How to deal with ghosting

By Olivia Matheson-Mowers

Posted on February 14, 2022

What is ghosting and what to do if you’ve been ghosted

In the modern world of dating applications and social media platforms, it’s never been easier to get to know someone and form connections. Some of these connections can lead to friendships and romantic relationships but sometimes these bonds can be cut short without any warning or explanation. This situation is culturally known as, “ghosting” and can be a very confusing experience. Read ahead to learn more about ghosting, why people partake in this type of behaviour, and ways to cope if it happens to you.

What is ghosting?

Psychology Today Canada defines ghosting as abruptly ending all communication and contact with someone without an explanation. After cutting ties, all subsequent attempts to reach out will be ignored by the ghoster. It can feel as though this person has quite literally vanished from your life. There has been a notable rise of ghosting within the last decade, which is often connected to the increased use of social media and online dating applications.

While the term is often associated with romantic relationships, and particularly those formed online, it has recently been expanding into other forms of dynamics. Some examples of the recent expansions are friendships, familial relationships, employers, and employees.

Why do some people choose to ghost?

Due to the rise in ghosting, there has been lots of research and surveys conducted in an attempt to better understand this behaviour. Some experts believe that the anonymity and isolation offered by modern-day dating has made it a lot easier to cut contact. If a relationship primarily takes place online, it can create a distance between the two people and can make it easier to dismiss one another’s feelings. Also, there is likely to be few mutual social connections between two individuals who have been dating virtually. This too can make it easier to ghost because of the lack of social consequences.

Another potential reason could be the duration of the relationship. The ghoster may feel as though both parties haven’t put a lot of time or emotion into the relationship and don’t feel badly about cutting off contact. Ghosting behaviour has also been linked to individuals who believe in destiny and the idea of soulmates. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that people with stronger destiny beliefs were 60 per cent more likely to view ghosting as acceptable behaviour.

Some researchers have also proposed that it could possibly be related to the ghost’s attachment style. Attachment style is a psychological theory that was developed by psychoanalyst John Bowlby and development psychologist Mary Ainsworth. The theory was formulated to explain the specific ways that we relate to others in our relationships.

There are four major attachment styles: Secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. The attachment styles associated with ghosting behaviour are anxious and avoidant attachment. People with anxious attachment styles crave intimacy but will feel insecure about their relationships. Individuals who possess avoidant attachment styles are often uncomfortable with forming close relationships and prioritize independence. Both of these attachment styles can make it difficult to have vulnerable, difficult, and honest conversations, which can lead them to ghost someone instead.

Emotional impacts of being ghosted

Whatever reason someone has for ghosting, it can still be very hurtful. It can be a traumatic experience that may leave you feeling disrespected, used, and disposable. Ghosters don’t offer an explanation for why they’re cutting off contact with you, which can make you unsure of how to react.

It can lead to self-doubt, as you wonder why you didn’t see this coming or what you could’ve done to cause this. It can result in reflecting back to look for warning signs or things you could’ve done differently. Without the chance to communicate with this person and find out why they ghosted you, you are likely to never receive answers to your questions.

Ghosting can also be viewed as the ultimate form of the silent treatment, which is defined as the refusal to talk with someone who is willing to communicate. In serious cases, it can be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse. This similarity to the silent treatment has led some mental health professionals to label ghosting as emotionally cruel. It prevents the ghosted person from being able to express their emotions and be validated.

How to cope with being ghosted

Remember that you are not alone. While ghosting does suck and it’s not very nice, it’s unfortunately a very common practice in the modern age of dating. A 2016 survey conducted by the online dating site PlentyOfFish found that around 80 per cent of single individuals between the ages of 18 and 33 have been ghosted while dating.

The most important thing is to remind yourself that being ghosted is not any indicator of your worthiness to be loved. Ghosting doesn’t have anything to do with you but rather is a reflection of the ghoster’s own personal beliefs or struggles.

Instead of trying to understand why they ghosted you, spend more time with friends and family members who can support you. It can also be helpful to participate in activities that make you happy, like yoga, drawing, photography, or any other enjoyable hobby.

Also, don’t be afraid to date or form friendships just because someone ghosted you. There are so many wonderful connections waiting for you with people who will respect you, and appreciate all of your wonderful traits!

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