An Open Letter to Those Who Have Been Ghosted by a Partner
I see you.
I know that right now you’re feeling insignificant and discarded. I see you standing there in utter shock, struggling to process how everything changed in an instant. The “before” and “after” alternately body slamming you with the brutal reality. I see you because I was you.
I hear you.
I know that you’re frustrated that your voice, your very right to speak, has been taken from you. I hear your silent screams into the void, the endless question of “why” echoing through the fog. I hear your voice because it follows my own.
I understand you.
I know that you’re questioning everything, running every detail through your mind, worrying each strand of memory like a loose thread. I understand the doubts that are starting to creep in, that you’re wondering what clues you may have missed or even believing that you somehow deserved this on some level. I understand you because I was in that same place several years ago.
The pain and confusion you’re experiencing are totally normal reactions to such a complete and total blow and betrayal.
Being abruptly abandoned without explanation is one of the more painful experiences that life can deliver.
And the first thing you need to understand is that leaving in that manner is a reflection of your ex’s character. Not yours. Some may remind you that relationships take two. And this is true. Yet ending it on this jarring note was a decision made without your cooperation. You may experience judgement from others. Try to be patient with them as they truly don’t understand what it’s like. Even loved ones may seem to blame you. This is often because they cannot bear to imagine this happening to them and so they need to try to make some sense of why this happened to you.
Ghosting is cowardly. Instead of having the difficult conversations and potentially seeing you hurt, they chose to run and hide. That is not healthy adult behavior, especially with a relationship of significant depth and duration. It’s not fair to end a relationship this way. It robs you of any opportunity to ask questions, much less eliminates any chance you may have had to fight for the relationship.
After being ghosted, you are haunted by the unknowns. Those endless questions can drive you crazy. Again, I’ve been there and I took that ride for a time. You may get some answers. It could be that they were seeing someone on the side or that they had amassed secrets that they wanted to keep hidden. I know the temptation to hunt for information is strong; however, I encourage you to keep this urge on a leash. Too much obsession over the reasons for their actions will only serve to bring you more misery. They gave you important information about themselves by leaving this way. Ultimately, that matters more than any details.
Are you desperately looking for closure?
If you’re finding yourself stuck by not knowing what happened like an unfinished puzzle with a lost piece, use what you know to fill in the gaps. Craft a story from the facts you have and your knowledge of your ex. You may not get it right. But it doesn’t matter. Our minds fixate on what is missing. Once you fill in those holes, it gives the brain permission to rest. Here are some more ideas on how you can find closure without your ex’s cooperation.
Perhaps the most cruel part of being ghosted is that the residual doubt and uncertainty lingers and follows you into new relationships. You can easily become anxious, desperate not to be blindsided again. And this worry can easily poison your new relationship if you allow it to simmer. It’s important to learn to trust yourself again. It’s possible that you didn’t signs in your other relationship because you were afraid of what they would mean. Trust that you can not only recognize brewing problems but that you can also face whatever may come.
I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself. Right now, you just want to know how to make the pain end. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you and release the anguish you feel. But I can’t. No one can. Not even your ex.
They are gone.
The way they went about it is cowardly and shitty. Yet the end result is the same. They are gone.
They had all the power in how they chose to end things. You have all the power now in how you choose to move forward.
I’m going to interrupt to share with you a little story about ghosts –
When I was six years old, my parents took me to Disney World. I insisted on waiting in the two-hour line for the haunted mansion ride. They indulged me (yes, I am an only child.) As we approached the front of the line, the details of the house and the spooky sounds playing over the speakers began to frighten me. Panicked, I refused to step inside the attraction.
A short time later, I gathered up my courage and decided that I wanted to brave the ride again. My parents again indulged me, only with some well-deserved grumbles this time.
It turned out that I had built those ghosts up to be way bigger and way more powerful than they were. The fear was within me. The story that they would harm me was one that I was telling myself. And when I walked back out into that Florida sunshine, I felt proud of myself that I had faced those ghosts and made it out the other side.
I know this ghost is different. They have hurt you. Deeply. Yet now they are like a projection in that haunted house – the real danger is over. What’s left is the apparition in your mind. And even that will fade as you again walk back into the light.
You will never forget “the one who ran away.” But don’t waste your life chasing after them. They are not worth your time.
Your love and loyalty and energy are better spent on those that deserve it.
And that includes you.
I see you.
I hear you.
I understand you.
And I believe in you.