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  • Jo Fleisher

Have you ever been "ghosted" ?

If you're anything like me and you have no idea what "ghosting" is....and I'm not talking about "Casper" and the ones that appear at your front door at Halloween.

The "ghosting" I'm talking about has to do with relationships or the lack there of.

Let me explain, what I mean.

First off, let's define what "ghosting" is. Ghosting is the breaking off of a relationship (often an intimate one) by stopping all communication and contact with the partner, without apparent warning or justification, as well as ignoring the partner's attempts to reach out or communicate. The term originated in the mid-2000s, in that following decade, media reported a rise in ghosting, which has been attributed to the increased use of social media and online dating apps.


Okay, so now we know what ghosting is, we are going to find out more about it and why it hurts so much when in happens.

Ghosting isn't new - people have pulled disappearing acts for a long time now - but years ago this kind of behaviour was considered limited to a certain type of individual. In today's dating culture being ghosted is a phenomenon that approximately 50% of men and women have experienced - and an almost equal number that have done the ghosting. Despite how common ghosting is, the emotional effects can be devastating, and particularly damaging to those who already have fragile self-esteem.


WHY DO PEOPLE GHOST ?

People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they aren't thinking about how it makes the other person feel. The lack of mutual social connections for people who met online also means there are fewer social consequences of dropping out of another's life. The more it happens, either to themselves of their friends, the more people become desensitized to it, and the more likely they are to do it to someone else.


HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE "GHOSTED" ?

For many people, ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable. If you have known the person for more than a few dates then it can be even more traumatic. When someone we love and trust disengages from us if feels like a very deep betrayal.


WHY DOES IT FEEL SO BAD ??

Social rejection activates the same pain pathways in the brain as social pain. In fact, you can reduce the emotional pain with a pain medication. But, in addition to this biological link between rejection and a pain, there are some specific factors about ghosting that contribute to the psychological distress.


Ghosting gives you no cue for how to react. It creates the ultimate scenario of ambiguity.

*Should you be worried ?

*What if they are hurt and lying in a hospital bed somewhere ?

*Should you be upset ?

*Maybe they are just a little busy and will be calling you at any moment...

Staying connected to others is so important to our survival that our brain has evolved to have a social monitoring system that scans the environment for clues so that we know how to respond in social situations. Social cues allow us to regulate our own behaviour accordingly, but ghosting deprives you of these usual cues and can create a sense of emotional imbalance where you feel out of control.


One of the most insidious aspects of ghosting is that it doesn't just cause you to question the validity of the relationship you had, it causes you to questions yourself.

*Why didn't I see this coming ?

*How could I have been such a poor judge of character ?

*What did I do to cause this ?

*How do I protect myself from this ever happening again ?


This self questioning is the result of basic psychological systems that are in place to monitor one's social standing and relay that information back to the person via feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. When a rejection occurs your self-esteem can drop, which social psychologists purpose is meant to be a signal that your social belonging is low.

If you have been through multiple ghostings or if your self-esteem is already low, you are likely to experience the rejection as even more painful, and it may take you longer to get over it as people with lower self-esteem have less natural opioid (pain killer) released into the brain after a rejection when compared with those whose self-esteem is higher.


Ghosting is the ultimate use of the silent treatment, a tactic that has often been viewed by mental health professionals as a form of emotional cruelty. It essentially renders you powerless and leaves you with no opportunity to ask questions or be provided with information that would help you emotionally process the experience. It silences you and prevents you from expressing your emotions and being heard, which is important for maintaining your self-esteem.


Regardless of the ghosters intent, ghosting is a passive-aggressive interpersonal tactic that can leave psychological bruises and scars.


HOW DO YOU MOVE FORWARD ??

The important thing to remember is that when someone ghosts you, it says nothing about your or your worthiness for lover and everything about the person doing the ghosting. It shows that he or she doesn't have the courage to deal with the discomfort of their emotions or yours, and they either don't understand the impact of their behaviour or worse they don't care. In any case, they have sent you an extremely loud message that says:

"I don't have what it takes to have a mature healthy relationship with you."

Be the better person, retain your dignity, and let him or her go peacefully.


Don't allow someone else's bad behaviour to rob you of a better future by losing your vulnerability and shutting yourself off from another relationship. Keep your energy focused on doing what makes you happy. Know that is your are someone who treats people with respect and integrity then the ghoster simply wasn't on your wavelength and someone better is coming your way, as long as you keep your heart open and your focus forward.




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