Ghosting (and Haunting) in the Dating World

I’m about to give you some tough love, so brace yourself.

It’s not about being too busy, it’s about not caring.

If you’re putting yourself out there in the dating world, then chances are, you’ve been ghosted before.

Since the rise of dating apps and social media, dropping in and out of someone's life has become so much easier. Hence the popularity of this weirdly accepted phenomenon, Ghosting.

For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing ghosting yet, it’s basically this: having someone you believe cares for you disappear from your life without explanation. No phone call, no email - not even a text.

Brutal I know.

Nothing new

You know, ghosting isn’t a new thing - it’s something people have always done. It’s the modern version of going to the shop for some milk or bread and never coming back, just less extreme.

Years ago we would have considered this behaviour to only be that of a select few. However, in today's dating culture a whopping 50% of all men and women have experienced it with just as many having done the actual ghosting themselves. An Elle.com survey found that 26% of women and 33% of men have both ghosted and been ghosted, while only 24% of women and 17% of men admit to doing the ghosting.

Just remember that whatever thoughts you have about yourself, this is a ‘them’ problem, not a ‘you’ problem.

Despite it being so common, it does have some devastating emotional effects and can greatly damage those that already have issues with their self-esteem.

To summarize: ghosting is bad.

So, what is ghosting?

Ghosting is basically rejection, just without the closure. And it is  possibly one of the most annoying things to deal with when looking for a relationship.

It’s like I’ve said, when someone stops answering your texts or calls and drops off the face of the earth without any explanation. This normally happens out of nowhere and can leave you feeling hurt, confused, paranoid and a little self-conscious.

If I could use one word to sum up what the act of ghosting represents it would - cowardice.

Woman with blue sky behind her with red nail polish, blocking her eyes with her hands

This manner of ending things is ambiguous and left for our ever wondering minds to interpret.  Ghosting is a way for people to leave the door open for a potential rekindling later on down the line - although in my opinion you’d be mad to say yes to that.

At the end of the day it's a way to end a connection with someone without actually having to answer questions about how you really feel. You don’t have to face the emotions or have the  maturity that comes with breaking things off like an adult.

Again, it’s a coward’s game.

Why do we ghost?

I’m not going to sit here and pretend  like I haven’t ghosted someone in the past - because I have. It took me a couple of years to realize my mistake in the way I handled it and eventually I made amends and did everything I could to apologize for my behaviour.

But the thought of why do we do it is still in the back of my mind.

I think we ghost people for a simple reason: it’s a lot easier than straight up telling someone that you don’t feel the same anymore. That for some reason it isn’t working on your end and that you’d like to let it go - so you get out of a sexual or romantic situation without going through any of the discomfort that would normally come with it.

It sounds great doesn’t it?

The way you treat and get treated whilst in the dating phase is a little window into how they’ll be in a relationship.

The problem is, it’s the ultimate selfish move. The other person isn’t considered at all. Their feelings are not taken into account in the slightest.

If you’re the one being ghosted then I’d say it doesn’t sound that great after all.

You’re left hanging in the dark without any reassurance about what’s just happened. You’re just shoved aside with a lot of feelings that go unaccounted for, without any way of getting closure or a release from the scenario.

Are you being ghosted? Here are the signs.

If you’ve been seeing someone and they seem into you, you go on dates, have ex a few times or even date for a while, it’s even harder to accept them disappearing out of your life. Becoming a ghost, a memory, a bad feeling going forward.

So you think “hey - maybe they’re just super busy!”. WRONG.

There are very few times I’d ever buy that ‘too busy’ excuse. Most of the time it’s a bulls*&t reason to them wanting to ghost. At the end of the day, if someone wants to make time for you, they will find a way.

We are all busy souls, but when we find someone we like (I mean really like) we usually shift around other things going on in our lives just to make time for them. At the absolute minimum we can see and respond back to messages.

It’s my biggest pet peeve - messaging someone and they don’t respond for days on end.

Woman sitting on bench on her phone in an outdoor yard with ferns around her and stone wall behind her

Are you telling me that in 4 days you didn’t once use or look at your phone? No, I didn’t think so.

It especially adds insult in this day an age where everyone is constantly glued to their devices for some reason or other. Making it hard to believe that if someone actually likes you, they can’t find the time to reply when you reach out.

My take away -  you’re worth so much more than all that, so don’t accept it. Just don’t!

If you find you’re putting yourself out there with someone and that person can’t even find the time to message you back, then they most likely aren’t worth your time. The world’s too clued up and you’re too god damn awesome to play these types of games.

Listen, if this person is into you, then they’ll make it happen, no matter what. It’s the bare minimum amount of effort to expect when dating. Think about it, do you really want to date someone who’s too busy to text back? What sort of message is that showing. The way you treat and get treated whilst in the dating phase is a little window into how they’ll be in a relationship.

Are you willing to be with someone who places you low on their priority list? I’m sure you’re not!

Chances are, if it looks, sounds and acts like a ghost - it is one.

How to handle a ghosting

Being ghosted at any point of dating someone is always a hard thing to face. It’s a huge throw off that can leave you a little shaken up and uneasy. It’s not nice going through realizing that someone you actually cared about cared so little about you - so much so that they couldn’t even give you the respect you need.

They couldn’t finish what they started!

I’m here to tell you, don't worry - it’ll all be okay. We all have these feelings after a ghosting. We all want to distance ourselves from others, want to sit and cry under the bed sheets closing off to the world around us.

That’s normal.

You feel robbed of closure and of the explanation as to why this has happened. You might even have hope that one will appear given time, but sadly, you probably won’t get it from the person who wronged you.

This is where you have to pull yourself together and accept what’s happened. The sooner you do, the better off you’ll be.

Woman doing a cartwheel in the street

Just think of it as a lucky break from whatever coward did the ghosting.

Chances are they don’t even have the answers themselves. That they can’t communicate their feelings properly so choose not to try. To this I say, move on. Leave them to it.

Just remember that whatever thoughts you have about yourself, this is a ‘them’ problem, not a ‘you’ problem.

Read that again. And again.

You might have caused issues in your situation that the other person couldn’t handle or you might have done things and acted in a way that they didn’t like. But again remember, ghosting is about them, not you.

There’s no reason to ghost someone. There’s no reason not to be honest with how you feel. If they didn’t want to be with you because of something you’ve done they could and should straight up just tell you. It doesn’t give them the excuse to run off into the shadows and leave you there guessing, wondering and overthinking.

With that being said, don’t even think about sending them a long text or hysterical voicemail demanding an answer for their behaviour.

I’m telling you, it might feel good in the moment, but eventually you’ll still be left without an explanation and the added feeling of regret as you made yourself look insecure and needy. Which they don’t deserve.

Just assume that nothing went wrong with the relationship and that it’s simply down to not being right for each other. You aren’t the person for them, and they definitely aren’t that person for you.

They have returned, what do you do?

I suppose the term for this could still be called haunting. Where a ghost sometimes returns and tries to insert themselves back into your life out of nowhere.

It is possible that they might have had an emergency they had to take care of. Or a huge personal issue they had to deal with causing them to drop off - although like I’ve already said, a message or phone call literally takes minutes to make.

In this situation it’s completely up to you on how you want to address it.

Again, this is up to you. Not them, but you.

Be completely honest with them about your feelings. If you felt hurt or upset then go ahead and say so. If they have returned then they owe you some sort of explanation as to why they did what they did especially if they expect to come back into your life.

Whatever you do, do not bundle up and suppress those feelings inside. Do not pretend that everything’s okay if it’s not. If you do it gives this ghoster the go ahead to do the same move again at some point later down the road - which we want to avoid at all costs.

If you are thinking about accepting this ghost back into your life, then good for you. Just make sure they have offered you a reasonable explanation for their disappearance, and whatever the reason, stay cautious.

Man and woman staring at one another lovingly amidst flowers and greenery

Everything should not be sunshine and rainbows straight away. Pay close attention to how they act, get to know what’s happened in their lives around the time they came back to you. It could be that they’re bored, back for a vacation, looking for something they know could be secure or even back after a failed attempt of chasing someone else.

All things you don’t need in a partner.

Oh and if they ghost you again, you better ditch them. I mean it!  

If you don’t then whatever heartbreak comes after they reappear yet again, it’s on you. It’s not worth your time or feelings to be involved with someone that has no respect for you.

Period.

They have sent you a loud and clear message that says they are unable to provide you with the healthy and mature relationship you’re looking for. Be the better person in this, regain your dignity and let that person go peacefully.

Don’t allow their bad behaviour to rob you of a better future, one where you shut yourself off from other relationships in order to keep your feelings from getting hurt.

Live with the knowledge that if you are a person who treats others with respect and integrity then this ghost just wasn’t for you - that someone a lot better is just around the corner waiting to be found.

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