The Psychology of Ghosting
By: Lydia Waruszynski
Breaking Up is Always Hard to Do
But in the End It’s Important To Behave in Ways Which Won’t Come Back To Haunt You
Navigating high school romance is never easy. Adolescence is that developmental -and experimental- stage where crushes and romantic love can often seem sporadic or not even last very long. And, while break-ups and broken hearts are difficult at any age when it comes to love, they can be particularly devastating during the turbulent teenage years. After all, there are many intense emotions (and surging hormones) involved as teens try to figure out life for themselves, especially while dating. Feelings can even be more distressing for teenagers because of how they process and handle failed romantic relationships. Knowing how to do so with integrity, however, allows adolescents not only to mature but also to build many important interpersonal skills they will eventually carry into adulthood. It’s part of developing healthy self-esteem and self-worth, and a sexual identity, too.
A problematic trend in the present dating world is called ghosting. And, for the record, not only teenagers do it. Ghosting happens when the person you thought you were dating suddenly stops responding to your calls, emails and texts (or blocks you completely) with no apparent explanation or warning, unilaterally ending the relationship and disappearing into thin air. Poof! Gone! Deleted! The cutoff just happens and the person being ghosted is often left in shock, literally haunted by what happened. Not only is it disrespectful, but also heartless and a cowardly way of ending a relationship and, sadly, becoming more and more commonplace in the digital age.
The only thing worse than saying “I don’t feel the same way”, is not saying anything at all.
Aside from abruptly cutting yourself off from someone who is a threat to your well-being, ending a relationship by ignoring a human being is just plain wrong. Providing a reason and establishing closure is fair and should always be done face-to-face. Accountability. A relationship, no matter how long it lasted, somehow mattered. People matter. And, if you don’t believe that, you are also setting yourself up for failure. How? The very same screen you use to hide behind as an easy way out, (even if you convince yourself it’s more about not hurting someone’s feelings) impedes the social skills required for relationship success: maturity and conversation. Avoiding life’s challenges, conflict or confusion, disappointment, pain and loss only exacerbates uncomfortable situations and the vicissitudes of life that much more. Acknowledging them actually helps build empathy. What many ghosters fail to see is that much of the relationship anxiety they also feel is actually perpetuated by the false sense of security and control they think their device offers. Running away from situations or problems is never a healthy coping skill.
Often the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.
To hear more tips and techniques about good communication skills please go to Love On the Run with Lydia -a relationships podcast at www.letstalkaboutlove.ca