Has ghosting affected you?
How we communicate has changed so much in the past 20 years. At the end of the 1990’s we still talked face-to-face and we called each other on the phone. We even wrote long letters.
If we were going to break up with someone then we more or less had to tell them in person that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. And by doing so we experienced the fallout and emotional reactions our actions caused. A few took the easier way out and wrote a ‘Dear John’ letter and finished the relationship. Some tried to do so over the phone.
But now, with modern technology, we don’t have to deal with other’s emotions. We can avoid any uncomfortableness our actions may cause. Texting ‘goodbye’ means that we don’t have to see how the other person reacts to our callousness. But recently we have gone a step further and have ‘ghosting’.
Ghosting is an example of how desperately we, as a society, are trying to remove bad emotions from our lives. We just cut off the other person. And in this we are saying you don’t matter to me. In fact you matter even less than I do to myself. I don’t want to be unhappy and seeing you reactive negatively to the breakup is not something I want to deal with.
For those who don’t know, ‘ghosting’ this new phenomenon is when someone, be they a friend or a lover, simply stops responding to the other person. Phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook contacts are ignored. The other person suddenly just doesn’t exist in your life. They are literally a ghost.
This is a rude, cruel way of finishing a relationship and very painful to the recipient. At the start the ignored person wonders what has happened. Then begin wondering if the person they are texting is OK? Surely something bad must have happened to them or they would have replied. Then the ignored person gets the cold hint and begins to wonder what is wrong with them. What did they do wrong? And these are questions that never get answered. The ignored person is left with their self-esteem shattered. And some become angry and vengeful.
But if you have been ghosted then exploring the whole range of feelings you may have with a therapist can help you move on. You can rebuild your self-esteem. Although they won’t realise it, those who have ghosted are probably more in need of therapy than the person they have so easily hurt. Their avoidance of pain and responsibility for hurting others really should be tackled if they are ever going to build a loving and successful relationship.
Ghosting is here and not going to go away. But hopefully, with maturity, those who are inclined to avoid confrontation will learn how to deal with it and face the consequences.
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About Owen Redahan
Owen works with individuals and couples. He focuses mainly on issues around self-esteem, relationships, sexual addiction and work problems using CBT and person focused therapies.
He holds a diploma in Counselling and is Vice Chair of ATSAC (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity). He is based in Canary Wharf (E14).