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Ghosting: What is it and what can you do if it has happened to you?

Have you ever had a relationship with someone and suddenly with no explanation they stop talking to you, don’t return your calls, or respond to any messages you have sent? If so, you have been a victim of ghosting.

Ghosting, also known as simmering or icing, is the practice of ending a personal relationship; romantic, friendship, or family by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. This act is painful, and confusing for the ghosted, and can damage their self-worth and self-esteem. Ghosting can be considered a form of emotional abuse. Ghosting is unhealthy and disrespectful behaviour. Unless a person presents as a threat, it is inappropriate and immature to not communicate that you are not interested in having a relationship anymore.

So, why do some people ghost others?

It is usually because they are terrified to talk about what they are feeling and would rather disappear than face the issue. They want to avoid any type of confrontation or hurting the other person. Really this is their issue, and it has little to do with you. You are caught in the crossfire of their own personal problems. The ghoster has a problem with confrontation and has probably ghosted others if you were to examine their past. Ghosting is a passive-aggressive tactic that can leave psychological scars.

Personally, I understand how painful being ghosted is. I know how it can leave you feeling crazy while you try to guess what you did wrong, but no amount of guessing is going to give you the answer. Only the ghoster knows and if they are unwilling to share this with you then it is best to let it all be and know that you deserve better than what they are offering you.

I think it is important to note that studies have shown that 65% of ghosters feel anxiety, awkwardness, and guilt after ghosting someone and some may reach out to you at some point. This does not mean you should sit around waiting for them because they may never reach back, but some ghosters do come back. Accepting them back into your life is totally up to you. If they come back without an apology or explanation for their actions, then I urge you not to reconnect with them because they are not seeing the error of their ways and you will probably get hurt again. If they do apologize and can explain themselves then there may be hope. Listen to your gut as you move forward and do what is best for you.

It is also important to note that ghosting is not caused by a mental illness but reflects some classic traits of narcissism including low self-esteem, the need to have the upper hand in a relationship, and a lack of empathy for the other person. Someone with this personality disorder forms relationships based on how they benefit them so be wary of how close you get.

It is important to take time to heal after being ghosted. Your trust has been broken and this act can be hard on your feelings of self-worth and your self-esteem. Some ways to help with your healing are:

1. Take time to grieve. You have lost someone who meant a lot to you. Grieve like you would a death. Journal about your pain, tear it up or safely burn it to give yourself extra release. Talk to someone who has earned your trust and don’t isolate yourself.

2. Carry on with your life. I know that it can be hard to carry on, but you deserve to be happy. Keep living your life instead waiting for them.

3. Get out and exercise. Go for a walk, go to the gym, or play a sport with friends. Activity helps your mental and physical health.

4. Amp up your self-care. Do things that lift your soul like getting out into nature, checking out that new bookstore, meeting up with friends, having a nap, or enjoying a bubble bath are a few ideas.

Take the time to heal. Healing will take as long as it takes, and you deserve to take this time. It won’t always hurt this badly, and you will recover, stronger and wiser than ever before.


Janet Rhodes BA, NLPP, CCTP, RC.t

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