We all know the exhilarating feeling of getting to know someone you actually like. Even though it can feel nerve-wracking and scary, it doesn’t get much better than those first couple weeks after spending time with someone you’re falling in like with. The gushing, the nervousness, and daring to imagine what might come of your new potential relationship can be really fun and exciting. But what happens when it all stops abruptly? Suddenly your texts aren’t being answered, and you’re imagining all the terrible things that might have befallen your new love interest that would separate them from their phones. Everything except the most heartbreaking and obvious thing – that they don’t want to talk to you or see you anymore.
This sudden drop in contact after consistent communication is called “ghosting,” and needless to say, it sucks to be on the receiving end of this relationship-ending tactic. It’s used as a way to cut off contact with someone by deliberately ignoring them instead of directly ending things. I never thought it would happen to me, but a few months ago I got a crash course when someone I was starting to care about ghosted me. And while it sucked in the moment, I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned going through it, because after everything is said and done I feel like a stronger, more confident person when it comes to my own self-esteem and dating. Here is how I got over getting ghosted and what I learned in the process:
You were fine before it happened, and you’ll be fine again.
It’s hard to remember when you’re wrapped up in a new crush, but there was in fact a time when you were strong, independent, didn’t know this person, and didn’t care what they thought of you. This time could be as recent as a few days or weeks ago, but it can feel like eons when you’re in the moment. But the truth we all know deep down is that we didn’t need that person then, and we certainly don’t need them now. Even if you can’t stand the feeling of being without them, the truth is if they would treat anyone like this instead of having an honest conversation about their feelings (or lack thereof), they’re probably not a person that is emotionally mature enough to be dating you right now — end of discussion.
They’re the one acting poorly, not you.
When you feel like you’ve slipped up in a romantic situation, it’s easy to back track or second-guess yourself. I realized this at one point when I texted “Hey! How are you?” to my ghost and got zero response. I was agonizing over what I could’ve done wrong, when it suddenly occurred to me I had texted the most, low-key, no-pressure thing you could ask another person. I wasn’t the one acting weird, they were the one acting weird for not responding. The truth is, when someone is repeatedly dodging your messages without a response, they’re the ones acting poorly. If they can’t be bothered to call things off in a straightforward way, they’re being rude. Asking how someone is or if they want to hang out later isn’t. It’s important to remember your behavior is fine, and that the ghosts are the ones who should be second-guessing their actions.
Don’t give anyone that much power.
I tend to be a really straightforward person, and go into most situations with my heart on my sleeve. This is unfortunately a really good way to get hurt in the world of ghosting. After having this experience I realized that I shouldn’t give anyone the power to hurt me like that again. Yeah, I can let my guard down enough to like someone, but that doesn’t mean I should let myself get so crushed if they don’t want to see me again. Their feelings for me and my own self-worth need to be completely separate things if I want to be a truly happy person. So now if someone ignores me or doesn’t give me the attention I think I deserve, I focus on taking care of myself instead of worrying about what is going through their head. Life is much easier in the long run when I worry about how I feel about me, not how other people feel about me.
Don’t waste your mental energy on them.
After my ghosting experience, I thought about how much time I spent worrying about the ghost in question. I counted waiting on texts, worrying if they liked me or not, and being upset when it was clear they were definitely never going to get back to me. It came out to be roughly two weeks of time. I now know that my time is way to valuable to spend that much on someone else, at least this early on in a relationship. If someone doesn’t like me or doesn’t seem to be interested in me, that’s now my cue to move on and stop worrying. If they get back to me, they’ll get back to me, and I’ll still have had been having a good time living my life in the meantime. And if they don’t? That’s fine, too. Refusing to spend mental energy on someone who appears to be ghosting you is a win-win either way.
Go forth into dating with tempered expectations.
Prior to this experience I found it really easy to get caught up in my feelings for someone. If I liked them and I felt like they liked me, anything that deviated from that storyline was enough to get me really upset. Now I realize that’s an unhealthy way to look at anything. You can’t approach everything in life like it’s going to be perfect and then fall into a pit of despair when it’s less than. We’re busy people and that’s a really unpractical way to live. Now if I like someone, I leave it at that. They’ll like me or they won’t. I’m not hinging any more hope or expectations onto a love interest than that.
There is nothing wrong with you.
It’s easy to feel inadequate when you’re rejected in such a vague, round about way, but don’t play into it. There truthfully isn’t anything wrong with you. For whatever reason, the other person wasn’t feeling it — and that’s perfectly okay. Sure, it would be nice if they said that to your face, but on the other side of the coin, now that you know they think it’s okay to treat people that way, count your lucky stars that they aren’t in your life any longer.
You might never know the full story, and that’s okay.
I, like a lot of people in this world, crave closure. If something is over, I want to know exactly what happened and why. One of the hardest parts of ghosting is you’ll never really know. When someone opts to not definitively end things, it takes away the kind of closure that is so important to move on to the next romantic adventure. What I’ve learned is that the fact they ghosted is all the closure you need. You might not know why, but you know that’s the way they decided to end things. The truth is that for whatever reason, they felt they needed to ghost you — maybe something happened beyond their control and they couldn’t fully explain it, maybe they’re going through something that they don’t have the words for, or maybe they’re just kind of a jerk. But whatever it is, it has nothing to do with you. There’s the closure.
While it was tough and hurt a lot more than I care to admit in the moment, I feel inoculated against any future ghosting experiences. I’ve since realized that by shifting my perspective to focus on my own life and happiness, I can take a lot of the sting out of ghosting. Because the hurt in ghosting really comes from wondering why they didn’t get back to you. And if you’re too busy and happy with other areas of your life to let yourself wonder why, there’s a lot less to be hurt about.