I use to think that I wholly lived by the Golden Rule, treating others the way I would like to be treated. It was taught to me by my parents, in church on Sundays, and most of my good girlfriends were the shining example of it. But it wasn’t until recently, when I discovered how far I was from actually incorporating it deeper in my life, other than to a stranger standing next to me at Trader Joe’s.
This was revealed in the history of my personal relationships. I was a ghoster. I am not proud to say it but I was. “Ghosting” is when someone you are dating or friends with suddenly disappears from communication without any explanation at all. They stop answering calls, texts, and emails. They remove themselves from your life completely. That was me, queen of the ghosting. I use to just disappear, thinking that my problems were so much more important than keeping in touch with people who loved and supported me. Or I was just too cowardly to address any real issues with others. I ghosted first dates, friends, and even some family members. All the while I knew it was wrong, but I just was too exhausted or caught up in my own troubles to do anything about it. Ghosting can happen days, weeks, or even months into a relationship. Often leaving the ghostee confused, angry, and disappointed.
Although not new, Ghosting is actually a popular phenomenon. Thanks to social media, about half of women and men have experienced some form of it and almost equal number have actually done it. But I wasn’t faced with my ghosting tendencies until I was ghosted myself. And believe me…I was pissed. Like roll your eyes, scream to the top of your lungs, break things pissed.
Why do People Ghost?
The irony was that I was not so much angry that the relationship ended. I was livid because the person did not have the respect to talk to me. And before I could pick up the phone to leave the worse voicemail ever, it dawned on me that I have ghosted people so many times I probably couldn’t even count. I had to be honest with myself. Ghosting is rude plain and simple. You fail to take another person’s feelings into consideration, and only concentrate on your needs. I mean this is basic life lessons; you learn the Golden Rule in preschool. So then…why do people ghost?
It’s easy to say that the person who ghost you is a bad person with a lack of respect for people. But it is not that simple. There are many psychological reasons why people pull a disappearing act. At its core, ghosting is about avoidance. People who engage in ghosting primarily focus on avoiding their own emotional discomfort. Because social media allows for less of a connection, there are less social consequences when you drop out of people’s life. So many people are doing it, that we become desensitized to it, and are more likely to do it to someone else.
To my fellow ghosts, according to relationship research, ghosting is the worst way to end a relationship. If one person ends a relationship through avoidance it can trigger anger in the other person. If the whole goal was to avoid dealing with conflict, ghost can find themselves in the middle of a showdown, because the person hurt has confronted them. Costing the ghost much more in the long run. This can be destructive for both parties. Ghost actually tend to have long lasting consequences from the guilt they feel for taking the easy way out.
Ghosting is the ultimate silent treatment. It is viewed by some mental health professionals as a form of emotional cruelty. It doesn’t allow for the person being ghosted emotional closure. If you have found yourself dealing with this, acknowledge your feelings, talk about it with someone, and let it go. If you are ever tempted to ghost…don’t. Remember the Golden Rule and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Confronting your feelings can actually have an empowering affect. When I decided to no longer ghost, I decided to be honest with people (even if it wasn’t pretty). Being honest with my feelings made me feel liberated. I felt like a better person for knowing I was doing the right thing by someone else.
Don’t allow someone else’s bad behavior to affect how you show and receive love. Not everyone has the emotional maturity to communicate and create a thriving healthy relationship. Live your life by staying committed to treating others with integrity. Do the things that make you happy. Know that if you are someone who treats others with respect then the ghoster was never on your level to begin with. You might have dodged a bullet. (It’s also good to rest in the knowledge that what goes around, comes around and there is no better teacher than the Universe!)