Have you been ghosting or ghosted by someone? Let's decode the ghosting culture.
“Hey! It was nice meeting you. I enjoyed going out with you. Maybe we could go out again??Hello????? Are you there???? Hi?? Are you okay??? I tried calling you. Hello???......”
Am sure we all know what just happened. This person probably got blocked at worst, or simply cut off at best. This is modern-day ghosting and stashing culture. We might have, at some point, been at the receiving end of it or dished it out ourselves. Be it dating or friendships.
Ghosting and leaving people on reads has become socially acceptable because, let’s face it, it’s easy.
We live in a world where information is moving fast and we attempt to keep up with everything. We also have access to our relationships 24/7 in a way we didn’t before, so it makes sense that we might reach overwhelm quicker.
We choose relationships with the swipe of a screen and who we were interested in yesterday might not be who we are interested in today.It makes sense that with information overload we find ways to shut down and self-preserve faster.
In some events, ghosting someone or leaving people on reads might even be seen as a boundary. Something we do to take care of ourselves.
But how healthy are these dynamics for our relationships long term?
Not only are we being the recipients of these, but also doing them ourselves.
What does this do to our ability to relate to others? How does this affect our self-esteem and perception of ourselves? How does this impact our ability to communicate? What is the impact of avoiding topics altogether instead of communicating our discomfort?
We are relational beings and in hindsight, we are chipping away at something that lies at the core of the human experience, our ability to connect to others deeply and authentically.
Relationships are so important to our well-being, that we often end up feeling more depressed when we feel disconnected from others and more shame/guilt when we feel we might have upset others or let them down.
Is it possible to get desensitized enough for things to not matter socially in the future?
I don’t think so. As long as we feel, no matter how disconnected we are from our emotions, we are sensitive to this. Yes, our reactions will vary, depending on the extent of our apathy, but it would affect us nonetheless.
So let’s first break down some basic things about ghosting culture.
What is ghosting?
When someone suddenly ceases all forms of connection with you, not responding to text messages and phone calls, without any explanation, especially in dating scenarios and friendships, the phenomenon is Ghosting.
Why do people resort to ghosting?
• Sometimes we might have inflicted emotional, physical, or psychological pain, triggering them to run away.
• They might be jealous of you or your achievements. Your success might have reminded them of their failures.
• Some people are escapists. They want to avoid conflict at all costs.
• They are no longer interested in you.
• They thought you are needy
• They don’t feel safe communicating with you.
• And sadly, some people use it as a manipulation tactic, to punish you, to make you chase them, or to make you do their bidding.
• They have a serious lack of accountability.
There are many psychological reasons as to why someone ghosts, but at its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict, wanting to avoid difficult conversations or simply to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Some people also use ghosting to intentionally hurt or manipulate the other person.
There are, of course, exceptions to this, and sometimes people resort to ghosting when it's necessary to protect themselves or when the other person isn't taking "no" for an answer.
If you've ever been ghosted then you know how much it can hurt.
But why does ghosting hurt so much?
• It triggers our abandonment wounds. It’s like our fear being realized at that moment.
• It makes us feel that we’re not good enough.
• It can trigger memories of emotional neglect.
• It leaves us with a lack of closure.
• It creates self-doubt. We start feeling as if something is wrong with us.
• It makes us feel as if we’re not worthy of love.
How to cope with the feeling of being ghosted and the subsequent hurt it causes?
I feel that we often get hurt more because of our internal dialogue than the actual incident. It’s like Pandora’s box full of suffering. The more we overthink, the more things we find that further hurt us and the cycle continues.
The most effective way is to become aware of our internal dialogues and the various ways in which it trigger us. Then we work on changing that perpetual pattern of overthinking.
• Instead of saying “It’s my fault I was ghosted,” say that “It’s not my fault they didn’t say goodbye.”
• Instead of saying “I'll never feel better," try saying “I'll take care of myself one day at a time."
•Instead of asking “What’s wrong with me?” ask yourself “What did I learn from this?”
Your feelings matter. Your thoughts matter. But sometimes we have to understand that our thoughts are not always the reality. We have to realize that negative self-talk will not help us heal and move on. So whenever you come across an intrusive thought, take a deep breath and change your perspective. Change the meaning you give to that thought.
Change the narrative. And most importantly, change your self-concept. Seriously, introspect how you see yourself, who you are, and who you want to be. The kind of person you are. Whether you value yourself?
Whether you genuinely love yourself?
Is that love unconditional?
If anything in your current reality doesn’t align with who you want to be, change the narrative. And persist. It will take practice, but it will be the biggest act of self-love.
I have no major insights other than developing an awareness and an invitation to try to reclaim our emotional tenderness while we continue to navigate our relationships, not only the romantic but in fact, all of them, be it friendships or familial. You are the creator of your reality, of your thoughts. You have the power to change your story, your narrative.
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