5.2
August 12, 2015

I Got “Ghosted”: The Effects of the Pervasive Cut-Your-Losses Silent Treatment.

girl alone ghost

The topic of ghosting has been a “hot button” issue over these last few weeks.

It has sparked both anger and sympathy all across the Internet. My iPhone news apps have filled me in.

For those who don’t know, ghosting is the nicer term for “ignoring someone, permanently.”

In other words, it’s used as an excuse to fade from someone’s life, while “relinquishing” all kinds “responsibility” from the relationship.

This can be done after the first date, after several dates or even after several years.

However, it doesn’t just apply to relationships with a significant other…it applies to friendships, too.

Speaking from experience, I can relate to both the anger and the sympathy that Internet users are expressing. I have been ghosted in the past and I have ghosted others. I know the damage it can cause to someone’s self-esteem, the confusion that takes over and clouds your judgments and the headaches you get from the tears.

I also know the necessity of it.

So what causes someone to ghost another being? Well, that depends.

For me, I was a part of a very toxic friendship, though I didn’t realize it at the time. To me, in that moment, we were best friends, yet somehow, we were always getting into trouble and I somehow wound up with all the blame. It wasn’t fair, but at the same time I thought I was having fun.

This is what happens when you’re surrounded by individuals who you think are your real friends, but in reality they’re actually your closest enemies.

I felt as though I had a partner in crime…and it didn’t help that, for a moment, we were inseparable.

However, as time went on, I began to notice that my grades were slipping, I was staying up far too late for my own health and I was chronically late for morning meetings. I couldn’t go more than four days without getting called into one office or another. Other peers began to resent me and I had no idea why. I was bullied and picked on, while my so-called “friend” would just sit back and laugh.

It wasn’t until after I lost a few of my real friends that I realized just how toxic the situation had become.

I was changing my personality to fit in with someone else and that just didn’t sit right with me.

So, I began the ghosting process.

First it was simple, I ignored a few texts and phone calls, I ignored (the early 2007) Facebook messages and emails, but I still had to see this person on campus. I was still told to “make nice.”

By my senior year, however, I was done.

I was done with being hurt, dragged through the mud and getting in trouble for things I had no hand in. I began ignoring my former “friend” completely. I wouldn’t even say hello. And in truth, that was better for me.

I felt as though I could breathe again. I no longer felt like I was being overshadowed by someone who constantly set me up to fail.

I was no longer drowning.

I didn’t feel like I owed anyone an explanation. I was doing this for me. I was reclaiming my life and I felt good about it.

On the flip-side, when I got to college, I found out what ghosting felt like on the receiving end.

I was approaching my junior year and this boy and I had been spending quite a bit of time together. We’d watch all kinds of TV shows and movies; we talked about our likes, wants, achievements and where we saw ourselves in the next five years. There was even a strong romantic chemistry. We were in the beginning stages of becoming a couple. Or so I thought.

No sooner had it started that it all stopped.

It stopped after a kiss goodnight with a promise that we’d see each other later on in the week. And just like that, this boy vanished. Calls went straight to voicemail, texts were flat out ignored and no explanation was offered to any of my friends.

I would often sit up at night, staring out my window, wondering what I did to deserve that kind of behavior. Did I do something wrong? Did I say something wrong? Was he suddenly just not that into me? None of it made sense. These types of thoughts went on for months.

Months of confusion, months of not sleeping well and several more months where I was filled with legitimate anger.

I decided that, for awhile, I was simply done with people. I didn’t want to date anyone. I didn’t want to look at anyone and sure as hell didn’t want anyone looking at me.

Now, as I am many years past it, I realize that maybe that boy was just not ready for commitment. I wanted the real deal. I am, after all, a relationship type of girl.

When I decide that I want to be in a relationship, I am looking for the long haul—a view that many of my exes just didn’t share. I will never actually know the real reason he did what he did. But I have to presume, just like I did to one of my friendships, that he did it for himself.

It was easier to just disappear off the face of the Earth than it was to confront someone and tell the thoughts, fears and emotions to someone’s face; because then you’d have to deal with the reactions.

That’s messy.

It’s easier to vanish than it is to hurt someone personally. And in some cases, it’s downright necessary to just remove yourself from the situation completely.

You can’t scorn someone else for making the decision to cut-out when you don’t know what was happening behind closed doors.

It is human nature to despise failures.

The way they make us feel—disappointed or sad—is not exactly an emotion we want to feel daily.

Failures often leave us feeling trapped in the same spot for days and sometimes months on end; they can make us feel worthless. Sometimes “ghosting” happens because emotions can’t be dealt with, reason is not understood, someone is in danger, or the other person is just not willing to come forward and tell you how they really feel.

Sometimes “ghosting” can be used as a wakeup call.

One which can be used to either look at yourself and your behavior or to really look at the person you were with.

If they ended up ghosting you, were they really the right person for you after all?

 

Relephant:

Breaking Up: When You’re The Bad Guy.

Get ghosted? No biggie. Here are 108 things to think about instead: 

Author: Josefina Hunter

Apprentice Editor: Summer Martin / Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Author’s Own 

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Jeneé Jan 13, 2016 3:35pm

How about when a family member ghosts you, no reason, have been in the closest relationship. Now I can’t see his children or him. This really messed me up for months with crying spells, severe depression. It’s such a loss. I thought family was forever, but apparently it’s not. I’m doing better, just can’t dwell on it. Sad, sad situation.

Lindaaaaa Dec 2, 2015 4:43pm

I don't see why a person cannot say. I'm ending this relationship, this is why, I will not be responding to any further contact from you. It's clean, it states your intent and the person knows what to expect from you. It does not have to be face to face if you feel unsafe.

KSsssss Oct 29, 2015 1:27am

Pfffft ghosting is NOTHING like gas lighting. Ghosting pretty much only happens because of smart phones, emails and FB. Sure people should have the courage to talk to the other person but it doesn't always happen. I've had it done, I've done it. It's life, get over it, stop handing your power over to someone else and move on with YOUR life!

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Josefina Hunter

Josefina Hunter is an internationally published celebrity, fashion and portrait photographer, mezzo-soprano, photography critic and blogger who splits her time between coasts. Her love for the arts began at a very young age. At three, she entered her first choir, at seven she received a tiny throw away camera, at eighteen she had launched her own photography business, at twenty she started her first blog and at twenty-two she had performed at the Lincoln Center with her choir. An all around creative, she spends her time on photo-shoots, creative conceptual development/team collaboration, working on her two degrees Psychology & Vocal Performance, and rehearsing. When she’s not busy editing, critiquing, writing or studying, she is curiously poking through the internet to find something new to learn and is often found playing with her seven pets. Feel free to connect with her via her Facebook Blog or her Twitter!