Ghosting is ruining our relationships, here is what to do about it.
Most of us by now have heard or had to use the expression “ghosting”. Ghosting is when someone in a relationship ends the relationship without explanation. There is no more communication, only silence from the ghosting person. They vanish like a ghost from the ghosted persons life.
People Ghost More Often Than Thought
Ghosting is more common than most people might think, due to the increase of technology as a tool in our relationships. Ghosting is a common reaction to uncomfortable feelings. The ghoster can stop responding and never have to face any consequence.
Ghosting is unlike radio silence, or the silent treatment, two methods often used to manipulate. Ghosting is traumatic, leading to mental health issues, damaged self esteem, and even problems in future relationships.
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Although ghosting is widespread, navigating it is still difficult. To identify the root cause of ghosting we sat down with our therapists and discussed a few critical aspects: how to deal with being ghosted, effective communication techniques to better cope with ghosting, and how to keep moving forward.
Why Do People Ghost?
“What did I do?” is the first question after being ghosted.
It’s important to remember ghosting says more about the person doing it, than vice versa. It’s often a displays of their lack or weakness of character. But unfortunately, this does not the difficult feelings go away or lessen the pain at all.
Try to think back to a time in which somebody last ghosted you. What happened? Did you say something to invite this sort of abnormal reaction?
Perhaps it was during a casual online dating situation or after a few dates. Maybe you were just getting to know the other person, and they dropped off the face of the earth. Or, it was a friend that was avoiding you after a difficult conversation.
The Person Ghosting Has Issues
Some people do not like to have emotional closeness or have issues with communication. These people tend to use ghosting to deal with difficult situations more often. Though people with uncomfortable feelings around conflict will not always be ghoster.
People spend a lot of time online, it’s not wonder it’s a common place to develop new relationships. This causes a lack of human connection and physical bonding, making it easier to ghost. Once the connection with someone feels over, the person disappears.
What Happens When We are Ghosted?
The act of being ghosted is damaging for everyone involved. The recipient is left feeling hurt, angry, rejected. But the person doing the ghosting is also left with difficult feelings, having to carry the guilt and shame of treating someone poorly.
The after effects can be very damaging. Both parties mistrust new relationships, reducing the opportunity for intimacy and authentic connection.
Ghosting Creates Unhealthy Relationship Habits
Lastly, the most important point is that ghosting creates unhealthy relationship habits. When conflict and uncomfortable feelings are bad, the common way to stop being ghosted is to keep things “perfect”.
This false sense of security in a relationship can lead to lying, deceit, and passive-aggressiveness. This makes building healthy relationships hard. It prevents building true friendships and leads to shallow connections.
How Technology Plays a Role in our Relationships
The integration of technology into our lives impacts how our relationships grow. From how we meet employers, to romantic partners. A dating app is a convenient way to form a new romantic relationship, but it is not without it’s faults. Dating apps often lead to troubling ways of handling social interactions.
The speed that we deliver and consume information has greatly increased. That same speed has become a standard for interacting with people – the cycle of relationships has sped up. The ability to quickly move from one romantic interest to another is a new phenomenon. Moving on has become a much faster interaction than what we have known before.
Feelings Can Be Difficult to Read
A person may feel they’ve found the right person, or a good romantic partner, after chatting for only a brief period of time. The feeling may not be mutual, and when a person has lost interest they may ghost the other person. Moving on often without explanation to avoid a seemingly difficult conversation. Out of sight, out of mind.
Technology has made it easier to move on from perceived sticky situations. Deleting text messages, locking social accounts, blocking people, it’s all quite easy. Our tech has allowed us a pass at confronting all sides of our lives.
Understanding the way that technology impacts our relationships is important. It offers us a chance to be more thoughtful about who and how we engage with others.
Why do we Avoid Conflict so much?
We all avoid conflict in one way or another, the simple reason is that conflict puts us on the spot. Conflict forces us to experience shame, embarrassment, hurt, sadness, and stress. The problem is that avoiding conflict is even worse.
Avoiding conflict reduces our ability to face the consequences of our behavior. We cannot learn how we affect others when we avoid their reactions. When we confront conflict, we have the chance to learn how to be empathetic, patient, generous, and thoughtful. All very important attributes to successful relationships.
Avoiding conflict also reinforces our social anxieties. Fearing being the bad guy, we don’t learn practical conflict resolution skills. Because of this we are not successful at problem-solving relationship problems. This hurts our friendships, families and professional lives at work.
How Can we Improve our Communication Skills?
Our natural reaction to conflict is to avoid it. Most of us are unwilling to feel uncomfortable. We don’t like dealing with the negative consequences of awkward or negative social interactions. A lot of us would prefer to lose a casual relationship than engage in a difficult conversation.
Humans are emotionally wired to avoid uncomfortable feelings. We’d rather choose happiness and ease over difficult situations. If that means that certain social interactions are delayed, then ghosting seems like the better of the two options.
Although we know that conflict is difficult, we must learn how to work through it. Take a look at what you can do to work through conflict instead of ignoring it or avoiding it.
- Stick to the facts. Try to separate what happened from how you felt about it.
- Use empathy to try to put yourself in other’s shoes.
- Before moving on to conflict resolution, ask questions so that you have all the information
- Paraphrase what the person is saying to ensure that you have captured their perspective and show them that you are listening.
- Listen deeply without planning your rebuttal.
- Do not interrupt; offer the person time to express themselves.
- Soften body language by leaving your arms and legs uncrossed; try to smile and engage in eye contact as much as possible.
- Suspend your judgment. Offer space for a conversation about information instead of who is right.
- Speak when you have enough time to talk without interruptions.
- Make sure that you are in a safe area where both parties will be comfortable to be open and honest
Identify the Conflict and Brainstorm:
- The goal should be to agree on what the problem is.
- Discuss different solutions.
- Leave space for points that need more time for resolution.
Identify Common Objectives:
- Collaborate to identify commonality versus opposition. This step eases tension and offers a positive connection. Focusing on the problem helps to reduce personal attacks
Read More about How to Productively Communicate your Feelings
To learn more read our “Guide to Productively Communicating your feelings.“
So, How to Deal With Being Ghosted?
Were you ghosted? Here’s what to do:
- Do not chase the person ghosting. Resist the temptation to troll them on the internet. They have shown you that they cannot share in a healthy relationship, it’s healthier to move on.
- Please know that there is nothing wrong with you. It may be easy to assume that you did something wrong. Nobody is perfect, but we all deserve respect. It’s normal to have a conversation during breakups, misunderstandings, and differences of opinion.
- Say what you need, and move on. If you can’t let it go and you have a chance to talk to the person, say what you need to say, but move on.
- Take self-care steps. Get enough sleep, spend more time with a close friend or family member. Make a conscious effort to engage in healthy activities. Do things you associate with feeling good.
- Consider avoiding dating apps. Try meeting people offline, for example through a mutual friend.
Avoid becoming a ghost yourself. Practice direct and compassionate communication, reaching out to friends for advice. If you feel like there is no hope consider taking a course on conflict resolution. A session with a licensed psychologist can also help. Taking these steps can help you feel good and get on track.
Working with a life coach is a great way to learn effective communication and conflict resolution. If you are looking for a therapist or life coach, our experienced staff are here to help. For more information, please contact us.