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Ghosting: consequences and solutions

As we discussed in a previous article, ghosting is becoming a very common practice in today’s relationships. Especially in affective relationships, which involve emotions beyond friendship and more informal relationships.

To recall, ghosting is the name given to the practice of disappearing from someone’s life without giving the slightest explanation in different ways: not answering messages and calls, not being interested in the other person again or ignoring the other person’s signs of affection. In short, nipping all contact in the bud. Although little is said about it, this can have emotional consequences for the person who suffers or has suffered from it, who also tends to carry it in silence, trying to pretend to be indifferent to it.

Why is ghosting so harmful and what consequences does it have on the person who suffers it?

The truth is that it is an obvious answer: you have an illusion of meeting someone and suddenly, without warning, it is taken away from you. In addition, you tend to wonder what happened, what you did wrong. You have not done anything wrong, you have not burdened anyone, it is the other person who has done wrong with you. The consequences of this phenomenon are:

  1. You tend to make false internal attributions. This means that you blame yourself for what has been done to you and that it is justified, and that these attributions are wrong in the sense that you cannot verify them. For example, having thoughts like «I’m sure that when I made this joke he didn’t like it», «I talk too much», «I’m too boring», «I’m ugly» «I have bad breath»
  2. You feel rejected. This is related to the above, since feeling rejected can damage our self-esteem and the concept we have of ourselves.
  3. It makes it difficult to grieve. As nobody has explained anything to you, as nobody has told you that it´s over and as you have been left with the uncertainty of whether he/she will show signs of life again or not, all this makes it much more complicated to turn the page.
  4. You worry. In the absence of these signs of life you may think that something has happened to the other person, which increases your worries and becomes a source of stress.

What can you do about ghosting?

The best way to prevent the emotional consequences of ghosting is to stop for a moment and restructure your mind until you are clear about the following:

  1. How others treat you does not define you. Let go of the attributions against you. What defines a person is their actions and the reality here is that you have come up against someone who does not take into account your feelings.
  2. Someone who doesn’t take your emotions into account doesn’t deserve you. If that person has already shown you that he/she is not going to take your feelings into consideration, why spend more time and worry about him/her, do you want someone like that in your life?

Finally, we would like to emphasize that if you are or were in a relationship in which you have been shown love, affection and commitment and overnight the person disappears, this would not be called ghosting, it is called abandonment and whoever abandons you is not having consideration for you either. In the last decades, we are insisting on giving new names, mostly derived from English, to practices that are bad treatment. Examples are ghosting, but also ‘gaslighting’ (not talking to someone as a punishment for something you don’t like them to do), ‘bodyshaming’ (shaming someone for their body), and so on. It seems that giving it another name makes lighter something that is very serious.

It is important to be clear about this, as it will help you identify signs that you are in a toxic relationship and should stay away from it.

By UPAD Psicología y Coaching


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