If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’ve probably heard the term ‘ghosting.’ You may have even been ghosted. Unfortunately, it’s a common experience...
That Girl (2)
  • 20 June 2024 Briana


    If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’ve probably heard the term ‘ghosting.’ You may have even been ghosted. Unfortunately, it’s a common experience. If you haven’t heard the term, the definition of ghosting is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” Essentially it’s when somebody stops talking to you without any explanation. I have, unfortunately, been ghosted. Twice, in fact. It sucks.


    According to news and media outlet Mic, (Mic's article on ghosting) the term ghosting originated in the 2010s when, in 2015 actress Charlize Theron stopped replying to her then-boyfriend, actor Sean Penn, resulting in a breakup. After that, the term skyrocketed and is now used frequently to describe someone who stops all communication with you for no apparent reason. Although the term is generally used to describe romantic relationships, it can be used to describe any type of relationship. In my experience, it was friendship.


    I believe that there are five stages of being ghosted. Denial, realisation, sadness, anger, and acceptance. It’s a lot like the five stages of grief, which made sense as you are, in a way, grieving for the friendship or relationship you lost. Not all of these will happen to everyone; all of these stages I’m writing about are based on my experience. I wanted to bring awareness to ghosting and some of the effects you might feel if you are ghosted.


    I was in the denial stage the first few weeks when this person wasn’t contacting me. For the first week, I thought that they were busy as it was a busy time of the year. But I noticed they were still hanging out with their other friends. After trying to get ahold of them again and being left on seen I realised that they were ghosting me, and I moved into the realisation stage.


    This stage only lasted a few days. It was like a freezing bucket of water had been dropped onto my head while I was sleeping, and I had finally woken up. After that, I moved into the sadness stage of ghosting.


    I had a little breakdown. I kept thinking it was my fault. I kept going over everything in my head, wondering what I could have done differently to make them stay. I became obsessed with it. Almost every minute of the day, I was blaming myself. That lasted for a few weeks. Then I moved into the anger stage.

    I was so angry - both at them and myself. I was angry at myself for becoming too attached too quickly. We had only known each other for a few months, and while we saw each other relatively frequently, it was always in a group setting. I was in what I like to call the “F you” stage. I would wish to see them out in public so that I could be extremely nice to them to rub it in their face that I still existed. That stage lasted quite a while. I’m probably still in it a little, even now.


    For the most part, I’m in the acceptance stage. I’ve accepted that they don’t want to be my friend. I have accepted that it wasn’t my fault, and even if it was, they should have told me that they didn’t want to be friends anymore rather than cut me off with no warning. I have accepted that I don’t need them; that I am content with the friends that I have. I have accepted that not everyone is going to like me, or want to be friends with me. I have accepted myself and who I am.


    Looking back, it was a good learning point for me. It’s taught me that not everyone is a nice person, no matter how much you think they are, and that I don’t need anyone else’s acceptance to accept myself. It’s still a shitty thing to do. If you are wanting to ghost someone, please stop and think about how it will affect them. Then communicate clearly how you feel. I can guarantee that communicating will affect them a lot less than cutting them off with no word. Your actions affect others, always keep that in mind.


    Note from Mandi the Mentor to potential ghosters:

    It is normal when something goes differently than you hoped to have a fight or flight response.  The flight part can result in not wanting to feel the pain of a misunderstanding.  The simplest thing can seem to just ghost someone.  But the emotional impact of doing that can send someone into a grief cycle like Briana did here and it also has an impact on you the ghoster that you may not realize.  In Create Happy one of our phrases is "Stay Curious" meaning if there is a temptation to ghost why don't you try and get curious with yourself about what set you off? What emotions came up for you and what need sits underneath them.  And then get curious about what might be going on with the other person.   If you aren't sure ask.  More than likely you will uncover a simple misunderstanding and clear it up, friendship restored.  You will have one less brick in front of your heart.  The challenge with bricks in front of your heart is the more that you stack there the heavier life becomes so make sure that you are very careful about choosing to put one in place. For day-to-day relational challenges try the magic balm of curiosity vs. a judgmental approach and watch the positive impact on your relationships.

    This doesn't apply to abuse situations.  For those we use "protective use of force" which is the smallest action possible to get you to safety.  But it is important to stay curious to make sure that it is true malicious intent that you are dodging and not a misunderstanding.

    When I am working with someone around a situation like this one of the tools that I use is to have them identify what emotions the situation is bringing up for them and then have them uncover what unmet need the emotion is a sign post to.   Then I have them do the same exercise as if they were that person instead.