You meet a man online, and after a few emails, you exchange digits. Your first phone conversation lasts three hours, and the next morning he sends you a “hey beautiful” text message. Over the next week, you FaceTime every night, and he just pours on the compliments, even though your hair isn’t done and you don’t have on any makeup. You pencil in plans Sunday afternoon for your first in-person date, but when the time comes for you to meet up, he doesn’t call to tell you where to meet.
You call him, and it goes straight to voicemail.
You text, and you can see he read it, but he doesn’t respond.
You never hear from him again.
You’ve just experienced the dating phenomenon called ghosting. Ghosting means someone you’ve been involved with just disappears without a trace, leaving you to figure out what happened. This is a modern trend (and some would say, an epidemic!), which is likely more commonplace due to the prevalence of texting, online dating sites and apps. It’s easier to dehumanize someone when you’re only interacting with their profiles, pictures and smartphones.
Ghosting is a painful experience both men and women go through and it can happen at any stage of a relationship. You’re left with questions like, “What’s wrong with me? Am I lovable? Am I attractive? Did I do or say something wrong?” Essentially, you are left to figure out on your own why he or she doesn’t want to see you anymore.
Because you don’t have any real closure, this can have a real impact on your emotional health and self-esteem—and even can create baggage for the next relationship. But I don’t want you to take the blame for the other person’s rude behavior. So you can heal faster and move on quicker, I want to give you some tools to handle being ghosted at various stages of a relationship.
The person who goes ghost on you doesn’t have what it takes to meet your emotional needs and wouldn’t be a great partner for you anyway.
You had a great first date and he said, “We should do this again sometime. I’ll call you!” He never does.
You’re probably feeling rejected and confused. What you should know is this man probably has more women he is currently dating. He figured you’d just get the hint if he didn’t call. He wasn’t interested, and he didn’t want to face the disappointment you’d express if he’d said, “Thanks for the coffee date, but I don’t want to see you again.”
What you can do: Tell yourself that it was just a first date. Don’t consider this first date a failed first impression on your part. You haven’t known him long enough to even weigh who else he is auditioning and what exact girlfriend role he’s casting for. So, don’t even bother racking your brain for an explanation. This man’s lack of consideration and inability to be honest and straightforward with you says a lot more about him than it does about you.
You’ve been dating for a few weeks and just talked about becoming exclusive. “POOF!” he’s gone.
You thought this was really going somewhere, so you’re probably feeling a lot of anxiety and anger. You can’t believe he’d just disappear like that, so you send him text messages and voicemails, asking him to just reply to make sure he’s okay. Now you go back to the dating site only to see if he’s been active. Yup! He just logged on 24 hours ago. You start to question your attractiveness and whether or not you can trust a man.
What you can do: This man may have been keeping you as a placeholder until he figures out if he wants to be with someone else. Or he withdrew instead of properly telling you he needed time to process if he was ready for the next steps. You might get a text from him in a few days, acting like nothing has happened. If that’s the case, be straightforward with him. Tell him you’re upset and you need the person you’re dating to be reliable and consistent. If he makes things right, you can move forward with him (cautiously). If he gets defensive or makes invalid excuses, it’s time to move on.
You’ve been together for six months or longer and had plans for the future. The day before he disappeared, he said, “I love you, talk to you tomorrow.” You never hear from him again.
Your pain is on level 10! Sadness, rejection, confusion, anger and anxiety all flood you at the same time. You feel like he abandoned you—lied to you even. Yet, you’re doing everything in your power to regain your closeness with him. You email, text, call, show up to his job, and you feel like everything is just going into a black hole. In it all, you constantly ask yourself, Why did this happen?
What you can do: Six months is a long time to walk away with no explanation. You don’t know if you did something to cause the breakup or if he was lying to you the entire time. To deal with being ghosted in a relationship, you’ll have to give yourself the closure you need.
Write two letters:
The first one is a letter of disappointment. Pretend your sadness is a person and write from the perspective of your sadness. Let that person write to you, detailing the situation. What is it telling you? Did you ignore the signs? Did you deserve better? Let all the emotions flow freely.
The second letter is an angry letter. Direct it to your ghosting boyfriend and don’t hold back. Say everything you didn’t get a chance to say to him. Repeat this process until you come to a place of peace about the whole relationship.
Ghosting in dating is so painful because the other person didn’t have the decency to be honest with you. This lack of responsibility for your feelings leaves you questioning yourself, instead of the other person. But don’t assume blame when it was never assigned to you. Know you can move forward with your head held high when you remember this: Ghosting isn’t about you or your worthiness for love. The person who goes ghost on you doesn’t have what it takes to meet your emotional needs and wouldn’t be a great partner for you anyway.
BMWK: Have you ever been ghosted on? How did you deal with it?