Ghosting – It’s Becoming The New Norm
Ghosting is when you go poof and literally disappear out of someone’s life without a word of explanation. It’s when a person completely cuts themselves off from another individual usually without letting them know why. Every now and then, someone will text the individual they have ghosted a couple weeks later explaining themselves, and if you’re lucky, an apology will be included. For the fortunately uninitiated, “ghosting” is when two people are friends, relatives or otherwise, and one of them disappears without giving an explanation of any kind.
I find the term interesting because if ghosts really do exist, aren’t they supposed to be bothering us via haunting and such. Obviously, both men and women can ghost. But anecdotal evidence suggests that guys may be guilty of this more often. Why? Fantastic question. There are a number of reasons. Most of them aren’t good ones, but such is life.
There are many many reasons, and it’s just an extension of the fact that some people are too immature or scared or whatever to let people know they aren’t interested. Even though all it takes is one text that says something like “we’ll catch up later”. That’s all you have to do to end things without completely disappearing. And yet…
This viewpoint does not apply in relationships that were abusive.
Now, your disappearing act is probably saying far more than you’re intending it to. For instance, when we don’t make eye contact or read facial expressions, it’s very difficult to know how our words and behaviours impact on someone. Looking into someone’s eyes can tell us if someone is a threat, if they are attracted to us, if they are lying, and gazing at each other is a predictor of love.
We loose all of these automatic inferences when we communicate through text, or worse, ghost. Psychologically, we’re abandoning someone, betraying their trust, and leaving them completely in the dark as to what happened.
Ghosting impacts our self-esteem and self-worth. It can lead to depression, which affects our sleep, appetite, concentration at work, and desire to be around friends. It can also cause anxiety in which we obsess and ruminate about what happened, feel on edge, and are filled with worry and insecurity. We spend hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months trying to piece together the mystery.
Ultimately, we have to stop ghosting because it does more harm in the long run because it has damaging consequences on our mental health and it ties up our emotional resources.
In my opinion, it’s better to be upfront about your feelings instead of just leaving the person your wanting to walk away from in a ball of confusion. And, especially if you were intimate with the person (physically or otherwise), you certainly owe them the courtesy to let them know, with your words, why you want to cut it off. Even if doing so makes you the bad guy for a second. But, plenty of people still won’t.
Sadly, we all have ghosting in us, and it’s becoming the new norm, some of us are just better at it than others.
A ghosting mentality is largely reinforced by our Social Media society that creates a sense of avoidance in direct communication. Typically, for many, if we don’t like something, we don’t confront it. Instead, we can easily hide behind our screen with our comments or avoid direct and real person-to-person communication altogether. You know the type, they avoid having an argument with you or any confrontation at all, and when they want to escape they just…well, they just disappear.
Avoiding confrontation is the biggest reason for ghosting. Many people want to avoid any emotional discomfort that comes from a break-up and they see ghosting as the perfect way to do that. They want to avoid in-person confrontation and passive withdrawal from this can seem like the easiest route out of the situation.
It’s true that some people can lack awareness when it comes to the correct way to end things in a relationship. They could also have seemingly nice intentions for ghosting someone. Perhaps they wanted to avoid inflicting pain on the other person, thinking that it would be kinder to not have to say anything hurtful. However being totally unaware that just disappearing could be perceived as more hurtful than anything else.
It is believed that those who display traits of narcissism are more likely to ghost someone as they lack the empathy needed to be aware of someones else’s emotional pain.
Technology can play a big role in ghosting, especially since the introduction of social media and dating apps, the whole societal landscape has changed. Once upon a time ghosting might have been more difficult, especially if you had similar social circles or friends in common. However, nowadays, you can block someone on your online profile social media account, certain that you may never come across them again.
If a person is prone to hiding behind their phone, it’s likely they wouldn’t see it as a huge deal if they did the same when they ended the relationship.
Ghosting has become a normal and almost expected form of wanting to move on without giving an explanation. People are more comfortable with cutting someone off digitally because they can hide behind an invisible wall formed through the electronic world, shielding them from any unwanted emotions which can arise from the ending of a relationship. Some individuals believe that by ghosting the person he or she is talking to, they do not have to hurt or embarrass them by bluntly saying, “I don’t want to talk anymore”.
Yes those words and phrases similar to it will undeniably hurt the individual being broken up with, but who are we kidding? Ignoring then with no explanation is even worse if you think about it. People need closure, no mater the duration of a relationship. Ghosting someone leaves him or her wondering what they did wrong.
To all the ghosters out there, I get it. You are most likely trying to spare the feelings of the individual being ghosted. But just F.Y.I, you aren’t. At least show him or her the bare minimum when it comes to respect and verbally end the relationship.
By Mathew James-Hoffmann
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