Ghosting, completely cutting off contact with someone without any warning or explanation, may seem to be the modern way people leave relationships these days but ghosting has always been around. What may be different now is that everyone seems to be doing it often with the justification that since someone did it to me, it must be okay for me to do to another. It can take a lot of moral character to maintain your integrity and resist the temptation of ghosting as an easy way to end a relationship.
Dr. Jennice Vilhauer, a psychologist from Emory University, has researched and written extensively regarding ghosting and how to survive the heartbreak of ghosting. Among the following are some of her helpful insights:
- Accept that being ghosted can be very painful. Research indicates that social rejection can cause the same level of pain that a body injury can cause.
- Resist the urge to abuse alcohol and /or other drugs as a way to forget.
- Realize that you may never really know why the other person chose to ghost you. You may never get the closure you so dearly desire. You can create a lot of anxiety for yourself trying to figure out where you went wrong.
- Understand that the person’s choice to ghost you reveals more about them than it does about you. Think about what you value in a relationship. Likely it’s respect, affection, communication, none of which was evident in the behavior of the person who ghosted you.
- Catch yourself before you develop really unhealthy behaviors like creeping into the social media of the person who ghosted you.
- If you can, find empathy and compassion for the person who ghosted you. They have likely not yet developed the interpersonal skills necessary for building and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Surround yourself with supportive others.
- Seek professional help if you feel stuck and the ghosting continues to occupy your thoughts and plague you.
As trusted adults in the lives of children and youth, we must model healthy relationships and remember not to minimize and/or trivialize the friendships and romances of our children. Talking a child through and supporting them through the beginnings and ends of life experiences is essential. Helping them to realize that others and our relationships with them are not disposable is what will nurture in them the caring, commitment, and collaboration of interpersonal intelligence. It’s unlikely that ghosting will disappear anytime soon but building emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills in our children and youth may one day hopefully make ghosting disappear.
Written by Betty Barsley-Marra – Senior Health Educator