Ghosting is every single person’s worst dating nightmare — but you don’t have to let it dissuade you from finding a love connection.
If you have to ask what “ghosting” is, chances are you’ve never been on the receiving end of… well, the absence of a phone call from someone you’re dating who is no longer interested in continuing the relationship. Rather than confront a person they’ve shared drinks, dinner or even months of intimacy with, the person who ghosts takes the easy way out — by simply vanishing into thin air and hoping he/she never meets that person in a grocery store or on the subway every again (awkward).
So why does ghosting seem to be a modern phenomenon that makes your mother scratch her head and thank her lucky stars she has been married for 40 years?
“Ghosting is a weird new trend born of the combination of dating and modern technology,” says Noelle Cordeaux, a feminist coach and sexologist who specializes in the relationship with the self. “People have access to others who are not normally in their social or communal sphere and so suddenly disappearing comes with little to no consequence. And one of the realities of modern dating is a seemingly endless number of choices and opportunities to meet ‘the one.’ People often look for superficial cues rather than getting to know a person or use a multitude of choices as an excuse to hop around based on passing fancy.”
So, we can all agree that ghosting sucks and a ghost should recognize the error of his cowardly ways asap — but that isn’t going to change the fact that it happens. And when it happens, you need to know how to proceed without losing your mind or showing up at his house in the middle of the night to take his head on a platter.
How you should handle being ghosted depends a lot on the nature of your relationship with the person, says matchmaking and dating expert Stef Safran, owner of Stef and the City. “Since we date so much these days; you have to put your experiences into perspective,” Safran says. As a general guideline, Safran suggests the following:
If you never meet the person and spend weeks or months having a phone or textual relationship — it may just be that you took the ‘relationship’ much more seriously than they did, Safran says. Her advice is to “cut your losses” and “realize that you need to make better choices in the future; meeting and spending time with someone is more important that quality time through a cell phone.”
If you only go on a few dates and someone “ghosts” on you — Sorry, but the same rules apply, even if you’re super into the person, Safran says. “You don’t know someone that well after spending only ‘fun’ time (real life has job stress, life stress, etc.) and it probably shows more of their character and you should just move on to someone new.”
If you actually invested in someone where you met their friends, family and were intimately involved with them — Oh boy, this one gets tricky, and it’s the situation that is going to cause you the greatest deal of pain because ghosting in a long-term relationship is a form of betrayal. “It might be best to get some closure for you,” Safran says. “One thing people have to realize is to take a non-defensive approach, or the person may just ghost on them even when they’ve promised to meet to talk. The less confronted someone feels, the better the chance you have to get some answers that you deserve.”
Getting ghosted doesn’t just make you question your ghost and all relationships and modern dating, it can wreak havoc on your self-esteem, something Cordeaux urges you not let happen. She lists five steps you should take the minute you suspect you’ve been ghosted — for the sake of your own sanity.
1. Confirm that this is indeed what happened — “I had a friend in college who went to jail for three days due to credit card debt and didn’t tell anyone because she was embarrassed,” Cordeaux says. “It turned out to be much more embarrassing for her when everyone thought she was dead.”
2. Immediately stop all communication — “Delete, delete, delete,” she says, “This person is not worth your time.”
3. Don’t blame yourself — “Someone else’s issues are not your problem.”
4. Self-care — “Treat yourself the way that you want to be treated,” Cordeaux says. “A solo date and a trip to the spa might be in order.”
5. Hold your head high — “Someone who is capable of such avoidant and hurtful behavior is likely not ready for a mature and equitable relationship,” she says.
In other words: You may be better off being ghosted now than learning later on that this person isn’t worthy of your energy, time and love.