In an era where we are ghosted by romantic interests, friends, and even employers, has this disappearing act finally reached its limit?
The decision to "cut someone off" should not be as simple as society makes it out to be. Is it a justified means of self-preservation, or does it signal our inability to communicate effectively? There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to express our feelings or to cut ties with someone. This decision involves examining both perspectives: the person who got ghosted and the ghost.
Clearly, if you have communicated your emotional needs and boundaries to someone several times, and they still do not consider your feelings, it may be acceptable to end all contact. Suppose there is still room for relationship development and open communication. In that case, there are steps to take before removing this person from your life, especially if this is a connection you care about.
In a discussion with Psychologist, Psychotherapist, and relationship expert Shaurya Gahlawat, on Instagram as @therapywithshaurya, she explores the role that digital landscapes play in relationships. She believes it’s crucial to be mindful of the communication methods chosen while establishing a foundation. She explains, “While digital platforms offer convenience, they can also lead to misinterpretation or miscommunication.” It is best to have intimate conversations in person, as they allow for a clearer understanding of tone and intention.
When relationships primarily develop online rather than in person, individuals who ghost can terminate all communication without the concern of encountering the other person face-to-face. This makes the disappearing act easier for those who prefer to avoid uncomfortable emotions.
Gahlawat recalls a client who ghosted a toxic friend because his boundaries were being ignored. Therapy ultimately helped him realize that cutting off contact only offered a temporary fix. Through confrontation, the friendship was able to conclude definitively without any lingering uncertainties. It offered a form of healing that many cannot attain through ghosting.
It’s important to remember that ghosting does not make someone a villain, especially in a society that normalizes this behavior. Many people have done it without even realizing it — neglecting to follow up on plans or forgetting to reply to someone from a dating app. However, when someone is suddenly ignored by a person with whom they share a meaningful connection, the consequences of these actions can impact their mental well-being.
As highlighted by Gahlawat, this situation prompts individuals to question the status of their relationship, often resulting in self-doubt. Ghosting can evoke feelings of abandonment and anxiety, making it challenging for one to be vulnerable in future relationships.
When you begin to sense distance in a relationship, Psychotherapist Dr. Annie Zimmerman, the author of Your Pocket Therapist, suggests seeking clarity. Addressing the anxious feelings linked with ghosting in one of her Instagram reels, she explains, “Ultimately your anxiety is a very valid response to uncertainty. When we don’t know the outcome and we don’t know how someone’s feeling, it makes us really anxious.” To curb overthinking, directly confront the situation. An effective solution always lies in open and honest interactions.
Acknowledging the act of ghosting as a potential struggle with communication is crucial. It helps ease any feelings of self-blame and insecurity. This recognition is especially valuable in the early stages of getting to know someone, as it hints at possible challenges if the relationship were to further develop. By being transparent early on, individuals can navigate relationships more effectively and learn to build healthy connections.