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

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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 

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anonymous 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.

anonymous 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.

anonymous 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!

    anonymous Feb 12, 2016 8:14pm

    Nope. I started ghosting a "friend" in 2002. I barely even had a cell phone.

    In reality the "friend" was being a huge ass after having been told I was gonna cut him off if he continued to be a huge ass. He 'mended' his ways until he figured out another way to get under my skin. Boom, I was done.

    The thing is, I don't really hate the guy. I still have some mutual friends and am pleased to hear he's doing okay through the grapevine. He was just a bad friend, and I'd hope that the experience helped him become a better one to others.

anonymous Oct 17, 2015 5:50pm

Its a tough one…i understand if you ghost someone for safety and security reasons…like an abusive relationship etc. But if you ghost someone because you think their feelings will be hurt, then you are a moron and a scum. You are probably feeling guilty for the crap arrangements or promises you've made with no intention of fulfiling them.. then you applied the cop out. Pain and hurt are 2 completely different things. I can take a punch to the face and feel the pain for 5 mins; after that i forget about it. Its gone. But if i got stabbed in the back with a knife, then what i'll experience for however long the injury lasts is hurt…unconfortable hurt. Thats the equivalent of telling someone straight that "hey it was fun but the connection doesnt fell right for you". Its painful but they forget about it quicker than you think….Ghosting is like the knife wound….it does more damage than the punch and in some cases, a permanent one. So please if the relationship isnt abusive or toxic, keep it real and honest. Dont ghost.

anonymous Sep 26, 2015 5:49pm

I notice, Josefina that you were "right" both instances you describe. I wasn't there, however, could it be that you got ghosted in the second instance as a result of something you did/didn't rather than that this guy "wasn't ready"?

anonymous Sep 16, 2015 7:09am

I was just recently ghosted by my male best friend. He persued me for 1 1/2 years, I finally realized I wanted more with him. We started dating in April. His work schedule became too much and I brought it up to him. He then tells me he doesn't feel he can give me what I want and need. Haven't heard from him since. He also suffers from depression and anxiety and is an alcoholic. It's been a terrible for the last month. I did absolutely nothing wrong. He could have said "hey I can't do this relationship and for right now I can't do the friendship". It was cowardly and hurtful, especially when I told him I was more concerned about losing our friendship then anything.

anonymous Aug 16, 2015 12:38am

I’m being “ghosted” by someone I also just expected friendship from at least. When we hung out it was like we could talk forever about anything and everything. I really started to care about her and then one day everything just went dead silent. I know she had ex problems, might be that they got back together now again and that’s the reason for all this. I would just have appreciated a reason. Life goes on though and guess some people doesn’t have the decency to show some respect for other people’s feelings.

anonymous Aug 15, 2015 8:43am

I've been ghosted since last September……Almost a whole year…..All I wanted was a friendship and she took it to the level She wanted..We loved. We spent time together. I wanted a friendship. That's all. Yeah she is beautiful. But a friendship is all I wanted. Now..She cut me loose. No calls. No texting. It's like I never existed. Many days and nights, for months I cried as soon as I got home from work. Laying in bed crying. Waking up crying. She moved on with her life. I'm still stuck with words, feeling's that I want to tell her. But it's not happening. Words she said to me are now meaningless.I'm praying for her to just say hello. I know renewing our friendship is a long shot but I'm optimistic about our friendship.

anonymous Aug 14, 2015 2:58pm

Ghosting feels bad, because rejection is never easy. That said, I always think I will personally be in a better place if I communicate with someone directly, and those who would rather avoid are probably not in such a great place personally. That said, when someone is stalking you or is in some way threatening you physically or through emotional blackmail, it can get very dangerous, and I am all for "ghosting" that person whenever necessary.

anonymous Aug 13, 2015 5:17pm

I agree that some relationships aren't meant to last (or more extreme: everything is temporary) and that those people can disappear from my live. They weren't right for me. Of course, that did hurt a lot when I was young. Now I'm older I also think there's nothing to gain from dragging a failed relationship along.
But I have to say: I do address my bad feelings before I consider a breakup. Communicating is key. Even when it's a lost cause. I've ended many friendships, explaining my reasons and listening to theirs, wishing them good luck without me. They never sought contact again and that was the end of both our frustrations.
On the other hand, I did ghost some friends too. I just stopped communicating with them. Not because I thought they were awful people, but I couldn't find the reasons to care about them anymore. Or the words to ask them how to improve the situation. And the feeling seems mutual because they didn't contact me anymore too. But ghosting still doesn't feel like the best option- more like a last resort.

anonymous Aug 13, 2015 6:45am

It is not the same and not all "ghosting" is cowardly. Sometimes, it's just that they want to bait you and you know it. It's taking away their power to do anything to hurt us. Through no-contact. None, positive or negative.

Ghosting is the only way I can send the point home – for example, to a narcissist – that I will not accept being manipulated anymore. The tough discussions have already been attempted or gone through entirely. The NC pushes in seemingly benign ways. They love bomb. They flatter and cajole and get innocent third parties involved, so that your "ghosting" seems cruel and/or unreasonable. To get you to think that maybe you're in the wrong after all… but then you see a smirk flash across their face in public. The mask slipped just enough to remind you that you're doing the right thing. It's self-preservation against someone who feeds on others' dignity.

There are a great number of people who will not allow anyone else to disagree with them without taking it personally… they do not accept your honesty, in ending a relationship (whatever its nature.) And at that point? Ghosting is the only way to go. You ended it with courage and honesty; they do not accept it.

That's when you realize that it doesn't matter if they accept it or not. You're done and you said so. It's over. Ghosting drives the point home: "I will not be communicating with you anymore."

anonymous Aug 12, 2015 11:52pm

I agree 100%. Ghosting is a cowardly way to shun the responsibility that comes with any relationship. The entire point of a relationship with anyone is the handful of special behaviors we offer one another including a certain level of respect. Ghosting throws all that away. It cheapens whatever there once was and it leaves people deeply hurt. We used to call this Gas-lighting. To ignore a person or give a silent treatment as a way of punishing them or controlling them. It's a very narcissistic control move and it weak. It's also an epidemic of the new world where people hide behind screens to avoid the only thing that makes life truly worthwhile, which is connection and human contact.

anonymous Aug 12, 2015 10:57pm

"Ghosting" is cowardly. Real adults address relationship problems head-on and part ways with courage and honesty. Always. Just because it's easier not to directly hurt someone's feelings, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. It's wrong. Period.

    anonymous Aug 14, 2015 2:18pm

    Sometimes, it's *safer* to ghost someone than address the problem head on. I had to do it and it wasn't cowardly, it was full of courage and in the best interest of my safety.

Geraldine GH Mar 21, 2018 8:23pm

Avoiding someone abusive who has stolen time from you is justice and self preservation.

Erin Pastore Jan 14, 2018 9:17pm

I personally don't think it's ever necessary to ghost somebody. It's immature, cowardly and just downright pathetic behaviour. I remember when I was in Grade 7, my 'friends' decided to ghost me for awhile...that gives you a pretty good idea of the maturity level of it. If you're not interested in somebody, then tell them. If you think you're in a toxic friendship, then just send your friend a message saying so. There's always a way to tell somebody that you don't want or can't have them in your life; don't torture them by ghosting them and leaving them with unanswered questions. It's emotional abuse.

Brian Lenz Nov 26, 2017 7:42pm

Great article... coming from another person who's been on both sides of the spectrum

Teresa Payton Apr 16, 2017 5:15am

I definitely disagree with most of this article. If we know first hand how it feels to be ignored or "ghosted" then why would we doing it to others? In my opinion it is cowardly and disrespectful. Even if the truth isn't always what we want to hear, it is at the very least appreciated.

Michael Borrego Feb 10, 2017 11:42pm

Ghosting is just a pussy's way out.

Deborah M. Hall Feb 10, 2017 5:22pm

This article is so off base. Ghosting is being a coward, period.

Butch Jackson Feb 10, 2017 3:58pm

I think this article does a huge disservice to the term "ghosting".Ghosting is just one of the many tools used by manipulative people.Not getting a call after a first date may be rude but just is not in the same relm.

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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!