I don’t know about you, but in the myriad of dating terms to emerge from the hellfire that has been 2018, ghosting has been the one to really stick. A serrated knife, that is. Into your guts, twisting with each unanswered message. But hey, we’re not bitter. Not one bit. Ahem.
Ghosting is a relatively new term for a not-so-old phenomenon, and when social media icon Alan Tsibulya graced us with his presence on the Waiting For A D8 podcast last week, we obviously had to chat about the spooky label.
That’s the thing though. The definition? Simple. The experience? Hard as fuck. The problem arises however, when you realise that ghosting is not limited to your romantic relationships.
It’s devastating when a love interest up and vanishes on you (no really, Alan himself made mention of a study that apparently said “the social rejection that we face from being ghosted activates the same pain pathways in the brain as physical pain”), but it’s a real powerful kick to the crotch when it happens within a friendship.
I’ve had my share of ghosting experiences, and I won’t pretend I haven’t been a ghoster myself on occasion. But the instances where it’s been with a friend have been the hardest to handle.
These aren’t people who are one date in and realise they don’t quite click with your vibe. These are people who have known you for months, years even. They know you and they know enough. Which makes it all the more painful when they decide that you don’t have a place in their lives anymore.
Alan himself spoke of a time where he’d ghosted a friend. He said:
“I had a friend who I thought maybe did something a little sneaky – and I am not a very confrontational person – but I realised if I care enough about this friendship, then I do need to confront this person. I wanted to come across to this person and confront them in a way that I thought was constructive to them and would help them.
I didn’t want to make them feel like I’m vilifying them. But I didn’t know how to do that. This brain of mine was going through a social dissonance. That dissonance turned into needing time.“
He then he found himself having been withdrawn for three weeks without confronting his friend.
Having gone through his own experiences with people ghosting him, he knew the thoughts it conjured.
“It’s this frustrating place in their brain where they’re like, is it me?”
Alan insists that it’s important to remember that if someone ghosts you it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a reflection on you (yes it’s bloody impossible to believe that sometimes but it’s true) – it could just mean that they’re going through something.
“It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or care about you, maybe they love you so much that they don’t want to put any hardship on you,” he said.
But it’s easier said than done when you’re on the receiving end – of both friendship and relationship hauntings. As someone who values honesty above all else, ghosting is seen as the coward’s way out. I’d much prefer to be told directly – but that’s not an easy conversation to have.
People only get the guts to be straightforward when they realise for themselves how exhausting it can be not only to be ghosted, but also to ghost someone else. But this shouldn’t be the case, because not vibing with someone happens all the time.
Say you’ve gotten ‘the ick’ early on and realised this potential human isn’t right for you. You just know it. Alan says it can be instantaneous.
“If someone’s slurping a miso soup you’re just like, ‘I can’t be caught dead with you at Westfields‘.”
So we should all just pluck up the courage and be honest. Be rid of ghosting in all contexts, once and for all. For our own sakes.
To hear more from Alan and find out whether your ex-lover/friend is an asshole ghoster or a well-intentioned ghoster (because the difference is key), have a listen to the podcast yourself.Image: Mean Girls