In Year Eight, I approached my crush during lunch break and told him I liked him. He outright rejected me and I was devastated. I didn’t just approach him blindly mind you, I spent hours on the phone to my friend the night before who said that he liked me too.
I was fairly confident that the feelings were reciprocated but for whatever reason they weren’t. I quickly got over it, probably because my focus had already shifted to Taylor Lautner‘s abs. But I also saw him in class every day and quickly realised he didn’t hate me. It had nothing to do with me at all, really.
Why am I bringing this up? Because over the years, I’ve realised that feeling of instant rejection I experienced when I was 13, was actually a lot healthier for me than no communication whatsoever. I had my answer, I got over it and after a month we were friends again.
The modern dating trend of ghosting, however? It’s ten times more brutal than being rejected to your face. There’s no closure. The ghoster just… disappears.
“What we call ‘ghosting’ now, I would classify as a situation where one person in the relationship ends all communications with no apparent explanation. There may be some situations where the end to the communication does have a reason; for example escaping unsafe relationships. It’s important to differentiate the two,” eharmony relationship expert and psychologist, Sharon Draper told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
As an adult, I’ve only really been ghosted (badly) twice. Now I’m not talking about chatting to someone on Tinder and the conversation just dies naturally. What I mean is you’ve been on a date, they’ve made it clear they like you and want to see you again. You set a date for a second, are chatting all week and then BAM, they disappear with no explanation.
You spiral: Are they ok? Is it something I said? Did they meet someone better than me? Maybe I’m not good enough? Maybe I didn’t look like my picture? I should’ve shown off my personality more. Maybe I showed it off too much? Did I come across as too easy? Or too frigid?
I asked Sharon Draper what actually happens to a person’s mental health when they are ghosted, because I genuinely wanted to know if those feelings of self doubt I had experienced were normal. It felt extremely validating to know that our minds tend to “fill in the blanks” with the worst case scenario when we get ghosted. So, I’m not a total dumb bitch for thinking he’s either a) dead or b) dating an extremely hot super model and now hates me.
“Being ghosted can be a very confusing and distressing experience,” she said.
“Not knowing what is going on can cause your mind to fill in the blanks, and often it’s not with the most helpful of thoughts. These thoughts can affect your self-esteem and confidence in future dating situations, and can make you expect the worse, even when it might not be the case.
“It’s important for people to remember that ghosting is not a reflection of their self-worth; nor is any other form of rejection. These situations aren’t your fault and blaming yourself, or giving in to negative self-talk can just end up prolonging the hurt. This has more to do with the person doing the ghosting than the person being ghosted.”
When I was ghosted, I felt like utter shit, and not just for a day…for weeks. For some reason it was worse than being rejected, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.
At the end of the day, I think it comes down to the lack of closure. It’s harder to move on because the door is left open and sometimes that’s on purpose. The first time I was ever ghosted, the guy didn’t just ‘ghost’ me but stood me up. It was going to be our second date and I was bloody excited. We even chatted on the phone an hour earlier just to confirm it was happening.
At the time we were meant to meet up, he just straight up started rejecting my calls. I felt my stomach drop, tears started welling up behind my eyes and I instantly felt worthless.
I cried all the way home.
Three months later, I received an Instagram DM from him (mind you I had blocked his number and never even gave out my IG). The ghost was deliberate, so that he could slide back in when it was convenient for HIM.
When I asked him why he ghosted, he never gave me the explanation that I so desperately craved. He claimed he “didn’t remember” hanging up on me and just slid into my DMs because he was interested in what I was up to. I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and say anyone who ghosts probably isn’t the best at communication.
Long story short, I got him to UberEats me Macca’s and never saw him again.
Boss bitch move, I guess. But what he didn’t see was the months of self-hatred and the constant state of anxiety that experience had put me in. I felt empty and not good enough. Why would someone do that to me? (*cough* they suck *cough*)
But really, there are many reasons why someone might ghost you and most of the time it’s not about you personally.
“More often than not, I’ve realised that my reasons for not wanting to continue seeing someone don’t have anything to do with them personally — hence my theory that ghosting usually has more to do with the ghoster’s issues than those of the ghostee,” self-confessed ghoster Brianna Holt from Tinder said.
Holt put it down to seven key reasons:
- They’re dated out
- They reconnected with an ex
- They’re going through some shit
- You’re out of their league
- They’re keeping up with too many people
- They’re exploring their sexuality
- They’re an asshole.
Of course, it would be much easier if they gave you one of those reasons outright. But online dating allows people to turn off (literally) and in their minds, they don’t owe you anything.
“A lot of people struggle with conflict and choose to avoid awkward conversations or situations,” Sharon explained.
“Hurting someone’s feelings never feels good, so for some people, hurting someone’s feelings by not replying instead of saying it to their face can be the easier of the two options. There can be many other psychological reasons why people ghost, but at its core “ghosting” is avoiding.”
The second time I was ghosted was quite recently, and it really broke me. It made me realise that you never really know someone when you meet them online, and it’s exhausting to give out that trust every time.
Sharon agrees that it’s actually better to have that hard conversation, rather than avoiding it completely. She says that: “While you may feel as if you’re sparing their emotions, leaving them in the dark can affect them a lot more than being upfront about your feelings.”
“It’s far better to have that hard conversation and explain that maybe you’re just not feeling it rather than leaving someone wondering. Rejecting someone may feel harder to do, but it’s a moments pain that’ll ultimately benefit both parties.”
For me the experience turned me off online dating completely. But looking back, that may have been for the best. Because now, I’ve been able to take a step back and really think about what matters to me (and it’s definitely not guys who write shit captions about “drinking red wine” on Hinge).
“As I mentioned, it’s important to understand that if you are being ghosted it’s nothing to do with you,” Sharon said.
“If you think it will help, you can take action and initiate a conversation that will allow you to get some closure.
“Otherwise, it’s time to focus on you; self-care can be more important than ever. See friends, do some exercise, have a bath, or even just have an early night. Taking care of yourself is priority number one and can help take your mind off of it.”
Maybe it’s being in a perpetual lockdown, but I’ve recently been so content with being alone. I actually crack better jokes in my own head than anyone I’ve ever been on a date with.
At the end of the day, I think a lot of us are chasing something that we can already give ourselves (well, except sex). But seriously, why wait around for someone to text you back when your own company is better anyway?