How to effectively deal with being ghosted
Ghosting is a term that has become increasingly commonplace and more regularly used in the dating world and in the digital age. It could be seen to occur when someone you know disappears seemingly without a trace, it's as if they vanish like a ghost from your life.
They could be someone you are dating, an individual you are getting to know socially or a person you have known for a long time. Ghosting could happen at various points of knowing someone or getting to know someone. It could occur at the very beginning of a romantic relationship but might also occur in the middle of one and can happen either in face-to-face situations or after online liaisons.
Dealing with the emotional impact of being ghosted can be very challenging. Since ghosting occurs seemingly out of nowhere it can be difficult to know how to react as you are usually not aware of the cause or reason for the stony silence. Repeated attempts to gain clarification can be met with non-responsiveness as the person fails to respond to calls, texts, emails, or social media messages. The digital age can compound feelings of frustration as messages may appear to have been read yet the silence and non-responsiveness continues unabated.
Ghosting not only affects the person being ignored but also impacts the ghoster, since they are passive-aggressively avoiding a confrontation. Not addressing an issue in any relationship will contribute to the build-up of anxiety and can negatively affect other relationships.
Ghosting says more about the person doing it, than vice versa. They most likely lack personal communication skills and are cowardly avoiding a conversation. Unless they are psycho-pathetic, they will likely be left with difficult feelings associated with having to carry the guilt and shame of treating someone poorly.
How to deal with ghosting
The mental health effects of being on the receiving end of these actions can be very challenging. There can be feelings of anger as you are left feeling wounded from the apparent rejection. The emotional pain can be worse if you have known the person longer and if you have shared lots of personal material with them.
Not having an explanation for the ghosting can potentially trigger a troubling inner dialogue whereby you wonder what you did wrong, and worse what is wrong with you. Such inner dialogue can potentially reactivate old wounds and past rejections and this can end up making it all about you. You are not the problem here. Unless you have done something worthy of being ignored, the ghoster is the one who is not being transparent.
How to move forward if it happens to you or someone you know:
1. Take control of the communications
Ensure the communication is about them, not about you. Instead of asking what you have done wrong, you could keep the focus on what is going on with them. The spotlight should be on why they have chosen to blank you, not what you might have done to upset them.
So, you could message them asking if everything is okay with them and if there is anything you can do for them. Say what needs to be said and move on. If you were the one who really did anything wrong they will have the opportunity to communicate this there and then. This will help avoid being the victim in this scenario.
2. Boost your self-care regime
Keep the focus on your well-being. When you are feeling an emotional reaction such as anger, sadness or guilt there is a greater danger of seeking self-soothing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as addictive behaviours. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, physical exercise and that you are maintaining a healthy diet.
3. Expand your social support structure
This is the time to reach out to the people you feel safe with. It is also a time to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to for a long time. You can be more receptive to making new connections. This will keep you focused on your own well-being rather than worrying about how you might have done something wrong.
4. Review your personal boundaries
Do you need to be more discerning about who you let into your personal world in the future? You could review your relationships. Perhaps with the ghoster there were early signs of what was to come. Ask yourself whether you felt respected by them in the early stages of getting to know them. Did they listen to you, for example, or were they constantly interrupting when you were having a conversation? Was the relationship one way, where it was all take by them rather than being on a give-and-take basis? Were there early signs of overly sensitive behaviour by them?
Strong boundaries help everyone. You say what needs to be said and the other person knows where they stand. Being clear is being kind. If there are early signs of red flag behaviour, do you address it before it gets out of hand?
5. Treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself
This could be the ideal opportunity to reaffirm your own values about how you treat others. Take these hurt feelings from being ghosted and use them for positive purposes. Reaffirm a pact with yourself that you won’t treat others in such an avoidant manner yourself. If you feel you need to end with someone do it in an honest and transparent way.
How can counselling help?
Counselling can help if the rejection suffered causes a kind of compound effect by reactivating old hurts and past rejections. A part of you might become obsessive potentially wondering what is wrong with you. This form of rumination can be commonplace in the aftermath of a rejection.
Time can often be a healer. Counselling can be helpful if time itself is not shifting the pain. Perhaps there are reoccurring rigidly held self-limiting belief systems and old life scripts that start to affect your self-confidence and are holding you back in life. Getting ghosted could be a blessing in disguise as it could lead to a personal improvement plan that transforms your life and all your relationships.