If you haven’t been on the receiving end of ghosting, I congratulate you. Whether it be romantic or platonic, it is an experience that is perplexing, frustrating, and humiliating.
I can’t remember when I first heard of ghosting, but I know that there was a certain relief upon realizing that this was a shared phenomenon. As a shy and self-conscious kid, a “friend disappearance” was not a foreign experience to me. I can’t even remember the name of the first friend that disappeared, but I have a grainy Polaroid of us snuggled on a couch with huge grins on our faces, maybe between the ages of five or six. All I know is that I wanted more sleepovers. My mom, with tenderness in her voice, told me that she was gone and she wasn’t sure what had happened.
Fast forward to 2020 and I still find myself on the receiving end of ghosting. Unlike my childhood self, there is no mom mediator. Also unlike my childhood self, I won’t allow myself to be victimized.
I won’t go into specifics, but after rather consistent communication with a particular individual, I was ghosted. Thinking everything was status quo, I sent my usual silly texts and banter. Days went by with no response and I was like:
There was confusion, hurt, and shed tears. Yup, I am sensitive. The cruel thing about ghosting is that you just don’t know. Did something tragic happen? Did I say the wrong thing? Do I smell terrible? Is this person going through a hard time? Who knows? I decided to move on. Then I receive a jovial text from the person picking up the banter as if it nothing had happened.
Okay. That’s weird. I just went through a whole cycle of “what ifs” and emotions. That’s not cool. I decided to be very clear about how the disappearance made me feel and I told the person to be as direct with me as they needed, but please don’t disappear without explanation. We mended. We came to an understanding. We saw each other in person and texted for fun.
And then it happened again. I think the last text I sent was during the start of our New World Order, where I wrote: “Bleh. This is awful. I love talking to you. How are things going?”
Nothing. Crickets. Humiliation. Sadness. Confusion. Anger. Now I am like this:
Not cool. I sat on it for a few weeks. Next Friday will be my 36th birthday. Why am I still tolerating this kind of stuff? The first time it happened should have been the sign for me to back away slowly. And once I have a vulnerable conversation with you explaining how it made me feel and you do it again? Oh no.
If you are a habitual ghoster, I implore you to consider this for a moment:
Some of us are really shy and it is a big deal to make a connection. As an introvert, people tend to pick me as a friend – not the other way around. It’s hard to reach that level of vulnerability where I am sending you a silly text or a bird picture. It’s even more difficult to walk it back after you decide to disappear. Vulnerability takes strength and courage. Disappearing from another person’s life without a reasonable explanation is the opposite action.