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A Comprehensive Guide to Ghosting

Modern problems require modern solutions and ghosting seems to be shining brighter than ever in this modern world. Do you have a difficult conversation that you don't know how to handle? Do you not know how to reject someone? Are you afraid of commitments and only here for a good time, not a long time? Don't worry, because instead of facing these fears, ghosting can be your rescue!

Ghosting is the act of cutting off all communication with someone completely without any reason or justification given. In today’s world, ghosting has shifted largely to digital and online platforms. When you text someone and they don’t reply for hours and by extension, days - consider yourself ghosted. Some believe that no reply for 3 days officially means ghosting, others say it’s 24 hours. There is no fixed time but when you start feeling uncomfortable with the amount of time someone takes in replying without much reason - you should make it official.

The Biggest Question- Why?

An acquaintance got ghosted by their date who they found on a dating app. Another person, a friend, got ghosted by a long-term school friend when they moved to different colleges. The first question both these people asked themselves was, ‘Why?’ The intensity of this question in a ghosting experience cannot be expressed through words.

Let’s face it, a lot of relationships in our lives become weary over time and may start weighing on us. In such situations, ending a relationship becomes necessary. However, it’s not about ending a relationship but rather about how one does it.

Counselling psychologist Dr Jennice Vilhauer says “A lot of people anticipate that talking about how they feel is going to be a confrontation. That mental expectation makes people want to avoid things that make them uncomfortable.” Thus, we can say that ghosting comes as an escape for a person who wants to avoid an uncomfortable or difficult confrontation. Whether you left the other person because you had a lot going on, whether you found someone better than them or just that the relationship became redundant, ghosting has many reasons.

Why does ghosting hurt like a backstab?

For the person who is ghosted, it’s always challenging to deal with the situation because there was no apparent end. There are questions that are never answered which if not dealt with properly, turn into a hurricane of emotional destruction. It is tough to be vulnerable and trust someone and not even receive an answer in return.

Research from the University of Michigan shows that rejection stimulates the same response in the body as that of physical pain. Ghosting is worse because it is rejection where things are not even communicated. It may lead them to question everything they had trusted, especially in long-term relationships. As an after-effect, such people may struggle with trust issues, abandonment issues and self-esteem issues.

For the ghoster, not having resolved issues and communicating things may stress them out over a period of time, especially if the relationship meant something to them. There are usually regrets and guilt on the part of the person who ghosted.

All things considered, we kind of get it

We all have, at some point, been on both sides of the ghosting experience. Sometimes it is so small and insignificant that it’s not even noticed. Ghosting is not always this evil deed that leaves everyone in despair. Imagine going on a date with someone and right after, the person starts texting you incessantly. You want to take things slow and the other person is diving in deep waters despite you telling them otherwise. In this case, ghosting seems to be more than necessary. Nobody is allowed to be a creep! If someone seems to be crossing a line that makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to ghost them.

While we expect mature conversation from someone who has ghosted us, it is also important to understand that sometimes, things are really bad on the other side which cannot be seen. People may be going through a loss, some may be experiencing tough times or some other atrocity. In such situations, it is understandable if someone has ghosted you.

This doesn’t mean that it was justified - that is for you to determine. Don’t let it be used as an excuse. It is still somewhat expected of the other person to communicate about their situation if you have been in a strong relationship. Again, it is on you to understand, empathize and give the other person some space respectfully if communicated.

Why is ghosting on the rise?

Ghosting is now becoming somewhat of a trend - courtesy of social media and Covid-19. In the two dreadful years of Covid, everything went online including relationships. Even people living in the same household were forced to communicate that way.

There is a safety net that comes with online communication. Something about not physically being present with the other person makes communication hindered as well as convenient in some cases.

Moreover, with the advent of social media, it takes two minutes to block someone, delete their number and move on - only if human emotions were that simple! When the ready-to-use ghosting option is available, why bother telling the other person about your concerns and feelings? When you know there is little to no chance of you seeing them again, it is very easy to ghost someone.

How do I avoid getting ghosted?

There is no sure-shot way of telling if you’ll be ghosted by someone or not. However, you can make sure you confront a ghoster about the situation. It doesn’t hurt to send a text and ask for a reason. Ghosters may also start showing red flags before really ghosting - change in priorities, communication patterns and not opening up may seem dicey and may be a good time to confront a person before they officially ghost you.

In an interview with The Red Megaphone, an interviewee told us about her experience. She told us that she developed feelings for a close friend after confessing her feelings for him, she was told that he was not interested in her but they could remain friends. After a while, he started ignoring her, stopped talking to her as frequently and ultimately, just blocked her on social media one day.

Since you can never tell if a ghoster will be back or their reason for ghosting you, it is best to go easy on yourself and accept an ending. If need be, you can always consult a professional or a counsellor if things seem to be taking an uncontrollable toll on you. And remember, you are never alone!

For the dearest ghoster, maybe it’s high time that you face some fears - not for anyone else but for yourself. As our interviewee sends a message to her ghoster, “Try being more original, don’t be a pretend.” Learning to have a mature conversation is a prerequisite for adult life and confronting your fears or issues is only going to help you. Let’s try and create a mentally healthier GenZ.

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