Feeling left in the dark, wondering where did they disappear all of a sudden? Learn how to get closure when someone ghosts you, and move on with your life.
Ghosting creates an unfinished script. You think they’ll get back to you as soon as they stop being busy, but they never do. How do you get closure when someone ghosts you?
Today, dating apps have gamified relationships and social media has “easified” rejection via slow fading, benching, breadcrumbing, haunting, and ghosting.
The term “ghosting” originates from the noun ghost and means becoming a “ghost” in a relationship.
- Ghoster = the one who breaks the communication (the initiator of the ghosting process)
- Ghostee = the one who’s expectedly abandoned (the non-initiator in the ghosting process)
The ghoster expects to be treated as if they no longer exist in the relationship, having disappeared into thin air, like Poof!
While the ghostee is left expecting a closure to reduce the uncertainty of the relationship’s future.
How to get closure when someone ghosts you, and move on?
Ghosting is silent rejection. Ghosters may feel guilty, but ghostees most often feel mental pain out of the uncertainty that often makes them blame themselves.
Here are some ways to move on when you’ve been ghosted:
1. Reach out for closure.
To get closure when you feel you’ve been ghosted, reach out to them.
Ask them directly for a closure conversation, sending a message like:
- “I’ve noticed we haven’t been in touch lately. If you’ve decided to end our relationship, I’d appreciate a conversation for closure.”
- “Hey, it seems like we haven’t connected in a while. If you’ve decided to move on, could we have a chat about it? I think it would help both of us find closure.”
- “Hi, I’ve noticed that our communication has dropped off recently. If you’ve chosen to end things, I think it would be beneficial for us to have a conversation about it. It would help me understand and find closure.”
If you don’t receive a response or don’t feel comfortable sending another message, it’s time to focus on moving forward.
2. Don’t make it about you.
Shift the focus away from “you” and onto “them” since they ghosted you. Remind yourself, this is about them, not you.
Sherry Turkle, a professor from MIT, says:
“Ghosting has serious consequences, because when they treat us as if we could be ignored, we begin to think that this is fine, and we treat ourselves as people who don’t have feelings. And at the same time, we treat others as people who have no feelings in this context, so empathy begins to disappear.”
3. Don’t blame yourself.
When you’re ghosted, it’s easy to start questioning yourself and what you could have done differently. This self-blame often stems from trying to make sense of the sudden end of the relationship.
Ghostees often internalize the breakup and induce self-blame to reduce the ambiguity and uncertainty of the relationship’s status, since that is the only information they get.
However, understand that ghosting says more about the person who ghosts than the one who gets ghosted.
It’s a reflection of their inability to handle difficult conversations or confrontations, not a reflection of your worth or desirability.
Instead of blaming yourself, try to view the situation from a broader perspective.
- “What’s wrong with me?” Nothing, absolutely nothing.
- “What did I do to deserve this?” Nothing you did makes you deserve the ghosting.
- “What did I do to bring this on me?” Nothing, because what they did was what they chose and wanted. You cannot control their choices or actions.
Ghosting is a common occurrence in today’s digital dating world, and it’s often not personal. It’s about them and their issues, not you and your worth.
No one is permanently promised a relationship in this life.
So, don’t let a ghosting experience shake your sense of self-worth. You are deserving of respect, kindness, and open communication in a relationship.
4. Create your own closure.
Learn from what happened and set boundaries for future relationships. This could mean setting standards for communication and respect in your future interactions.
Consider blocking them on all social media platforms, email, and messaging services. This step can help you avoid any reminders or unexpected contact that could reopen old wounds.
Accept the end of the relationship. Acceptance is a crucial part of moving on to a happier life.
Remember, it’s okay to feel hurt, but don’t let this experience define you. Use it as a stepping stone to grow and strengthen your emotional resilience.
Learn especially what you would do to recover from the loss when it happens the next time. Learn what to avoid the next time around.
You might tell yourself, “They made their choice. That’s where it ends.”
That ↟ is your closure.
5. Stop wasting your energy.
A rejection without an explanation doesn’t pass judgment on your character or your nature. It just marks a decision made by an immature person.
Stop spending time and mental energy wondering, “Why did I become the victim of their rejection?” or “Why I couldn’t read their intention?”
So, do not waste any more of your time trying to overanalyze and ruminate the past events. Move on, instead.
Learn especially what you would do to recover from the loss when it happens the next time. Learn what to avoid the next time around
6. Spend time with family and friends.
Social support plays a crucial role in healing after a breakup.
Surrounding yourself with loved ones can provide a comforting environment where you can express your feelings and thoughts.
Family and friends can offer a fresh perspective and remind you of your worth when you’re feeling down.
They can also help distract you with fun activities and engaging conversations, which can be a great way to start moving on.
Moreover, spending time with friends and other people who care about you can boost your mood and self-esteem. It’s a reminder that you’re valued and loved, which can be incredibly healing during this time.
As Frazier & Cook (1993) found, social support has a positive correlation with recovery after breakups.
7. Avoid revenge relationships and breadcrumbing.
Avoid jumping into a new relationship out of spite or to make your ex-partner jealous.
These revenge relationships often lack genuine feelings and can lead to more hurt in the long run.
Similarly, beware of breadcrumbing.
Breadcrumbing is sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (“breadcrumbs”) to lure a sexual partner without spending much effort.
It’s a shrewd way to enjoy the attention without giving out that you have no intention to commit.
Both revenge relationships and breadcrumbing can prolong your healing process and lead to more confusion and pain. Instead, focus on healing and growing from your experience.
When you’re ready, you’ll find a relationship that offers mutual respect, effort, and commitment.
It’s okay to take your time and prioritize your emotional well-being.
8. Increase your self-care and seek professional help.
Self-care is vital during this time.
Engage yourself in activities that bring you joy, make you laugh, and ignite your passion.
Read a good book, go for a run, or try a new hobby – these activities can help shift your focus and bring positivity into your life.
Self-reflection is also a powerful tool. It can help you understand your feelings, identify what you want in a future relationship, and learn from the experience.
Feel okay asking for help. You’re not alone in this, and resources are available to support you through this challenging time.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re finding it hard to cope.
Therapists and counselors are trained to help you navigate through difficult emotions and can provide strategies to handle the situation better.
What is “ghosting”, in brief?
Ghosting can be defined as “the unilateral dissolution process of ceasing communication through media” (LeFebvre & Fan, 2020). It is a sudden breaking off of all communication with an intimate person, expecting them to understand it as an intention to cut ties with them. It is typically unilateral, without prior notice, and a noncommittal way to end a relationship. Ghosting can occur at any point in a relationship.
How many types of ghosting are there?
There can be two types of ghosting:
Love-Bomb Ghosting or Mosting: A sudden shift from intense affection to complete silence is called Love Bomb Ghosting or Mosting.
Love-bombing is when someone showers you with love and affection, making you feel special and wanted. They might say things like “I’ve never felt this way before” or “You’re the one for me”.
But then, without any hint or explanation, they disappear from your life. They stop responding to your messages and calls, leaving you confused and hurt.
Submarining or Zombie-ing: An act of disappearing and then coming back as if from the dead is referred to as Submarining or Zombie-ing.
This is when someone you’ve been dating or talking to disappears without a trace, only to resurface after a period of time as if nothing happened. They might pop back into your life with a casual text or social media interaction, acting like they didn’t just vanish.
Why do some people choose to ghost?
Some reasons why people ghost are:
Easy Way to Avoid Awkwardness: They have commitment issues with ghosting is the easy route to avoid the awkwardness of saying so. LeFebvre (2017) thinks that “people do it because it is a quick easy way out rather than taking the time to meet with someone face-to-face, and have a conversation that would probably be pretty awkward.”
Other Options or Better Options: Sometimes people ghost because they’ve found someone else they’re more interested in. Instead of being upfront about it, they choose to disappear, leaving the other person in the dark. They might think it’s easier to move on to the new person without having a tough conversation about why they’re ending things.
Overload & Fatigue to Handle The Relationship: Relationships require effort and emotional investment. Some people might feel overwhelmed by the demands of a relationship, leading them to ghost. They might be dealing with personal issues or stress, and feel they can’t handle the added pressure of a relationship. Instead of communicating this, they choose to vanish.
Fear of The Other Person’s Reaction to Rejection: Rejecting someone can be hard, especially if you’re worried about how they’ll react. Some people might fear confrontation or hurting the other person’s feelings. In these cases, they might find it easier to ghost than to face potential conflict or emotional reactions.
Embarrassment To Break Off Directly: Sometimes, people might feel embarrassed or guilty about ending a relationship. They might worry about causing pain or appearing as the “bad guy”. To avoid these uncomfortable feelings, they choose to ghost, avoiding the direct conversation that comes with a breakup.
You Deserve To Be Ghosted: The hard truth is, “It’s not me; it’s definitely you,” said Leah E. LeFebvre (2017). You may deserve to be ghosted if you initiated the relationship to get your “narcissistic supply,” if you are toxic and sociopathic, or are already married or committed without any intention to take things further.
What are the signs you’re being “slow-ghosted”?
Most acts of ghosting do not give out any clues or hints in advance. However, these are the likely signs that you are being “slow-ghosted” or gradually ghosted:
– They rarely respond to your texts or calls.
– They do not follow through on their word or promises.
– They regularly bail out on plans to spend time together.
– They have stopped your entry into their inner circle of friends or family.
– They don’t like to share personal information, or have shallow conversations.
– Your gut instinct suspects something about their future plans with the relationship is off.
Is ghosting becoming an acceptable behavior?
Yes, ghosting is increasingly seen as an acceptable dating behavior these days, and many Gen Z’ers think that ghosting is normal. However, ghosting is more widely acceptable in situations when the other person is being abusive or disrespectful.
Of course, ghosting is a valid way to end an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist.
Some psychologists label ghosting as a form of psychological abuse. Some others see it as the default behavior of the conflict-avoidant, conflict-adverse, and non-assertive anxious-avoidant person.
Some prudes hold that ghosting is a cowardly way to break up and that ghosters are unempathetic, self-absorbed, and self-centered people.
Meanwhile, the modern generation (Gen Z) people feel ghosting is an acceptable behavior. They believe that it spares both sides the effort and time of having to explain and manage emotional responses.
Some of them also feel that the ghosted person shouldn’t give more than two weeks (or two days, or even two eff’s) of no communication to conclude that the ghoster wants to end things.
They simply don’t care enough about them to follow Battaglia’s 16-step script for relationship dissolution, and that’s the terse truth of our times.
Interestingly, in 2017, Charlize Theron cut off all communication with Sean Penn, refusing to answer any of his attempts to reach her, after being together for four years. But Theron denied that she “ghosted” Penn.
Ghosting is perhaps one of the least caring ways to break up a relationship. It can cause unhappiness, loneliness, and worthlessness.
- Researchers Navarro & Larrañaga (2020) found those who had experienced breadcrumbing or both breadcrumbing and ghosting felt less satisfaction with life, and more helplessness and self-perceived loneliness.
- Ghosting sparks uncertainty and ambiguity for the ghostee, as there is no closure. And ambiguity freezes the grief process (Boss, 2007).
Ghosting allows digital presence with physical and psychological absence. So, you see them in the “vapor” but not in real life.
My advice: Do not ghost the next person as revenge for your being ghosted. Because you don’t treat people the way they treated you.
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Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy. His expertise is in mental well-being, positive psychology, narcissism, and Stoic philosophy.
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