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When I first read the book The State of Affairs, I was startled.
We usually discuss the person who was cheated on, who was hurt, who got dumped, but rarely do we discuss the one who cheated, hurt, or dumped others.
I was startled because Esther Perel did it. At last, someone has granted us access to the other side of the coin—the side we often avoid, escape, and would like to put behind us.
For me, it was liberating. It felt good reading her book and understanding why people tend to cheat. “They’re insensitive,” “I don’t understand why they did that,” and “I can’t believe they hurt me” have been replaced by a brand-new vocabulary that better translates the situation and emotions of the person who’s on the cheating side.
Ever since I read Perel’s book, I can’t help but flip the coin and see the other side.
Ghosting is pretty much like cheating in the sense that we don’t understand why it happened, and we tend to judge the other person for being insensitive or hurtful. Now I’m not excusing people who ghost other people because I’ve been there more than I can count on the fingers of one hand, and I know and understand that it plainly sucks. I even ghosted a few men when I was in my early 20s, and I can’t really blame myself because I was young and foolish and didn’t know better.
Consequently, I’m turning the coin today. I’m switching to the side we don’t like to remember or let alone discuss: people who ghost.
To clear things up, let’s start by ascertaining that it hurts so damn much when someone cuts us off without offering any explanation. And though the experience is painful and can be traumatic, we need to understand that people who ghost are not bad people—I don’t believe anyone is. We’re all good people, but we just don’t know what is happening in the hearts and minds of each other.
So, not knowing what someone else is thinking, feeling, or experiencing doesn’t make them insensitive or bad. There’s obviously another issue at play that we don’t know about.
What makes me eligible to discuss this? I’m not a certified life coach, and I’m not a love guru. I’m just someone who has been there, who has heard friends (both males and females) talk about why they had ghosted someone, and in some cases, I was lucky enough to reconnect with those who have ghosted me and offered me an explanation why they did what they did. I even consulted with my husband and asked him if he ever ghosted someone and why he did it.
So, although I have no certificates on my wall, I have a few answers coming from real people who were there.
Let’s unveil the mystery of ghosting and discuss the nine (there are probably more) reasons why someone might have ghosted us:
This personally happened with me around five years ago—it was sad but funny. We both liked each other and all was perfect, but somehow, intentions got lost in the game of “playing hard to get.” Well, in my own case, I was playing too hard to get that the guy thought I wasn’t interested. I never initiated a conversation, so while I was waiting for a message from him, he was actually waiting for a message from me—and thought I had ghosted him.
2. They don’t know what they want. Not knowing what one wants is no excuse to ghost someone. I know. But it happens all the damn time. When we don’t know what we want while we’re dating someone, it’s almost impossible to put it into words. If you’re not sure about what you desire or feel, how do you explain that? You don’t—you can’t. So the only way out is to vanish into thin air.
3. They’re dealing with their own sh*t. Some people date other people thinking they’re able to handle one more responsibility or commitment in their life that’s already full of problems. But once they’re romantically involved, they realize they weren’t ready to carry an additional emotional baggage. When we’re too scared to admit that we screwed up and shouldn’t have dated someone at the time when we were already dealing with so much, disappearing until further notice could be the only way out.
4. You weren’t exclusive. This one hurts the most, and because it does, ghosting might seem like the only option on the table. One of the main reasons someone might ghost us is because they’ve been seeing someone else and they’ve finally made their choice. Well, clearly, they didn’t choose us. So they stop texting, and maybe weeks or months later, we realize that we weren’t exclusive.
I know. It’s stupid; it’s silly; it’s insane. Would you leave someone just because you don’t want to hurt them? As far as I know, if you don’t want to hurt someone, you let them know why you’re leaving or don’t get involved with them in the first place. Reality check: things don’t always go the way we want them. And the ugly truth is, some people ghost us because they think that ghosting is safer, less painful, and less confrontational than hearing the words, “I’m leaving you.”
6. They freaked out. Fact: a lot of people freak out when things get serious. Not all of us have done the inner work and not all of us know how to deal with our emotions when they come to the surface. While talking it out seems like the perfect solution here, for some people, disappearing makes more sense. This is when ghosting becomes a form of escapism.
7. They’re not ready for something serious. Some people date with no particular purpose in mind. They just date for the sake of dating, and in their minds, they hope they stay casual. But, of course, they don’t. At some point, things move to another level, and when they do, some people just don’t want that. Since they just wanted casual and open dating, they cut off the other person and disappear so they spare the complications of “breaking up.”
8. They started developing emotions. Some people are scared of developing emotions, and they simply don’t like (or know) how to deal with them when they pop up. Since the initial plan is to stay emotionally distant, once they start thinking about or missing the other person, they call it quits before getting more emotionally involved.
And they don’t know how to tell you that. I kept this one for last because it sucks to know we’ve been dating someone who’s not into us. Hey, it happens, and it’s normal—we just don’t like to admit it. Maybe, at first, that person was physically attracted to us and when they got to know us more, they might have been repulsed, pushed away, or disliked certain parts in us. Consequently, to avoid any confrontation (and because it’s terrible to say, “I don’t like you anymore”), they prefer to toss us aside without prior notice.
Regardless of the reason why someone might have ghosted us, we should know it’s not about us. Even if they were not interested, it doesn’t mean we’re significantly flawed or are unfit for relationships. It just means that this person has another thing in mind (it’s just one person out of billions).
So don’t blame yourself, and most importantly, don’t hate on the one who has ghosted you. If they knew better, they would have done better. The simple truth is, not all of us are excellent communicators, not all of us have done the required inner work to lead a healthy relationship, and not all of us are equipped with the needed tools to confront each other.
If you’ve ever ghosted someone or are thinking about doing it, please know that this person deserves an explanation. Even if it hurts, one day they’ll appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness.