by Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT
“Ghosting” is when someone you’re dating cut off the relationship by cutting off all communication without any explanation.
This post isn’t geared towards being ignored after a first or second date. Maybe that’s rude. Maybe not. I don’t know. But really, investment should be low on those dates, so moving on…
I’m talking about the painful experience of spending a significant amount of time with someone (several dates to several years) and then suddenly “poof!” they’re gone. It’s a horrible and anxiety provoking experience.
I get asked a lot “why was I ghosted?”, so here is the answer: “We will never know for sure”
And that’s where the pain comes from. Uncertainty. Playing scenarios out in our head. Then we do what our child self did whenever a problem arises – we blame ourselves. Because, well, at least there is some control in that.
“I must have been too needy” or “too ugly” or “did I do something weird when we had sex?”. “I knew my family would chase him away!”, “I just didn’t make enough money to satisfy her”. Oh the pain of being abandoned and then making up the most painful version of events of why that might have been the case.
If you’ve been ghosted, take time to be kind to yourself. Consider how you can continue to present and be the best, most loving version of yourself.
Every time you ask yourself “why?” remember that this is one thing you cannot figure out no matter how intelligent you might be (because your thought aren’t always fact).
Most importantly, remember that if someone ghosted you they are avoiding a conversation they aren’t able to have. However, if they could, the result would be the same. They’d have ended the relationship. You deserve to be with someone that wants to be with you. And is willing to have the tough conversations to do it.
Now, here is a message for you ghosts (which, by the way, is like 80% of you out there, according to surveys). Delaying a difficult conversation is often due to your own anxiety of conflict. However, we know that avoidance actually increases anxiety and also guilt. Learning to manage your anxiety so that you can have difficult conversations is the most kind thing you can do for yourself and the person you’re dating. Unless they’ve abused you or are unrelenting in their pursuit (after you’ve been very clear) than you both deserve a conversation.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a licensed marriage therapist in Philadelphia. Elizabeth supports individuals and couples improve the relationship they have with themselves and others through better communication, self soothing, and a clear understanding of what a successful marriage looks like. She believes that any committed couples who is willing to do the work can walk away from therapy with more clarity and connection in their relationship.