Being ghosted is the relationship equivalent of the missing persons case. Except in this case, the person chose to go missing. Decided to disappear, leaving you abandoned and doubting.
Being ghosted is heartache seasoned with questions. It’s loss co-mingled with rage. It’s hard to know when to stop hoping and when to start grieving. It’s challenging to put down the mystery before the secret’s revealed and instead pick up the self-help and start to apply its principles.
Before you can move on from being ghosted, you have to understand the impact that it’s had on you. The unfortunate side effects of being ghosted:
Your confidence will take a hit as you question why you were unworthy of a conversation.
You will struggle to take others at their word and you will struggle even more with trusting your own perceptions and conclusions.
Balance between naivety and panic will be hard to find as you try to talk yourself off a ledge while at the same time looking up at the sky for the other shoe to slam into your head.
You may begin to grow towards perfectionism like a plant towards light, some inner voice whispering that you were left because you weren’t good enough.
Prior abandonment, through death, divorce or even adoption will be triggered. And the unwanted child within you will cry at night.
Details become everything. Data points to be combed and connected, looking for clues. And this is not only applied to the ghost, but to any new relationship as well.
The ghosting itself becomes a mystery, a rough stone that tumbles endlessly through your mind as you look for cracks that will reveal what happened. It’s easy to become obsessed with why it happened.
You may be swallowed by depression as the anger and blame is turned inward with no outward target in sight.
Trivial things will grow in importance – the last place you saw the person, the last word, the last embrace. They will grow until they almost overshadow the ghost themselves.
Small disappointments have the ability to become catastrophic as the ghosting has kicked one leg out from under you and it doesn’t take much to make you topple to the floor.
You’ll make sure that you can always be independent at the drop of a hat, financially and otherwise.
You become a screenwriter, crafting narratives around what happened and continuing the threads into an imagined future where you try to figure out where your ex is now.
Emotional walls are constructed in an attempt to keep one safe from others prone to disappearance. Walls that don’t discriminate and keep out the helpers as well as the ghosts.
Numbness sets in, spreading out from your frozen and shattered heart. Some days, it almost seems as though you’re outside yourself.
A fear of discord develops. After all, a disagreement can be a reason to leave.
The rituals of coming and going take on a greater importance. Reassurance that the person will return and celebration when they have.
Certain headlines and news stories catch your eye and you always search for their name.
You may fight an urge to be clingy, wrapped so tightly around someone that they cannot easily shake you off.
You scan crowds looking for signs of your ghost. It’s a bit like a horror movie – you don’t want to look, but you’re compelled to.
You respond irrationally to anything that reminds you of the precursors of the ghosting.
Rage will fill you at the unfairness of it all and you will scream at the injustice of having your voice taken away from you.
Mystery is eventually pushed out by clarity as you start to put together the pieces you were unable or unwilling to see before.
You will begin to see a distinction between you and your ghost, who you are will no longer be defined by what happened to you.
With some time and some distance, relief will begin to permeate. Relief that you’re alive. And even relief that they’re gone.
And at some point, the side effects will be gone as well.
For a great piece about the characteristics of ghosters, click here.
And if you want to explore the benefits of being ghosted (no, really), check this out!