There are two times in particular, I remember crumbling in bed. My ego shattered as quickly as the last wine glass I put in my dishwasher. Two guys had chosen to vanish out of my life, even when I’d welcomed them in. Without warning, they cut communication and left me confused. I couldn’t help but ask myself: What does it mean when someone ghosts you?
It’s a question that plagued me as I began dating again post-ghostup
breakup. For those unaware (people who haven’t tried online dating), ghosting is when you’re dating someone who then cuts contact without warning. It can happen at any stage in a relationship, from arranging a first date to even walking out of a marriage. On some level, all of us are guilty.
We engage in short-term ghosting by avoiding on purpose; we let friendships drift by not reaching out. I’ve ghosted a café – the owner told me to stop by again and I convincingly agreed. I have also ghosted dates. Perhaps karma has given me my own medicine.
How to accept being ghosted
When it first happened to me, I was in my early twenties. Me and a friend when out to party in London, where we met a good-looking guy who introduced us to his mates. After downing some shots and sharing a drunk kiss, we exchanged numbers. Over the next few days, we texted throughout work and arranged to meet again. On the day before our agreed date however, his WhatsApp picture disappeared. My texts went unanswered – it was like he had hadn’t existed beyond some deep dream.
The second time (or the second ghoster), hurt more because we’d been dating. Everyone knew about him – I’d described his best traits to family. The day he went, my first thought was: What do I tell people? I know that sounds bad – you’d expect me to miss him and cry about my feelings. But my ego felt the most pain. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, insecure, rejected.
When someone ghosts you, it’s them taking action. YOU’RE wrong, YOU did something, YOU’RE the one being left. Regardless of how imperfect your date/partner may have been, the fault seems to lie with the person who wants to stay. We can easily use ghosting as an excuse to beat ourselves up. But the truth is, while a ghosted individual may have acted needy, selfish, desperate etc., they cannot put themselves at fault for someone’s cowardly behaviour.
To accept being ghosted:
- Delete their name and number. Once you’re sure they’ve gone, you don’t need a reminder. Avoid the habit to keep checking for them to message by removing their details.
- Stop Google searching – yes, put down your phone as soon as you’ve read this post. Don’t research if ghosters come back.
- Separate your personal issues from theirs. If you feel you’re too open or insecure, work on that internally. Do not link anyone to how you feel about yourself.
- Switch the blame from, ‘Why did they ghost me?’ to ‘why do they ghost?’ As a Bustle piece says, ‘Do not blame yourself’.
- Let yourself grieve the breakup. Your feelings are still valid and real.
When someone ghosts, what does it mean about them?
There are many reasons why people choose to cut communication without explanation. Some include:
- They’re cowards (plain and simple).
- They have a strong belief in destiny. A New York Times article features Dr. Vilhauer, who described how some people perceive relationships on black-and-white terms: they either work out or they don’t. If a person thinks an individual isn’t part of their destiny, they may be more likely to ghost and avoid effort.
- They have issues dealing with emotions. A GQ piece on why men ghost women, shares input from therapist Gordon Wax, who says some people put ‘on a pretend invisibility cloak’ which makes them think ‘they won’t suffer emotions of guilt after parting ways.’
- They may be emotionally abusive. Women’s Health reported on ‘ghostlighting’; a manipulation technique which sees a ghoster go from incredibly romantic to barely around in a short span of time. When you ask about their disappearance, they make you feel as though you’re somehow imagining it.
- They like to avoid conflict.
- They have been hurt before. Some people are more cautious and may see any potential breakup signs as a que to make a swift exit.
What it means when someone ghosts you
To answer this, I’ll explain why ghosting happened to me – well, at least why I think. When the second guy ghosted, I spoke to my sister and expressed how irritated I felt at this guy not responding. I said, ‘I must be bad at dating’. Upon this line, she gave me a half quizzical, half humorous look and replied, ‘Laura, when have you ever gone out with someone actually looking for a relationship?’
Dumbfounded, I read out several names and with each one, my sister noted how they backed up her point. She then spoke about my ghoster, which led to us laughing. This guy couldn’t have been more incompatible and yet I carried along, expecting miracle chemistry to form. Of course, we weren’t going to be a couple – he wanted to play rugby, drink beer and ride his bike – we had zero in common other than the bar where we met. He didn’t want a relationship – that was clear a few years later when he reappeared casually.
Too often, I get comments on this blog from people ignoring multiple signs showing someone isn’t right for them. They say how they’re charming, funny, friendly, almost ideal, except they feel bored or they have no attraction.
While I can’t say exactly why an ex or date disappeared, I can argue that when someone ghosts you, it shows they’re unsuitable. So, to try avoid being ghosted, reflect on the people who you’re attracted to.
- Do they want what you want?
- Are you ignoring red flags?
- Do you make excuses for them?
- Have they shown signs of emotional immaturity?
Ghosting; it’s horrible break-up method and one I wouldn’t use again, nor would I take back someone who had used it on me. What I have learnt though, through being ghosted, is how to solely challenge my own insecurities and better decide what I want in a partner.
How do you react when someone ghosts? If it’s happened to you recently, be sure to read these posts:
Summer of Love: How to Feel Comfortable Dating Again