Ghosting might be worse than face-to-face rejection as it doesn’t allow for closure. Ghosting happens in friendships, but it’s more common in relationships. When someone you care about abruptly ignores you, it hurts.
Part of why it bothers us so much is that it feels abrupt, and our brains are wired to seek out answers. We’re also hardwired to attach and find rejection agonizing. Unfortunately for your mental health, rejection can generate obsessive thinking and compulsive activity, which fuels sorrow and questions.
Ghosting might begin with unanswered texts or calls or long silences between replies. Here are eight reasons people ghost instead of communicating.
It’s an effort to reduce conflict: Leaving without saying goodbye is harsh, but it may be the only way they know how to handle the situation, especially if they do everything possible to avoid conflict. Unfortunately, not everyone is skilled in communication or understands that you can have a conversation in a difficult situation without it leading to aggressive conflict.
They may have their own self-esteem issues: People with poor self-esteem may ghost to avoid judgment and shame. Their communication is their responsibility, not yours. You deserve an honest explanation if they stop a relationship. In striving to escape false accountability, they don’t take responsibility for their own behavior, causing you unnecessary suffering.
Ghosting is a part of their game: Some people, especially narcissists, need to feed their own egos. Relationships are a game for them. When they’re no longer engaged, they can act callously, especially if you communicate requirements or expectations.
They may be dealing with their own mental health issues: Depression can be overwhelming. In some instances, it is easier to avoid and withdraw from everything rather than continue on.
They may need a clean break from you: It’s important to understand that you might be the cause of the ghosting. Consider your actions. If you’ve bothered and smothered your friend with messages or calls, especially if they’ve requested you not to, their silence is a statement that you’ve ignored their boundaries.
What to do if You’ve Been Ghosted
In many instances, the ghosting behavior reflects on the ghost, not you. If you find that you inadvertently triggered the behavior, admitting that and striving to do better is half the battle. Consider the following in order to process and move past the ghosting behavior:
Accept the end of the relationship: The other person has moved on. Acceptance is more vital than understanding.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions: You can’t guess the ghost’s motives. Allow yourself to feel sadness and fury without shame. Grieve freely. Continuing to wonder why, though, will only prolong the processing.
Stop self-blaming: Rejection hurts, but you don’t need further misery. Don’t blame yourself or let negative behavior lower your self-esteem even if you had a part in why they ghosted you. Learn from the mistake and move on.
Don’t isolate yourself: Plan activities with friends. Socialize and do other activities you enjoy if you need a break from dating. And whatever you do, don’t jump right back into a relationship.