Giving Up “The Ghost”

I realize that of the people I’ve dated, I’ve been fortunate to have only had someone “ghost”on me on two instances. One of those times just happened. And while the pain was no less real this time as it was in the past, my reaction to it took me a bit by surprise in a way that was really positive.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the term Ghosting is when a person that you are dating (or really, it can pertain to a number of different kinds of relationships but most often refers to dating) suddenly stops talking to you.

Our buddy Urban Dictionary throws out perhaps the most concise (if blatantly subjective) definition:

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

Carmen: How was your second date with Kyle?
Beth: I thought it went well, but I’ve texted him a couple of times since then and he’s been ghosting me.
Carmen: What? I thought he was more mature than that. 

Ghosting has been written about and dissected for some time, with theories projected that it’s a product of the digital age and the seeming disposability of a person on a dating app or the shortened span of interest crossing a bridge into actual personal relationships as opposed to click bate. This is not new territory, and perhaps all of these theories hold water, I don’t doubt their validity. So why am I bothering to write about this, amongst the myriad of articles that philosophize and strategize how to deal with this kind of behavior as well as where it comes from? I wanted to explain, perhaps even to myself, why this time felt almost like some kind of purification process, the ridding of a toxin from my body. Somehow something happened this week where my brain and my heart at the same time realized that I don’t want in my life a person whose solution to their own emotional confusion is to cut off communication.I want to just repeat that, and if this has happened to you feel free to make this a mantra- I don’t want in my life a person whose solution to emotional confusion is to cut off communication.

That was really big. As most of us know the brain and the heart, while intricately related, tend to go rogue on one another and very seldom find it beneficial to behave as a unit. When this first happened to me years ago, I had a much more difficult time processing that. In fact I don’t know that I ever did, or if the wound just scarred over until the scar tissue wasn’t noticeable to me anymore.

I don’t know any person of sound mind that looks positively on the action of simply disappearing on someone. It’s psychologically damaging, and if you do want my personal opinion (why else are you here?), yes, I think it does reflect on maturity. As the ghostee you find out on your own that someone you thought was a certain person in fact is not. And that’s perhaps the most difficult item to process, because you feel you can’t trust your perception of another person’s character. It’s especially true if you were your genuine self, and your genuine self apparently is not enough. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

However, what happens if you actually like your genuine self?

I realized that that was the difference between this past week and moments in my younger experiences where I felt unsure of my own character and subsequently blamed myself and the wound festered. I don’t blame myself for this, and even though it was a pretty painful past week with a number of questions circulating about what was happening and then subsequently why, I held onto the fact that my brain thought my genuine self doesn’t have time for this kind of BS, and something nouveau happened- my little Ingrid heart actually agreed.

bhThis doesn’t always happen, but it was a pretty potent moment. I’m not sitting here and telling you I didn’t have a hellish few days after putting two and two together. What I’m saying is, I understood this week more clearly than I ever have before that if you like yourself, genuinely like who you are, and someone is unkind- you will find the healing process will come to you much faster because you dodged a bullet, and all elements of yourself are in agreement.

And you can give up that particular “ghost” for good.

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