It finally happens. You meet someone that you really seem to click with. They are funny, and cute. Charming and sweet. You spend hours on the phone talking, getting to know them and then you meet. Your interactions in person are just as great. You feel comfortable around them, and continue to spend more time with them. You slowly begin to build a rhythm, good morning texts and evening phone calls. It feels like this could really go somewhere, and then one day everything changes. You don’t get that good morning text. No problem, maybe work got away from them today. But then you don’t even get a how is your day going? Day turns into night and still nothing. You’re an adult so you pick up the phone and contact them. They might answer and tell you that they’re sorry they’ve been so busy. Ok, you think but how busy can someone be to not have a 5-minute phone call? You try to ignore that voice in the back of your head saying something has changed. But this behavior continues, until you never hear from them again. You’ve been ghosted.
According to the dictionary, “ghosting is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” In other words, they just disappear off the face of the earth. I had started seeing someone towards the end of last year, and it was going well or so I thought. We went from speaking every day to him not communicating with me at all. When I reached out to ask what was up, he dodged the question. Eventually I did send him a message letting him know that if his feelings had changed he could have communicated that with me. He sent a tepid response about speaking tomorrow, and we never spoke again. Even though we weren’t talking for a long time, the sudden switch of being ghosted is very painful. So, as we head into February, I wanted to highlight the 5 stages of being ghosted.
- Denial: You notice that you haven’t heard from them or that their behavior has changed. You will give them every excuse in the book. Work, family issues, stress, maybe they’re sleeping. Or maybe they got hit by a car and they’re in a coma. Maybe they have Covid, or a family member has Covid. If/when you finally speak, they will deny it too. They’ll tell you that they’re busy and they’re sorry. For a few minutes, that terrible fear of being ghosted will disappear until the next day.
- Anger: Once you realize what has happened, you will be furious if you had feelings for this person. How dare they ghost you? Why can’t they be an adult and communicate that they are no longer interested? What is wrong with people? These are all questions that you will mull over and if you’re like me ask your friends as they try to help you go through this the best that they can. You might be tempted to call them and curse them out. I know I did, and when my calls were finally answered I felt no better than I had before.
- Bargaining: Maybe they met someone else? But they could have told you, you’re not an unreasonable person. Maybe it’s something you did or didn’t do? You will ask yourself a million questions as to why this person just disappeared. Especially if there were any conversations about the future. You might reread your text messages to see where it went wrong. You won’t find any answers.
- Depression: You might be sad over what has happened. Ghosting denies you a sense of closure. You will never know what went wrong or what triggered that switch in someone. It’s the loss of a future that you might have begun to envision or that they had promised you. It’s painful. But you do get through it. I would encourage you to not rush this stage. It is the only way that you can truly move forward to the next stage.
- Acceptance: You begin to understand that you were spared from someone who would not take their ability to hurt you into consideration. They spared you countless hours of poor communication, and paved the way for someone who will cherish you. Our generation has made dating and love disposable. We believe that there is always someone better around the corner, and to be vulnerable is to be weak. Vulnerability is strength, and you allowed someone in and they hurt you. Honestly, I think we all know deep down that this person wasn’t the one we were looking for. Thank them for doing you a favor, and continue to hope for better.
After I was ghosted, I decided to take a step back to pick up the pieces. It’s been a couple months since then, and even though I still don’t understand what went wrong it’s no longer my problem. I admit that with any future relationships or interactions, I will always have that fear of being ghosted. I had it before, and unfortunately it is a part of modern dating culture.
For anyone reading this, that has a habit of ghosting people you need to ask yourself why you have the inability or fear of effectively communicating your feelings? It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but it will help both you and the person you are seeing move forward. It allows for growth and closure. Also think about how you might feel if the same thing happens to you.