Definition: The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
Example: “I thought ghosting was a horrible dating habit reserved for casual flings”
By now, you’ve all heard the term. Ghosting is a basically a disappearing act that people use to tune out those we no longer want to deal with. Popular media, social commentators, and dating experts see ghosting as a new social phenomenon that leaves victims hurt, dejected, and injured by the offender. They claim that this practice is cruel, insensitive, and just a symptom of the brutal world we live in. I am here to tell you the other side of the story, the side that will not leave you feeling like a victim of other people’s actions, but an empowered grown-up, who owns up to her own faults and deals with them.
I am often asked to help women deal with ghosting, when they suddenly experience being dropped by a potential relationship or someone they have dated for a while. Like any humans, they are hurt, offended, and feeling like they did something wrong. I admit, being ghosted does not feel good at all, but unlike most advice givers, I will not give you pity, point the finger at the other person, or claim that he or she did something wrong. Instead, I will tell you that ghosting happens for a reason, a very good reason, and if it happens to you, you’ve earned it. If it happens more often than not, then as an adult, you have the responsibility to yourself to look within, and see what it is about you that people want to switch off.
This may sound cruel, but I believe that personal growth and empowerment come from self reflection, accepting 100% responsibility for all our experiences, and not blaming our feelings on other people. That means that if you have been ghosted, it is because of YOU, not him. Does it not serve you then to explore yourself, what you project out into the world, what reactions people have to you, and accept the fact that when someone ghosts you, they are in essence rejecting you, or some aspect of you they find unpleasant, unnecessary, or unbearable? Accepting that it is you and not them, gives you all the power in the world to ensure you are never ghosted again. For if it is your fault, you have 100% the ability to fix that aspect of you, and no longer be a victim of ghosting.
This morning, a friend who was very upset, called to let me know that she has been ghosted by man who stopped responding to her texts and calls, and to ask if I thought that people have lost all sense of human decency when they simply cut you off. I responded by saying that people who ghost you aren’t bad people, they do it to in some way protect themselves from you, or whatever situation, energy, or projection you bring to them. They have every right to reject what doesn’t benefit them, any healthy person would step away from something that does not feel good. Do they owe you anything? No.
Without going into details of who this person is, and why this happened to her, I will explain in general terms that this happens to a lot of my readers and clients, in fact, it is quite common. And while rejection hurts, I will never paint you as the victim. If you want to believe in the cruelty of people who reject you, go ahead, you’ll find an enormous support system in popular media and self-help books. But if you want to see yourself as you really are, I will hold up a mirror to you so that you can understand what it is that you are projecting onto other people, and what energy you bring to someone’s relationship table. That is the only way you will be able to see what it is about yourself that people need to step away from.
Contrary to popular belief, Ghosting is not a new social phenomenon propagated by the cruelty of social media, and the savage world we live in. In fact, Ghosting has been around since the dawn of mankind. It is just a new term for an old concept, rejection. Historically, the pain of rejection has always been borne by the rejected. Today, we no longer want to accept responsibility for how others treat us, and use the term Ghosting to imply that there is something wrong with the rejector, and nothing wrong with the rejected.
Modern technology, and social media now give us a power switch to simply shut off what no longer serves us, or delete people we don’t need to tolerate. We no longer have to pick up the phone and call the person we don’t want to deal with, and partake in a lengthy and unpleasant conversation about why we don’t want her in our lives. That conversation gives her the opportunity to twist words, misunderstand, or attempt to change our mind about a break-up we know is the right thing to do. We no longer have to consult the advice of family members, mutual friends, or therapists to let go of someone, risking the possibility that one of them will pester you into giving the person more chances. We can now simply delete, block, mute, and turn off the person we no longer want to deal with. As cruel as this sounds, it makes moving on easier for people. And again, they aren’t being irresponsible with your feelings when they ghost you, you as a grown woman are responsible for how you feel entirely.
So why do people ghost you? The plain and simple fact is that they don’t want you. Why? Each human is different, we all have drastically different needs and it would be a disservice to generalize. But, if you are being rejected, there is some behavior, a pattern, a habit, a style of communication, or energy, that the other person doesn’t like or want around them.
I have a confession to make. I ghost people all the time. I have been doing it since childhood, without being aware of it at all, until my clients started complaining about being victims of ghosting, and as I listened to their stories, I realized that I do it habitually. I have been doing it for so long, I barely am aware of it, but here is my side of the story.
I am very sensitive to energy, and I confess, I am not very good at protecting myself from it. I am learning how to be more like Teflon and let people’s energy just slide off me, but often it is impossible. I am also a natural healer, a helper, I want to help make everybody feel better. And in doing so, I often absorb toxic energies of others, allow their problems to become mine, alleviating their suffering to my own detriment. This is not anyone’s fault but my own. I am still learning how to protect myself. But, in order to protect myself from being drained, and energetically depleted, I have to switch you off.
There are people who understand when I switch off, they give me my space, and we remain friends. And then, there are people who believe that my self-preservation is sheer cruelty, and that I owe it to them to remain engaged with them. I now recognize them as energy vampires, and the minute someone insinuates that I owe them my attention, time, or sympathy, I hit that delete button. I have come to realize that people who feel entitled to my time, are no friends of mine. When I was younger and unable to recognize the signs, I would entangle myself into “friendships” where I am just serving a friend’s needs, alleviating their burdens to my own detriment. I have learned that if I continue to help, they will refuse to stand on their own two feet, that they don’t want the medicine, they just want me.
But for the most part, my ghosting is painful to people who don’t deal with rejection, who don’t understand that personal boundaries are subjective, and that they absolutely must be respected, especially to people who are codependent. Codependents live off the energy of other people, they are addicted to relationships, and they cannot survive without someone who will constantly give them feedback that they are in fact alive. There are other people who understand completely when I switch them off. In fact, I too understand that other people have energetic and emotional boundaries that I should not cross, and when they tune me out, I give them as much space as they need. Even if they need that space forever.
Though I have not been ghosted in a romantic relationship, I have been ghosted in friendship and I perfectly understand. I am not for everyone, and not everyone feels sparkly around me. I am blunt, abrasive, I joke incessantly, and I say it exactly like it is. I will never try to be someone else, but there are people who don’t like that, and I 100% respect them for it. No one owes it to me to try to understand me, tolerate me, in fact, no one owes me an explanation. It is perfectly acceptable to me if you reject me, ghost me, or switch me off. More power to you.
Like all healthy kids, I learned about rejection on the playground. My parents let me learn that lesson all by myself, without interfering or forcing other kids to play nice. In fact, they watched the painful rejections from a distance as I learned to deal with it. I had to learn my own coping mechanisms, and understand that when I am not being pleasant, other kids don’t have to tolerate me. I learned to adjust myself, respect the property of others, not cling to other kids, respect their space, and not make selfish demands, until I understood that it is okay for them to not like me. As soon as I learned how to love my own time and space, the other kids stopped rejecting me. Rejection is a lesson in life, and how you deal with it is your own responsibility.
If you are being rejected or ghosted or disrespected, the onus is on you to change yourself. I can’t tell you what it is about you that makes a man switch off. But since I read energy, I do sense that most often it is a woman’s energy of need, inadequacy, codependence, the need for validation, nudging, that even when projected subtly is a major turn-off for men, friends, and other sensitive people.
Are they being cruel for ghosting you, or are you being cruel for insisting they should tolerate your energy? Energy is very subtle, and different people sense it in varying degrees. But every human can sense it, at least subconsciously. And as long as you are projecting something someone doesn’t like, they have every right to move away from it. They don’t owe it to you to stick around, they owe it to themselves to find a better feeling person or space.
Please know that what you are projecting, may not be negative or toxic at all. Sometimes it is just too much contact, which is often perceived as needy. Contrary to what dating books tell you, there is no such thing as an appropriate amount of contact. What matters is whether your need for contact matches his. Until you meet someone who enjoys as much contact as you do, you will always come across as too needy or too aloof. Be okay with that.
I tend to be what others consider too aloof. I need my own space and time like people need oxygen. Step into my personal space too much, and you will be asked to leave. Text me your dramas, and I will stop responding. Not because I am a cruel or evil person, but because I have the right to keep my energy clear of other people’s problems. Demand my time without reciprocating with a quality friendship in return, and my attention will cease.
But to demonstrate how an energetically sensitive person functions, I would describe myself as a self charging battery. Everyone loves me because I generate my own energy, never take it from other people, and often make enough energy to light up an entire stadium. Needless to say, everyone wants to be around me. The upside of this is that I have attracted some spectacular friends and lovers into my life. The downside is that everyone wants a piece of my energy, and I also attract a lot of freeloaders who want to live off my energy. Under the guise of genuine friendship, they latch on and I become their life support system. I am their therapist, best friend, guru, rescuer and the only way they can deal with life. Every time I give them a bit of my medicine (energy), my battery gets depleted a bit. They see this as no problem because I make my own energy, I have more, so why shouldn’t they be entitled to it? There are days when a lot of people need my energy, and some take it without my permission. When my battery gets low, in the red zone, I go into emergency power saving mode. I switch off. At that point, I am trying to survive, so to protect my own soul, I have to cut you off, and anyone else sucking up my life force. You think it is cruel, but you are the one with her fangs stuck in my veins.
In order to preserve my energy, I do a few things. I ignore you. If you are talking, I will cover my ears, or leave the room, and if you follow me, I will go as far away as my feet will carry me. If you are texting, I will mute the conversation, because each notification that announces you are waiting for a reply, bites. If you are right in front of me, I will avoid eye contact, because your searching, needy eyes, that are trying to share your pain with me are sucking my soul out of my chest. In short, I will do whatever it takes to save my life, even cut you off completely and forever, when I see that our relationship is an unequal exchange of energy.
Now, I am describing my most extreme experiences only to show you what happens energetically when a person has chosen to reject you. In essence, you are draining their energy, their soul. You might think you are giving them positive energy back, but if they are a self charging battery, also known as emotionally and psychologically healthy people, they don’t need your energy at all. They will never ask for it, and they will always prefer romantic and social relationships with other people who are energetically complete.
I am not calling you unhealthy, an energy vampire, nor a codependent. I am simply demonstrating that if the energy exchange in a relationship is unequal, that relationship will fail. No one can afford to be your life support for long, and as long as what you bring into their space doesn’t feel good to them, they will seek to tune you out.
You might view yourself as a saintly do-gooder, shower people with attention, affection, flowers, and gifts. You might think that text you sent to check in, and ask how they are feeling is a form of caring, but if they sense that you are checking in to reassure yourself they still know you exist, you have just turned them off . If you are giving all that for the sake of a relationship, you are trading your affection in exchange for their attention or time. I hate to tell you, but trading emotions is a form of manipulation, and if you are sending me text hugs and kisses every day just to get validation from me, you are emotionally manipulating me. When a person feels like they have to respond, or like they have to appreciate all your concern, it does not feel good. It feels like they are now responsible for replying so you don’t feel hurt. At a certain point, they will bow out of the romance or friendship, because they are not willing to take care of your emotions.
Again, I have used the most blatant examples of what happens when someone feels the need to end contact, or ghost you. I don’t know you, so I cannot say specifically what you are doing to make the person feel uncomfortable. But, you absolutely MUST respect their need for space, even if it is a complete ending of a relationship. They don’t owe it to you to coddle your feelings, hold your hand through the breakup, or soothe you into comfort. If you do believe that, do yourself a favor, and hire a therapist. Maybe ghosting is something you are just experiencing, but rejection is nothing new.
If you feel like you are experiencing rejection like a pattern, you owe yourself some help. It is better to take full responsibility for how people perceive you and treat you, then believe that you are a victim of other people’s cruelty. They don’t owe you proper treatment, and the longer you think they do you will feel incomplete.