Ghosting is one of the biggest phenomena in dating. Pretty much everyone has been ghosted one time or another and I bet most people online dating have ghosted another person at least once during their journey.
First, what is ghosting exactly? From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: The act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) usually without explanation by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.
This term is mostly used in regard to dating, but it can also be applied to friends, possible employers, contractors, etc. – anyone you were expecting/hoping to hear from.
I recently saw an Instagram post about ghosting that I thought was spot on. It read:
This is why being ghosted hurts so much:
- It triggers our deepest fears of abandonment
- It reinforces beliefs that we’re not good enough
- It can trigger memories of emotional neglect
- It leaves us with a lack of closure
- It creates self-doubt (eg. What’s wrong with me?)
- It makes us feel as if we are not worthy of love
Dating is already (can be) complicated, frustrating and emotionally draining without the added feelings of fear, self-doubt and the other negative self-talk we burden ourselves with.
Why do people ghost? How do you manage ghosting when online dating, how do you get over being ghosted?
Ghosting is especially painful when it’s by a person who you really like and/or thought you jived with. It feels like there’s nothing worse than saying good-bye after a date, having the impression your excitement is reciprocated, anticipating the next contact and the next date, just to end up being blown off, ignored and disregarded.
Forgive the cliché, but the truth is, it’s them, not you. Although it’s hard, being ghosted is not a reflection on you, but a reflection on the person who does the ghosting.
Even if the other party didn’t like something about you or your personality, the right thing to do is reach out and say something gentle and kind such as, “thank you for your time, you’re a very nice person, but I’m not feeling a romantic connection. Good luck to you in your search.”
Wouldn’t it be so helpful if people did that!? Yes, the rejection may still hurt, but at least you’re not left wondering!
Unfortunately, people don’t always do the right thing, and you have to focus on your own mental health, security, and positive outlook. So how do you cope with ghosting when online dating? Simply put, you have to find a way to let it go.
It’s a bummer, but we probably will never know why people ghost, or why a particular person ghosted you. We don’t know what’s going on in other people’s lives. We don’t really know why a person ghosted, so why drive yourself crazy making up reasons, especially reasons that make you feel like crap about yourself. Why start telling yourself you’re not good enough, or that you’re not worthy of love.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
NO ONE is not worthy of love.
If you’re a self-help book junkie like me, there’s plenty you can read on this topic. Here’s a great list from Positive Psychology: My favorite book from this list is Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life.*
Please allow me a quick tangent, this book got me through a rough time in my life once. I’d gone through a brutal break-up and I was down in the dumps. I ended getting this book in my hands and my spirits did a 180. I busted through my depression and felt like myself again. So, if you’re struggling, or even if you’re not and you just like feel-good self-help, get a copy of this book.
Back to ghosting. It’s going to happen to you. And, you’re going to do it to someone else. Or at least you’ll want to!
For some reason many of us feel that it’s less of a blow if we stop communication without explanation than if we send the rejection message like the suggestion I mentioned above. Breaking up with someone is hard to do, even with a person we just met, and people turn into wusses. People would rather avoid it than face it.
Try not to let it get to you, at least not overall. Of course, it’s going to sting for a period of time, a few days, a week, a month, and that’s ok. You’re human, you’re allowed to let yourself feel emotions, even the negative ones. However, sooner or later it’s time to get over it, and not let it affect you and how you feel about yourself. Going further, don’t let it affect your dating life or how you feel about your dating life.
Again, keep in mind, the reason a person ghosted is probably about what’s going on in their life, not about who you are as a person. A friend of mine recently told me that a guy who ghosted her reappeared and explained that he was embarrassed about some trouble he got himself in. So, all the time she spent agonizing over it, asking herself what she did wrong, trying to figure out what he didn’t like about her, only to find out in the end that it had nothing to do with her! Should he have disappeared without a trace? No. Being honest and saying, I have things going on in my life right now and dating is tough for me to prioritize would have sufficed.
Forget moral code, right now, though. That’s not what we are focusing on. Your perception, your negative feelings and your negative self-talk is what you want to pay attention to.
You will find the right person and the right person will find you. The person who blows you off, who doesn’t respect honest communication, the person who doesn’t have enough confidence to relay a disappointing message is not the right person for you.
Other things to consider: the person who ghosted you is inconsiderate, lacks confidence, accountability, character, and integrity. How is that a reflection on you? Try not to wonder and fester over why someone ghosted you, and simply conclude that’s what’s most important is that they possess these negative character traits. Traits that do not meet your standards.
Also, if after a date you don’t hear from them and they don’t hear from you, that is not ghosting. That is two people mutually recognizing you are not a good match.
I once dated a man for 5 months who just up and disappeared. I guess he didn’t feel he owed me some sort of a break-up message or phone call. It pissed me off. However, at the end of the day, didn’t he show his true colors? Didn’t he demonstrate what kind of wimpy man he really is?
The way I see it, I dodged a bullet.
Working toward being nonchalant about ghosting can be challenging, and some occurrences might be easier than others. You may be excited that one particular relationship is going in the right direction just to find out you were wrong. It’s a blow. It’s a blow your feeling, your expectations, and your ego. Others might be easier because you weren’t sure if you were all that interested anyway.
We all face challenges, but it’s how we get through them that matters most. How you choose to react to being ghosted is up to you. If you let it ruin your dating life or your attitude toward dating, that’s a choice. If you don’t let it ruin your dating life, if you find a way to let it go and keep on being the amazing person you are, the right person who would never in a million years ghost you will come along. And, when that happens, you’ll wonder why you were so upset about the ones who did.