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Ghosting - How it Affects your Mental Health

Mind & Mood 22 Mar, 2024
By Ciara Heaslip

Ghosting is a term which has become increasingly popular in recent times and the practice of ghosting has become common, especially with the popularity of online dating and the widespread use of technology for communicating. But what is ghosting, why do people do it and what can you do if someone ghosts you?

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is when a person ceases all contact and communication with another person without any explanation, warning or apparent reason. They stop replying to messages and phone calls, cease contact on social media and avoid any attempts by the other person to reach out or reconnect. Essentially, they vanish into thin air, like ghosts. While ghosting is commonly thought of in terms of dating or relationships, it can also occur in other types of relationships, such as friendships or even family relationships.

Why do people ghost?

Essentially, ghosting is a way of avoiding a difficult or awkward conversation. By ghosting, the person does not have to explain why they no longer want to have contact with or be in a relationship with the other person. They don’t have to face the other person’s feelings about the ending of the relationship, acknowledge or listen to the other person’s point of view and don’t have to deal with an uncomfortable situation. In short, it’s an easy way out.  Ghosting demonstrates a lack of respect for the other person’s feelings and a lack of empathy for how the ghosting may impact them. They assume that the other person will “get the hint” and can use this to justify their actions. This could be driven by a lack of interest in the relationship, where they don’t care about how the other person feels or about the loss of the relationship, or could be due to a lack of appropriate communication skills, as they don’t know how to explain or tell the other person how they are feeling. Either way, ghosting is a way of showing someone through action how they feel and what they want instead of communicating verbally.

What impact does ghosting have?

Being on the receiving end of ghosting can significantly impact someone, emotionally and mentally. It is likely to lead to a lot of difficult emotions, including confusion, frustration, self-doubt, anger and sadness. While the ending of any relationship can cause these emotions, the thing that is most difficult with ghosting is not knowing or understanding why it ended. When someone is ghosted, they don’t get any explanation and are left questioning what happened, why it happened, if they did something wrong and they have no way of getting answers to these questions. Because of this, it can be hard to find closure and move on as there are so many questions left unanswered. The person who has been ghosted can find themselves ruminating and going over the situation in their head repeatedly to try and understand what happened. Not knowing can also cause someone to start guessing or imagining the reasons and they often end up blaming themselves. Ghosting can harm someone's self-esteem, as not only do they assume that it is their fault but they can also feel that they were not even worthy of an explanation.

What to do if someone ghosts you?

Without clarity about what happened, it can be hard to know what to do and how to manage the situation. However, there are a few things that you can do to look after yourself and to move on after being ghosted.

Don’t keep texting/calling: The other person has given a clear message by not responding to your attempts at communication. Sending more messages is unlikely to elicit a response and will cause you more hurt and frustration as your messages continue to go unanswered.

Don’t blame yourself: It can be easy to engage in negative self-talk and start blaming yourself, thinking that you did something wrong. Personalization occurs when someone blames themselves for something that isn’t their fault. Remember that when someone ghosts you, it says more about them and their shortcomings than it does about you. There are lots of reasons why someone may have stopped contact so there is no value in jumping to conclusions and assuming that it was because of something that you did or did not do.

Value your self-worth: Know that you deserve to be treated better. Self-worth is about knowing that you are enough and that you are worthy of love and respect. Focus on your self-respect and self-value and remember that you deserve to have people in your life that treat you with respect.

Focus on healthy relationships: Get support from the positive relationships in your life. Speaking to and spending time with friends and family members who support, encourage and respect you, can offer a contrast to the relationship where you were ghosted and a reminder of what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.

Enjoy yourself: Spend time doing the things that bring you joy and happiness, whatever that might be. Although it may be hard to find the motivation for this when you are feeling upset, it is important to distract yourself and focus your energy on something positive

If you would like to avail of counselling for ghosting, anxiety or social anxiety you can book an appointment with us by calling 01 611 1719 or by emailing [email protected].