‘and I just never heard from them again..’
Ghosting is when someone disappears from your life without any reason or explanation and ignored all attempts of contact. Usually, it happens out the blue and the levels of ghosting can vary from just never get a text back, to being deleted and blocked. It’s an immature way of saying ‘Im just not that into you.’ Yet by doing this, you are also saying ‘I also don’t have much respect for your or this relationship.’
And apparently, somehow ghosting has become a popular way to end a relationship in the wonderful world of modern dating.
Let’s just be clear, I’m not talking about going on a one Tinder date and then never texting the girl who got too drunk and started talking about having your babies. I am talking about people who are in grown-up relationships and for some reason just feel the need to break all lines of communication without any explanation.
Apparently, it’s pretty easy for some people to just cut ties with someone they once cared about. Charlize Theron famously ghosted on Sean Penn (which she now denies). So why do people ghost at all? According to multiple studies, the primary psychological reasons that people ghost on others is avoidance and fear of conflict. (DUH!)
Basically, they are afraid of having the dreaded ‘I don’t think this is going work out’ talk that we all want to avoid so much. Whether they’re avoiding confrontation or just avoiding hurting someone else feelings, it is a selfish way to act after three dates or three months.
OR they don’t want to formally break up with you because they do want you, just not right this second. Just like that, you became a safety. By just going radio silent on you, technically you two never broke up. So whenever they do miss you or are just bored enough they come back running back to you, guilt-free.
Ghosting may seem like the easy way out however it actually takes a huge emotional toll on BOTH parties including the ghoster (otherwise known as the asshole). Like most matters of the heart, we always want to know why.
Whether you think so or not, ghosting is actually a form of emotional abuse. By refusing to acknowledge someone you shared a connection with (no matter how deep or new that connection was) your actions are telling this person that they aren’t even worthy of an explanation, and that your relationship wasn’t significant enough to have a ‘proper ending’. Remember, words are what you want to be and actions are who you are.
Studies have shown that children would prefer to have their parents yell at them than ignore them. So being ignored is something we began to fear from a young age. Because it’s a fucking awful feeling, and when you add in emotions and all the memories, it turns into a big mess.
If you were ghosted on, immediately your mind goes into panic mode. You remember every stupid thing you said and did while you guys were together, and start to pick yourself apart. The anxiety builds as your mind as you try to understand why this just happened — or worse, what you did to cause it to happen. You question everything. The feeling of rejection is at its peak due to the lack of clarity, and the self-doubt will kick itself into high gear. Being rejected triggers the same pain pathways in your brain as physical pain (scientists actually say that you can take a Tylenol for your emotional pain and feel some relief.)
But Tylenol will only help with the pain of feeling rejected for so long and your brain will skip to the next fun part of this horrible game which is self-blame. We begin to blame our selves because we are the only person who we can control in this situation. We are only responsible for our own actions. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and the worst thing of all — obsession. Obsession in the age of the internet is the WORST because there is always something new to look at, and even more to find out (or assume). You become obsessed with finding the answers you never received, and this part always hurts. Social media is a horrible representation of how people are actually doing on a day to day basis and if you go into stalker mode trying to find an answer you most likely will not like what you find.
The ghoster (aka. asshole) has consequences of their own to face. First of all, karma. Secondly more times then not you will actually begin to feel regret for your actions (unless you are completely heartless – I know a few of those). Even more so if you miss this person. The major damage done will be on your own relationships in the future. People who have a habit of ghosting also have a habit of getting to relationships they aren’t happy in because they are afraid to say what they want or how they really feel.
Or worse, let’s say they chose to ghost on someone who doesn’t handle rejection well, and they end up confronting them wherever they can find them (usually in public). Is living over your shoulder for a few weeks really worth not having ONE hard grown up conversation. Not to mention this person will never forget the way you made them feel. There had to be a reason why you two connected in the first place, so do you really want be remembered as the asshole who couldn’t even have a conversation or return a text message?
At the end of the day, ghosting says more about you than the person you are choosing to not to acknowledge. You are someone who is unreliable, irresponsible (yes, not taking responsibility for your actions qualifies as being irresponsible), inconsiderate, and of questionable integrity.
“Even if the other party passively accepts the avoidance action, the terminator faces the lingering cost of knowing that he or she took the coward’s way out of the relationship.”
And just for the record, while researching for this article multiple relationship therapists said that 5 minutes is the longest you should wait for a text back from someone you are interested in.
The new five-minute rule.
Stats by Elle.com