Our connections with others define almost every moment of life. Unfortunately, our hectic lives often make it difficult to maintain relationships with others. This difficulty is even more compounded when trying to establish new connections. Most of us have had the experience of beginning what seems to be a solid rapport with another person only to have them suddenly disappear, aka ghosting. While ghosting is generally used to refer to romantic relationships, it can also happen between friends, family, acquaintances or business situations.
When you are ghosted trying to figure out why and what went wrong is never an easy process. When there is no clear answer for their vanishing it can bite deeply, leaving you full of questions.
Today’s column comes from a reader who has an ongoing ghosting issue and is looking for answers. What should you do when you get ghosted? Why does ghosting happen?
“Maybe it is how social media is these days, I don’t know. It is hard for me to talk to people or make connections, and I keep getting ghosted. We talk for a while, hang out even, and then *poof* they up and vanish on me. It happens over and over again. I hate it. Why do people ghost? Don’t they realize how painful it is to do to someone?”–Ghosting Is Really Rude
Ghosting is a painful, traumatic experience GIRR, and one I understand all too well. Almost all of us get ghosted at some point. You are left confused and seeking answers that you do not have. You keep going over fragments of conversations and interactions in your mind, wondering where it all went wrong.
Are You Owed An Explanation For The Ghosting?
The more people that are put on this planet and the more the bulk of our interactions occur online, the more ghosting happens. It was much harder to ghost someone when everybody lived in the same village and spent their entire life in the same 20-mile radius. These days our reach is global and your chances of getting ghosted are much higher. Is it a sign of increasing rudeness as a society? Or are there other factors also at play?
I have been on both sides of this equation. I’ve been ghosted on and I’ve ghosted others. I know that some people counsel that you should never do it—if you’ve shared time and space with someone you owe them an explanation as to why you are no longer interested. I do not share that opinion. Allow me to explain.
When people have ghosted on me I have of course wanted an explanation of their reasons, but they don’t owe that to me. Nobody does, as nice as that would be. The not knowing stings, particularly if it is a pattern that seems to repeat over and over in your life. Is it frustrating? Incredibly so, but the only real option available to us is to make peace with the not knowing.
Most Of Our Relationships Are Temporary
The truth is, most of our relationships are temporary. People are constantly coming in and out of our lives and we are coming in and out of the lives of others. Some people stick around longer than others but they are the exception, not the rule. When a person disappears from our lives there is always a reason even if we are not aware of it.
Our lives are complicated affairs with a myriad of financial, family, and work obligations. Add on having to deal with physical and mental health issues as well as all the small daily emergencies that manifest all the time and it’s amazing we have any time to socialize at all.
Even if you’ve been chatting with someone online for a while or meeting up with them in person you don’t really know what’s going on in their lives. Expecting people to reach out and explain to you that they can’t make time for you anymore is an unfair burden to put on others. There are a multitude of reasons why someone’s life could shift quickly—a family emergency, work, health issues, the list is endless. People owe you no explanation for their reasons just like you wouldn’t owe them one if your life suddenly became more complex. Yes, it is the “polite” things to do—but the polite thing to do doesn’t always work out and can sometimes make it worse.
Too Many Bad Past Interactions Can Contribute To Ghosting
Speaking personally, I have ghosted because of too many bad experiences of people not being able to take “No thanks” for an answer in the past. I have chatted with people online or gone out on dates only to realize for whatever reason that it just wasn’t clicking. When I was honest and said I wasn’t interested or didn’t have the time, far too often they responded with arguments about why my feelings are wrong, attempting to induce guilt or lashed out with personal insults. After a few experiences like that, one ends up becoming wary.
Fear of having to deal with potential rage fallout or sulkiness is often why I would end up quietly ghosting people. I can only speak for my own reasons personally, there are many different reasons for ghosting and we almost never know the other side of it.
Start the Change By Looking At Your Side Of The Interactions
If ghosting is a pattern that keeps repeating in your life and you want to change it, the most effective place to start is by looking at yourself. Maybe you are putting more value on these relationships than the person on the other side is? Perhaps you aren’t picking up on the cues that other people are putting out? Possibly you need to work on your communication and interpersonal interaction skills?
I am aware that this advice is a hard pill to swallow, but the only common denominator in interactions with others is you. If you keep putting out the same actions and not liking the results you are receiving in return, something has to change in that equation. The only actions you have power over are your own. We can’t make others change, no matter how mightily we might wish it. This is an unmovable truth.
Not everyone can see what needs to change in themselves, or even feel change is necessary. Sometimes we can see needed changes but we don’t know how to go about implementing them. Self work is HARD and an ongoing process. I am not counseling for you to become a fake version of yourself. Rather, I am counseling you to find new ways to interact with others. Ways that increase your chances of your desired outcome.
Research Social Interactions
Social awkwardness, anxiety, feeling uncertain how to interact with others, saying or doing the wrong thing can all lead to ghosting. So where to start? What do you do?
Treat interacting with others like a research assignment. One of my favorite places to do homework is psychology and behavioral videos on YouTube and reading articles. There is a wealth of information out there to help you get better at conversations and communication. The more time you take to get to know yourself and figure out how other humans tick, the better your chances of getting the outcomes you want.
Doing self work and trying to find out why your interactions with others are not going the way you wish doesn’t change the deep trauma and hurt that ghosting causes. That hurt will still be there and it is deeply unsettling. The pain is all too real. In a perfect world, ghosting would not happen and all of our communication with others would be effortless and fluid. We don’t live in a perfect world. But the more self work we put in, the better this world gets for all of us. The people that ghosted you freed up your time to invest in people that are a better fit for you. Your time is valuable. Treat it as such.
Keep it Kinky My Friends,
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