February 14, 2024

Ghosting Doesn’t always Mean They Don’t Care.

You wake up and no, you won’t look at your phone straight away.

Breakfast first, maybe even a bit of yoga, meditation, or journaling. Pretending you don’t care that much, just in case the universe is watching.

The longer you wait, the more you hope for that little flame in your heart to light up when you read his/her message. After all, you agreed to go to that new restaurant soon and have a chat. Except it’s been one week since you last wrote, and you’re still waiting for an answer. You checked what can be checked—your spam folder and your sent messages if you correspond through emails, or any proof that it’s been sent or read if it’s through texting.

You’re an empath, so you wonder of he/she had an accident. You read your last message 20 times, wondering if you said something wrong or if it was not funny enough, smart enough, warm enough, or even detached enough. You made scenarios of this person being super busy, meeting someone else, or being a psychopath. You tried to look on social media but no cues there. You wouldn’t write again so you wouldn’t appear too desperate or needy. You asked your magical cards about him/her but you got contradictory responses and threw your angel deck against the wall screaming “you suck” at them. You would give a fair amount of money to be made invisible and spy in his/her house to understand what’s going on.

You open your phone with a knot in your solar plexus and see the numbers of new messages in each platform you’re using. You’ll open the one you use to communicate with him/her last. It’s like a kids game made of superstition—“If I don’t look straight away maybe I’ll be rewarded.”

It doesn’t work that way, does it?

Then you don’t know what message you hate the most—the one from administration, from work, from this self-love program you subscribed to, or even from your caring friend who invites you to have a coffee.

I know the feeling of the heart sinking, the needle in the pit of your stomach, the earth-opening beneath your feet ready to swallow you, the sadness, the rage, and the sensation of defeat and nothingness.

I know it as a person with an anxious attachment style and as a coach observing my clients. Ghosting is never pleasant. But for us, anxious attached peeps, it feels like torture. Because it sends us back to this adaptive response we develop to cope with neglecting or emotionally unavailable care givers: waiting.

Waiting is indeed a developmental trauma response. It hurts so much because while you wait, you make the silence mean terrible things about you and end up feeling defeated and as if you don’t belong.

But if someone with an anxious attachment style constantly attracts avoidants, it’s not because avoidants are necessarily sadistic creatures looking for a prey. Anxious people and avoidants have actually something in common: They both experienced a hurtful lack of connection and intimacy earlier in life and are craving it.

Avoidants seem to manage it better because they can detach and move on faster, continuing to function efficiently in their work and social life while we might cry on the couch in front of a depressing Netflix series. When in fact their armour is just thicker, to the point they struggle to feel. That’s exactly why they get attracted to us in the first place. Because despite the pain, the hurt, the past experiences, we are still willing to feel. And deep inside, they envy that.

I lived 10 years in Bali and I think it’s a Mecca for avoidant westerners—like any other beautiful place with less formalities, plenty of things to distract us from what we feel, and less rules. I could write a complete article about it, but what was funny to observe was the amount of them suffering from inflammatory responses. I always thought the repressed emotions were burning them from inside.

But back to you when you are ghosted and you care. Okay, sure, 50 percent of the time the other person doesn’t care, and there’s not much to say about that, but I would say the other 50 percent of the time it might be the contrary. I want to address this last situation.

So what to do? It depends on what you want.

If you want to end the torturous feeling, as you had enough, you can write to the person to explain how you feel and be firm about not wanting anything to do with someone treating you with so little respect.

It’s perfect when you want to end the dynamic and move on, but not if you hope to make them react. They won’t. Because this is their self-sabotage thingy to make you not tolerate what happens and withdraw. It’s just confirming to their shadow side that yes, even someone who seemed to care so much about them will go away.

If you want to leave the door open, the best thing to do is nothing. Avoidants feel safe when some space is created. And if they care, they’ll come back when ready; they will, at some point.

But how to do that when on your side the waiting hurts so much?

You want to tend to your nervous system—especially the waiting.

People with an anxious attachment style do this one thing that sends them to hell when they fall for someone avoidant. They plug all their life force into a romantic partner or a potential romantic partner—all of it.

So if the other person withdraws, they feel as if they’re dying.

It’s even more true for women who have been conditioned to make their partner the center of their universe instead of themselves.

So here are a few tips to manage your nervous system if you can’t help waiting for now:

>> Accept that you wait and care, and don’t shame yourself for wanting love, affection, or connection. This is a beautiful desire and what makes you a fantastic human.

>> Contemplate the concept of love being a village, instead of one person, and pour energy into yours. With who can you share, contribute, listen, get support, or get nourished? Love is exponential—the more you let it enter your heart from many directions the less your heart will leak all its life force in the direction of one person.

>> Catch yourself projecting on the other person thinking bad things about you or making scenarios. And reframe, “If this person doesn’t care, there’s nothing I can do. If this person cares, he/she’ll come back when ready. The only thing I can offer now is space.”

>> Move. Overthinking is amplified when you are static.

>> Choose of a fair amount of time you need to check your phone each day. You want to lessen the adrenaline rush, which is poisoning your system each time you don’t find a message. Five is better than 20.

This feeling in your body, that your survival is linked to this one person, you want to honour it because at some point, earlier in life, it was true.

Today your reality is different. And if the feeling persists in your body, despite you being aware that your life isn’t on the line with this one person disappearing or being silent, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. This doesn’t have to be a life sentence, and it can be shifted.


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