’s what you can do to handle a ghosting situation:
Don’t go hunting for answers:
If you’ve given a fair shot to get in touch with this person, but to no avail, it’s time to stop. It can be so tempting to go into a spiral of ‘what did I do wrong’, but the truth is that you’ll never know the answer.
Rid yourself of blame and shame
People have been ghosted in close relationships and even with acquaintances. While any kind of ghosting feels incredibly personal, it may not be about you at all. It is about them and their choices. Ghosting also carries an echo of rejection, and because you usually can’t find a reason, or logical explanation, it’s easy to go down the road of self-blame and shame. But remember that it isn’t your fault.
The most important key to recovery is self-love. Nurture your self. Join an art class or spend time with people you care about, journal every morning, rediscover yourself, reframe your thoughts.
Studies show that focusing on ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ increases oxytocin, our feel-good hormone, which increases feelings of connection. Consciously realign with what drives you. Put yourself first on your daily to-do list and the rest will fall into place.
Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand
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