Ghost Busting

By Emma Jepsen
Copyright: Søren Jepsen via. Vogue, Tony Katai via. Pinterest
Image caption Copyright: Søren Jepsen via. Vogue, Tony Katai via. Pinterest

DEAR SHE, I’ve been ghosted by a guy I really like. We’ve only been on a few dates, and all of them went well; He suddenly just started texting less and isn’t initiating anything. I feel really hurt, what do I do?

Ghosting isn’t something new, but it has become an all too normalised concept; everyone either is a ghost or has been ghosted. And why not; Confrontation is scary and uncomfortable for everyone involved – what is the point of putting both parties through that when it is easier to just disappear and never have to deal with it again.

In 2016, the dating site Plenty of Fish found in a survey out of 800 users, 78% of singles aged 18 to 33 have been ghosted at least once; It was also found that 75% of millennials use the dating app because they are looking for a relationship, meanwhile 50% said that they are just looking for a hook-up.

Katrine, 21, had been on a few dates with a guy she had met off of Tinder, “He started to slowly stop responding to my messages. He wasn’t very good at ghosting actually.” Frustrated with the situation, and upset with the treatment. “I thought it was really unfair – the feeling of not being romantically interested was mutual, but I really liked him as a person and would have liked to stay in contact. His treatment of it was immature and hurtful… I ended up texting him that I thought he was a nice person, but that I thought it was unfair of him to ignore me – I wanted to be adults about it. We aren’t in high school anymore.” The feeling of relief from contacting him and standing up for her worth was huge – “I no longer felt ashamed, hurt, or frustrated. I actually felt really relieved!”

F. Diane Barth, author of “I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women’s Lives” explains that when you have been ghosted, there is often a feeling of shame, isolation, and hurt. This is the brain’s natural reaction when someone “interrupts us in the middle of doing something we are enjoying… your psyche is trying to undo the sense of disruption of the good feeling. Shame is a reaction to having a circuit in your emotional system cut”.

Caitlin, 19 was known to ghost. At the time she felt that it was the easiest way out of dating someone she wasn’t interested in anymore. “I felt it let them know that I wasn’t interested without having to actually let them know – it basically avoided a difficult conversation.” Often, she explains, it can be boiled down to circumstance as well. On dating apps, it would be acceptable because everyone is messaging someone else anyway – so what did it matter? And from previous treatment, it was assumed that it was an okay response.

However, ghosting will always be easier than being the ghosted – “I was really excited about this guy, and I knew that it was unrealistic, but I was still really invested in it. He just stopped replying one day and I took it really badly – I would rather just be told that he wasn’t feeling it than to be left guessing why.”

In any hurtful situation, you need closure, being ghosted works the same way. If you can’t get the closure you need, you can at the very least provide the opportunity for it; if you reach out to ask about their sudden disappearance and they don’t offer an explanation, then you have done everything thing you could possibly do.

“The circumstances of ghosting aren’t always black or white, or right or wrong.” Caitlin says, and I optimistically agree. Often, there might not be a real reason other than they weren’t feeling it, but often it’s just the opposite. You won’t know if you don’t attempt to get an answer, and even just that can be closure enough.

So go on, and bust a ghost.

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