Ghosting: The Dating Phenomenon That’s All Too Real
Lisa, 27, started dating Ben. Things happened pretty quickly, but they appeared to be on the same page. They’d even met each other’s friends and planned a day trip out of the city together. On a recent visit to his apartment, Ben told her that he had to run an errand and asked if she could stay there and wait. He’d be back soon. She waited for a few hours before leaving. Despite her texts and calls to make sure he was okay, she never heard from him again.
Brian, 32, had been dating Christine for a couple of months. They’d started off texting and emailing, just getting to know one another. Once they met, they soon started dating. Although they were not exclusive, it felt and seemed that way to Brian. He was smitten. After a weekend getaway, they said goodbye to one another at the train station. They texted each other when they got home and talked about the next time they were to get together. After that night, she disappeared from his life. Despite his attempts to communicate with her, he heard nothing in return. He was devastated.
Date long enough, and you, too, may encounter a ghoster: someone you’ve bonded with who suddenly disappears in a phantom-like way.
Experiences like Lisa and Brian’s are incredibly common. In fact, it’s one of the paradoxes of our fast-paced digital dating culture. As quickly as you can connect with someone, you can disconnect. And in a blink, your relationship can go from a promise to a poof. People who just up and disappear have one very important trait in common—they’re avoiders. They want to avoid confrontation, yes, but they also don’t want to deal with their own uncomfortable feelings. That emotional immaturity trumps the desire to do the right thing and just come clean about wanting to move on. Even the coldest of the cold ways of breaking up (hello, texting!) is beyond their capacity. But at least a two line text would bring clarity and closure.
After all, when you’re the one who’s ghosted, you’re flooded with feelings of rejection, anger, and confusion. At first, you may actually worry about the other person’s well-being. Is he safe? Did she get hurt? Eventually you see on Facebook that the person is alive and well. That’s when the self-doubt and blaming sets in. Did I imagine that things were going great? What did I do that could have turned him off? She did say she’d call me to make plans, right? You end up waiting to hear something, anything. You constantly check your phone for texts, calls, and emails after reaching out (because you can almost always tell if your text has been delivered and read).
It’s torture. But here’s the thing: YOU didn’t do anything wrong, and all this energy you’re expending? The ghoster deserves not one minute of it. If you have made a concerted effort to reach out and heard nothing in response, then just let it go. Don’t bother wondering if he/she is alright. They are. As you sit and worry, they are sleeping at night. And if you start to go down the rabbit hole, remember this: Their behavior speaks volumes about them and very little about you. Can you imagine the type of communication you would have had (or not) with this person moving forward? If someone cannot give you the common courtesy of being honest via a simple text, what would have happened with the bigger things? Consider yourself lucky. Sometimes dating is really, really hard. You have to stick with it and deal with situations like this. But eventually, you will meet your someone. You just have to learn to let the jerks go first because you deserve better. Way better.
Guest Blog by By Kristin Davin, Psy.D. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more at www.kristindavin.com. I would love to hear your story and help you get to a better place.