Linda, 27, started dating Dave, 31. Things happened pretty quickly, but they appeared to be on the same page. They’d even met each other’s friends and planned a day trip out of the city together the next day. He sent her a text saying he was on his way to her apartment to pick her up. As time progressed and despite her numerous texts to him, he never showed up. For the next few days, she sent several texts to make sure he was okay. She never heard from him again.
Brian, 32, had been dating Kayla for a couple of months. They’d started off texting and emailing as they got to know one another. Once they met, they soon started dating. Although they didn’t speak of being exclusive, it felt and seemed that way to Brian. They had several dates and communicated often. Brian was totally smitten. After a weekend getaway, they said goodbye to one another at the train station. They texted each other when they got home and talked about the next time they were to get together. He felt very strongly about Kayla and felt she had similar feelings. After that night, she disappeared from his life. Despite his attempts to communicate with her, he heard nothing in return. He was devastated.
One of the paradoxes of our fast-paced digital dating culture is as quickly as you can connect with someone, you can disconnect. In a blink, your relationship can go from a promise to a poof. Date long enough, and you, too, may encounter a ‘ghoster’ – someone you’ve bonded with who suddenly disappears in a phantom-like way. Unfortunately, experiences like Linda’s and Brian’s are incredibly – and sadly – all too common.
People who just up and disappear have one very important trait in common—they’re avoiders. They want to avoid confrontation at all costs and equally don’t want to deal with their own uncomfortable feelings. The emotional maturity that comes with giving the person you are dating an ounce of common courtesy is not in their emotional vocabulary or repertoire. Their emotional immaturity trumps the desire to do the right thing and just come clean about wanting to move on. Even one of the coldest ways to break up – texting! – is beyond their ability. A simple two line text – which would bring some clarity and closure isn’t in their radar. Doing the right thing – no matter how uncomfortable – never dawns on them. They have moved on long before that final text they sent.
When you’re the one who’s been ghosted, you are overcome with feelings of rejection, anger, and confusion. At first, you may actually worry about the other person’s well-being. Is he or she safe? Did they get hurt? I just want to make sure they ok – then I can move on. You end up waiting to hear something, anything. You constantly check your phone for texts, calls, and emails after reaching out (because you can almost always tell if your text has been delivered and read). It’s torture. Eventually, though, because we are all immersed in social media, you discover the pictures and status updates on Facebook or Instagram that yes, he or she is alive and well. However, when you see that and before anger sets in, you initially experience self-doubt and blame. Did I imagine that things were going great? What did I do that could have turned him or her off? I did hear her or him correctly that they would call me make plans, right? You end up waiting to hear something, anything.
But here’s the thing: YOU didn’t do anything wrong, and all this energy you’re expending? The ghoster deserves not one minute of it. Don’t waste your time wondering if he/she is alright. They are. They have moved on without a blink of an eye. As you sit and worry, they are sleeping at night. If you have made a concerted effort to reach out and heard nothing in response, then just let it go. You will find quickly by doing this, how much better you will feel – physically, psychologically, emotionally.
If you start to go down the rabbit hole of negative thinking or thinking about all of the exchanges (as you patiently wait for him or her to respond to yet another text), keep this in the forefront of your you mind: Their behavior speaks volumes about them and very little about you. However, if that is difficult to do and you find yourself still struggling, just imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with this person and what it would be like to communicate with them. Difficult. At best. Better yet, how do you think they would they actually treat you? If they cannot show an ounce of common courtesy of being honest, even through a brief text of – ‘just not a good fit for me’ what would happen with the bigger things in life that needed to be addressed? Word to the wise: at the end of the day, consider yourself lucky!
Sometimes (better yet, often) dating is really, really hard. You have to stick with it and deal with situations like this. But eventually, you will meet your someone. You just have to learn to let the jerks go first because you deserve better. Way better.
Parts of this blog were originally posted on Dating Mechanics University