How to be okay is a series that aims to help readers overcome a variety of life and relationship problems. It’s run by Ellen Nguyen, the founder of Tingly Mind.
For each article, a guest writer will start the conversation and offer their best insights on a given topic. Ellen will then add her opinions.
Today’s writer is Aaron Zhu! Aaron previously co-ran the beloved Deconstructing Love column. Together, Ellen and Aaron will talk about: How to be okay when someone ghosts you.
Ghosting is when a person you’re regularly talking to suddenly cuts off all contact. You might have met this cool, great, quirky, interesting person. You talk often and you look forward to talking more to each other. Then it all disappears. The texts stop, the interesting conversations are not a part of your daily routine anymore. You have no idea what happened. The person could have suddenly died for all you know. You’ve been ghosted!
I remember a date I once had. The girl told me that her previous boyfriend had disappeared. Literally, one day, he wasn’t a part of her life anymore. It is pretty unimaginable that someone who was a staple in your life one day can become nonexistent the next. It seemed like she had made amends with it by how nonchalantly she mentioned it. Either way, it is quite a bizarre situation. Personally, I think everyone should have a chance to say goodbye. Unfortunately, life is crueler than that. You will have loved ones that will suddenly disappear. It can be your family, your partner, a friend, or someone you admire.
So the question is, how do you handle being ghosted? How do you deal with something that shouldn’t exist and doesn’t make sense?
I believe the key here is to strengthen your mindset.
The way we deal with people entering and exiting our lives constantly changes as we grow. Our job is not to find a secret recipe to prevent loss because that is impossible. The age-old saying is true. People come and go like seasons. It is our job to accept that loss is inevitable. Finding methods to cope and grow in a positive direction is a good way to successfully deal with being ghosted.
Let’s narrow down into the realm of dating.
For some reason, ghosting has become a part of modern dating culture. I’m sure ghosting existed in the past, but it is especially prevalent nowadays. Thanks to online dating, it is easier than ever to meet people. And the easier it is to meet people, the easier it is to drop people.
Let me put this into perspective. If you’re playing the field and have ten people doing their best to get with you, then getting ghosted won’t feel that bad. On the other hand, if you’re having a hard time dating and you finally catch someone’s interest (or someone finally captures your interest), then being ghosted is going to feel like a pretty big loss.
It is not to say that ghosting is right or normal. Personally, I think ghosting is rude, immature, and hurtful.
However, it is not your job to accommodate people with low integrity. Rather, it is your job to understand that these people exist and try your best to be able to identify them so you can avoid them.
To my earlier point, it really does help to be aware of how many other people your potential date is seeing. If you find out they’re talking to or seeing a plethora of people at one time, then you can set your expectations on the possibility of your relationship becoming significant.
Everyone is capable of ghosting and susceptible to being ghosted. You can’t prevent being ghosted in dating (unless you choose not to meet anyone at all). Fortunately, what is in your control is your reaction to it if it happens.
All I can say is, don’t take ghosting too harshly. Most of the time, it is not personal. They might have met someone who is a better match for them, they might have decided to stop dating overall, etc. If you get ghosted, don’t waste your time wondering why or trying to find answers. A more healthy approach is to learn from the experience and move on in a positive direction.
I agree with Aaron. You can’t avoid being ghosted because you can’t control someone else’s actions no matter how much you think you know them. You’re not them. You can only control your own reactions to what happens to you and what you do about it. When someone ghosts you, it’s not a challenge for you to find out why they do that. It’s a reality to accept and get behind.
I know it can be hard, especially if you have anxiety. The moment it hits you that you’re being ghosted, you might go into panic mode. You might want to send texts after texts or call repeatedly until there’s a sign of life on the other end. You might want to come over to their house or chase them down the street to get an explanation. If you have done any of this and now cringe, that’s fine. It’s no big deal. Forgive yourself.
It’s time to let go without any further analysing or wondering. Someone who ghosts you, for whatever reason, has clearly chosen to exit your life. By ghosting, they have shown you exactly what kind of person they are and how they regard the relationship you have. That’s all you need to know to happily leave them in the past where they belong. Your future is a much better place where there’s one less person who can’t show basic respect and decency to others.
Anyway, don’t deny the significance of your experience with this person just because the ghosting hurts. Let it hurt. Once you feel ready, reflect on it in your own time and with a therapist if possible. Make it about you, not them. Make it better you. Like Aaron said, live and learn. It’s okay.