Do you have a ghost in your midst? You’re feeling someone a lot. You might even be thinking this could be a long-term thing. You like hanging out, they are funny and cool, and you get along with ease. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, they disappear. You go from texting every two minutes to radio silence. You’re sitting there thinking: What the hell just happened?
If you think you might be being ghosted, here is what you need to know (and what you should do about it).
First, what is ghosting?
Ghosting is basically rejection, only without the finality. It is when someone stops answering your texts or calls without explanation. This often happens out of nowhere. It can leave you feeling confused, hurt, and paranoid. Ghosting is, in a word, uncool.
“It’s ambiguous, up to interpretation, and can leave the door open for excuses to rekindle the spark down the line,” says Lorrae Bradbury, sex educator and founder of the sex-positive site, Slutty Girl Problems. “Ultimately, it’s a way to end the connection without having to answer about how you really feel.”
Why do we ghost? Because it’s a lot easier than straight up telling someone you’re not feeling it anymore. It’s the ultimate selfish move, you get out of a romantic or sexual situation without actually having to put yourself through any discomfort. The problem is that ghosting doesn’t take the other person into account at all. If you’re the one being ghosted, you’re left hanging without a line. You’re just dangling there with a lot of feelings unaccounted for.
If someone is ghosting you, there are signs.
If someone seems to be into you, you go on a few dates, have sex a few times, or even date for a little while, it can be hard to accept that they have proverbially died and become a ghost, evaporating into the ether with the Ghosts of Relationships Past.
Maybe they’re just busy, right? RIGHT?!
“I don’t buy the “too busy” excuse. If someone wants to make time for you, they will find a way to,” Bradbury tells us. “We are all busy, but when we find someone that lights us up, we can usually shift around responsibilities to make time for them. At the very least, we can see our notifications, and write back.”
The verdict: Don’t accept less than you’re worth. If you’re putting yourself out there and someone doesn’t message you back, they probably aren’t worth your time. We’re all too old and too awesome to play games. If this person is into you, they’ll make it happen. This should be bare minimum. As Bradbury puts it: “Do you really want to date someone who is too busy to text you back? How someone treats you while you’re dating is insight into how they will treat you in a relationship. Where are you willing to fall on someone’s priority list?”
If it looks like a ghost, sounds like a ghost, and vanishes like a ghost... chances are, it’s a ghost.
How to handle being ghosted
When you’ve spent a lot of time with someone and they suddenly drop off the face of the earth, it can throw you big time. It’s OK to admit you’re shaken up. It sucks that someone you legitimately cared about seems to care so little about you, they couldn't even show you the respect of a verbal breakup!
Don’t worry. We all feel this way after a ghosting. It’s also reasonable that you’d feel robbed of closure. While this is a logical feeling and every person deserves an explanation, you likely won’t get one. The sooner you accept this, the better.
“Ghosting is usually a clear indication that they are unwilling or unable to give you the closure you’re seeking,” Bradbury says. “Perhaps they don’t know the answers themselves, or can’t communicate their feelings properly. Either way, you’re unlikely to get a straight response.”
Remember that this is a them problem, not a you problem. Under no circumstances are you to send one of those long-ass texts or voicemails asking for a reason. Even if it feels good in the moment, you will not only remain without an explanation, but you will regret making yourself look needy and insecure.
“You might be tempted to ask about exactly what went wrong, but it’s best to chalk it up to incompatibility and know that a better match is out there for you,” Bradbury adds.
What to do when a ghost returns to haunt you
Also known as a haunting, a ghost sometimes reappears, seemingly out of nowhere. “They might’ve had a personal emergency or big reason why they fell off the map,” Bradbury says.
It's up to you how to proceed. Be straightforward about your feelings. If you were hurt, say so. They owe you an explanation if they expect to reenter your life. You should not bundle up your feelings and pretend everything is OK. This gives a ghost the green light to pull this shady move again down the road. You don’t need that in your life.
According to Bradbury, while it's acceptable to allow a ghost back into your life if they offer a reasonable explanation for their disappearance, you should be cautious. Pay attention to their behaviour and the circumstances surrounding their resurrection. Are they bored? Home for the holidays? Looking for a sure thing?
“If you’re continually being ghosted and there’s no valid reason to be found, it’s not worth your time,” Bradbury tells us. “Let your ghost fade into eternity.”