You met the love of your life in fresher’s week and now he/she isn’t returning any of your Snapchats or Insta DMs.
That’s right, you’ve been ghosted. But before you start digging into the Ben & Jerry’s and doing a classic Bridget Jones (because let’s face it, you’re probably young enough to be Bridget’s baby), be honest – at some point along the way maybe you’ve ghosted someone too? According to a legitimate scientific study in a fancy, academic journal (the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships – yep, that’s a thing), 25% of us ghost people and 20% of us admitted to having been ghosted ourselves.
What is ghosting anyway?
Ghosting isn’t a new phenomenon (just think of all those women that ran off with the milkman) and it isn’t gender-specific. But in a digital-age where you can block someone from your life with the tap of the thumb, it just got a lot easier.
The fountain of all Gen Z/Millenial knowledge (aka Urban Dictionary) describes ghosting as ‘the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone.’
Basically, when you can blatantly see last week’s date is active on messenger but he or she is acting like you don’t exist. And while it’s usually exclusive to romantic relationships, it doesn’t have to be - friends can ghost you too. But it doesn’t matter who’s cutting ties with you, there’s always a little sting.
Why does it hurt so much?
At the time, being ghosted can feel like the ultimate act of cruelty. But understanding why someone cut you off might go someway to helping you get over it. Maybe they don’t want to keep the relationship going or maybe they have other things going on. We could spend all day guessing about your ghost’s motivations but most often, people that ghost are focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and not thinking about how it might make you feel. They shut down and cut off relationships and according to Dr Castanos have difficulty trusting and being vulnerable. Plus, the more common ghosting becomes, the less of a big deal people think it is and the more people start to do it. Writing for the Chicago Tribune one serial-ghoster said ‘I didn’t understand exactly how I felt at the time, so instead of trying to talk it out, I ghosted.’
So what now?
Okay, you’ve been ghosted. So what do you do next? Let’s get real. Do you really want to date the kind of person that would treat you like this? You could ruminate until the end of time about the reasons that this person blew you off but when it comes down to it, it’s a tragically classic case of ‘it’s not you, it’s them’. And while being left high and dry might have you feeling like Akon in 2004, you’re probably better off without. Get your closure by understanding that their behaviour is unhealthy and not what you want in your life and it will help reframe how you look at the situation. They’ve sent you a loud (and ironically silent) message – they don’t have what it takes to have a mature, healthy relationship with you and they don’t have the courage to deal with their own discomfort.
It’s also wise to keep in mind that things NOT to do include sending endless messages and trying to force an answer from them, in a moment of weakness nominate a close friend to message instead – or just block them. You’re not Whoopie Goldberg so why try and contact a ghost? It’s not Halloween just yet.