Breathe. The first question that comes to your mind will be “Why?”.
Why did I stop hearing from this person?
The next few questions that follow suit will be painful:
- Was it something I said?
- Did I do the wrong thing?
- Did I come on too strong?
- Why wasn’t I enough?
The horror story of ghosting seems to be more than a fabled tale. It’s a harsh reality of modern dating. Most of us have experienced this or been the one to magically vanish.
The reasons for ghosting don’t need scientific study but generally our question of why is answered with “I just wasn’t ready yet” or the infamous but maybe truthful “It’s not you, it’s me”.
But whatever the reasons for a person’s sudden disappearance from our lives, it hurts. And the reason it hurts so much is because there was a connection at an emotional level sending happy chemicals to our brains. Much like a drug we’ve gone cold turkey with, the withdrawal symptoms make us spiral.
So, what can we do to heal in these moments?
1. Don’t react; respond later.
It’s tempting to want to drop a text, to reach out to them and get them to explain themselves to you. Anything that will bridge that missing connection. Needless to say, this can sometimes come off wrong.
Instead, it helps to pause and remember that for the multitude of reasons you’ve lost this familiar presence in your life, you don’t know what that reason is.
Accepting that it’s out of your control is really helpful to feeling better. And if you are in a better place, then take the next step.
2. Say something
This probably goes against the grain of what most people say. We’ve been told that it’s better to just let it go, move on and don’t give them a second more of our time.
To some extent those things are true, and eventually they are required. But not addressing it directly doesn’t allow for both parties to reach an understanding. Why do we need this? Well, for our own closure, and to make the world a better place.
Sometimes you don’t get an explanation unless you ask for it. If you’ve ghosted someone, you probably left without ever explaining why — either because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings or you didn’t care about them.
Anyhow, by putting forth your grievance you also make room for that person to explain themselves and to learn that this behavior isn’t okay. Confronting them doesn’t have to be harsh or full of blame.
It can simply come from trying to understand and wanting to move on. Whatever they choose to answer, our only burden is to accept it patiently — because we know that true love won’t feel like this.
3. Time to move on
Here’s the hard work. We got used to them, and we probably felt invested in the connection. But like a drug addict waning off their addiction, the best way to not get your fix is to occupy yourself with other things.
A source of support is great in these moments and sharing our story is a huge part of the healing. This can come in the form of confiding in a friend about it or even writing it down in a journal. Any outlet helps grief to exist outside us. It shows us that while we feel sad from this, being sad is not who we are.
It’s also a great time to get motivated to do things we’ve been holding off or to become more invested in them. Like hobbies or specific interests. It’s a chance to see the world with fresh and clearer eyes.
4. It really is them, not you
You are enough. There’s nothing you could say or do that could make them change their mind. Feelings are the greatest motivators in relationships, and if they’re not there, no force could change things.
You can’t get someone to feel the same way about you. It isn’t your right to demand so. You can only demand to be treated fairly.
Trust that they are on a journey of figuring out what is best for them, and so are you. In this case, they weren’t what you needed either.
5. Happiness is the best feeling, not the best revenge
Don’t work towards being happy so that they can see how happy you are. Work towards getting to a better place because that’s what you deserve.
Knowing that happiness in love is something everyone should have also helps us wish the best for the other person. If we really cared for them, wouldn’t we want the best for them too, even if they hurt us?
I think that takes us leaps and bounds further in the healing process. “Positive catharsis” or so they say. To let go from a feeling of love, not hatred, does far more for our own growth than we can imagine.
Modern dating is unnecessarily complicated, and they abound with expectations and lack of accountability. But it doesn’t always have to be that way, and success stories in the age of the Internet aren’t a dime a dozen. They exist in plenty on the premises of love and commitment.
Hope we all find that too.