How To Handle Being Ghosted
Halloween is long gone, but the mysterious and heart-breaking occurrence known as "ghosting" happens all year round—even after the scary movie marathons end.
But what is ghosting? Essentially, ghosting is when a person you've been dating suddenly disappears off the face of the earth. And even though you might think that technology would make it harder for someone you're seeing to vanish without any explanation, well, it doesn't.
"I see this all the time with my clients," says relationship expert Rachel Sussman, L.C.S.W., author of The Breakup Bible. But that doesn't make it any less painful when that cute catch you've gone on multiple dates with doesn't reply to your texts—even though you can see that they opened them (thanks, iPhone). We asked Sussman why this happens in the first place and how you can keep a ghosting experience from haunting you.
WHY GHOSTING IS A THING
Technology might actually be what's making M.I.A. men and women more prevalent, says Sussman. Before Tinder or even online dating, people's friends or someone they knew would often set them up. That meant that if things didn't go well, you would have to be straight up with your date. Otherwise, things between you and the friend who set you up could get pretty awkward, says Sussman. But now that more of us are dating people we have no mutual friends with, it's easier to bail without warning when you're not that into it, says Sussman.
AND WHY IT HURTS WHEN IT HAPPENS
Any breakup can make you feel upset, but when someone just disappears, you're left wondering what on earth just happened. If you don't have a tangible reason as to why they don't want to see you any more, you tend to overthink everything you did, says Sussman. And when you can't stop replaying your dates over and over to try and figure out where you went wrong, it makes it even harder to get over someone, she says. Suddenly, that relatively casual fling is causing you long-term-breakup-level pain and confusion.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'VE BEEN GHOSTED
Instead of beating yourself up about all the reasons why they would just ditch all communication with you, try to be thankful that the relationship didn't go any further, says Sussman. That's because people who disappear without a trace are probably afraid of confrontation, are insecure and have a lot of trouble articulating their feelings, she says. In other words, you dodged a bullet, my friend. "Know that if you were in a relationship with that person and there was a problem, they would probably handle it in the same way," she says.
That being said, you might feel the urge to reach out to them to see what's going on. It's possible something bad actually happened or maybe they thought you weren't into them. After you first notice that they've been M.I.A., wait a week before reaching out. Then, tell them that you hope everything is okay and that you'd like to see them again if they're up for it, says Sussman. If you don't hear from them within four days, drop it and move on, she says. "If they have any interest in you at all, they'll respond pretty quickly."
Once you've established that they clearly are not relationship material, it's important that you give yourself a little bit of an ego boost, says Sussman. You need to realise that you are not the first or the last person this happens to, and you're still fabulous. Then get back out there.
AND IF THEY COME BACK LATER?
If your ghost eventually reappears, make sure they come bearing a sincere apology. It should probably sound something like, "I'm sorry, I was going through a hard time, but I really like you. I'd like a do-over," says Sussman. However, you should still be cautious about getting into a serious relationship with them since you know that they have a tendency to go AWOL. Oh, and if they contact you with a, "Hey, what's up?" they're either bored or looking for a booty call, she says. Just say no.