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Being Ghosted: Why It Happens and How to Cope
Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.
Verywell / Laura Porter
Why Do People Ghost?
- How to Cope
What Does Ghosting Say About a Person?
Is ghosting emotional abuse.
Ghosting occurs when someone you are dating or getting to know disappears without a trace. This could happen at the very beginning of a relationship or in the middle of one, whether in person or online. Dealing with being ghosted is incredibly difficult—especially because you usually don't know the cause or know how to react.
The person suddenly quits all contact with you—they won’t respond to texts, emails, calls, or social media messages. The mental health effects of being on the receiving end of these actions can be very challenging.
Learn more about why people ghost and how to move forward if it happens to you or someone you know.
People ghost for a variety of reasons. Relationship experts and psychologists agree that people who ghost are avoiding an uncomfortable situation. This evasion, while perceived as a lack of regard, is often because they feel it’s the best way to handle their own distress or inability to clearly communicate .
Ghosters themselves admit they don’t want to hurt you or they don’t know what to do. Sometimes they don’t think discussing a situation was necessary or they became scared. Ghosting is a passive way to withdraw.
But some ghosters perceive that to disappear completely might actually be the easiest and best way to handle the situation for all. Others ghost because now that it’s common, it’s an almost justifiable way to exit a relationship nowadays.
In today’s dating culture, being ghosted and ghosting is common.
How to Cope When You've Been Ghosted
It's not always easy, and it often takes time, but there are things you can do to start to feel better even if you've been ghosted by someone in your life.
Rid Yourself of Blame
After someone disappears suddenly, it’s hard to not feel regret, embarrassment and shame. After all, you risked for the sake of growth and it backfired. While ghosting feels so personal, it’s not about you. It’s about them.
Because you usually can’t find a cause and there is no explanation furnished, you may blame yourself. You might want to put up walls so you don’t get hurt again in the future. Or you may tell your friends you will stop dating completely, using a cognitive distortion like all-or-nothing thinking .
Now is the time to regroup, be kind to yourself and take a break. You are not to blame for someone walking away without a peep. Nor is it your fault that the other person couldn’t maturely give you the truth.
Nix the Shame
Shame comes about sometimes when we are reminded of previous rejections. But is ghosting rejection?
Meredith Gordon Resnick, LCSW
Ghosting carries an echo of old rejection. It's painful because it activates—and emulates—a previous hurt or betrayal by someone we didn't just think we could trust but whom we had to trust, often during our formative years. Here's the catch: It's not necessarily about the betrayal but about our not having processed and integrated that early memory, and what it meant to us.
Resnick, whose trauma-informed books about recovery from the effects of narcissistic relationships have helped tens of thousands of readers, reassures those who were ghosted and bids them to take care.
“Understood this way, we can see why self-compassion is in order,” she says. “Being dropped and feeling unseen is always painful, and there is never shame or embarrassment in feeling what is real.”
How do you move forward? You need self-compassion and self-care. Invest in time with friends and family who can support you. Also, you might indulge in activities that make you happy like taking a yoga class or returning to a hobby that you love. You can also try homeopathic treatments or acupuncture.
Elena Klimenko, MD, and Integrative Medicine Specialist sometimes uses a "broken heart" homeopathic treatment for a heartfelt loss . She says, “In traditional Chinese medicine like acupuncture, the heart meridian—which starts at the heart and runs to the armpits, then down each arm—is responsible for heartfelt matters and some deep emotions. Proper acupuncture treatment can also facilitate recovery and take the edge off the difficult feelings."
When you think of the ghoster, be sure to reframe your ideas about them and the relationship. After all, they violated the contract of what it takes to be in a mature, healthy relationship. That includes mutual respect, good communication and thoughtfulness. Therefore, this wasn’t the right person for you, anyway.
David C. Leopold, MD DABFM, DABOIM, and Network Medical Director for Integrative Health and Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health says, “When patients experience any emotional or mental health challenges, I focus on helping them build resilience and enhancing their self-compassion and self-care."
Dr. Leopold uses a comprehensive approach, including engaging in physical activity, prioritizing sleep, optimizing nutrition, cultivating meaning and purpose, and, reducing stress through practices like mindfulness and meditation.”
Therefore, if you’re emotionally exhausted and stressed, where do you start in taking care of yourself? “Multiple studies clearly show that eating healthy improves mental health—reducing stress, anxiety and even depression. And any form of exercise, even just walking, is a potent natural anti-depressant,” says Leopold.
If you’re ruminating too much, use an app to increase mindfulness or begin a meditation practice . Leopold suggests you don’t forget about finding meaning and purpose. “Studies show focusing on meaning and purpose increases oxytocin, our 'feel good' hormone, which increases feelings of connection and improves mood.” Overall, he advises that you take this time “as an opportunity to focus on you and enriching your resilience.”
Despite ghosting being normalized, it's more about the problem the ghoster is having than it is about you. Ghosting says a lot about the person in many different ways. For instance, it could say that they lacked the courage to do the right thing by explaining why they could no longer continue a relationship with you.
The person or people who ghosted you didn’t treat you with integrity, therefore, did not consider the implications of their actions. It could also signal that they may not care about their actions and are inconsiderate or unreliable.
Or, it could be none of the above. The ghoster may be dealing with a mental health or medical condition (of a loved one or their own) that is making it difficult for them to reach out at the current time.
Whatever the case may be, being ghosted is not a reflection on you or your worthiness. Nor should it render you powerless.
Ghosting is a form of silent treatment, which mental health professionals have described as emotional cruelty or even emotional abuse if done so intentionally. You feel powerless and silenced. You don't know to make sense of the experience or have an opportunity to express your feelings.
This cowardly act, unfortunately pretty normalized by our culture, can cause immense pain. As you have no clue about what happened, your mind first jumps to many possibilities. Was your new love interest injured in a car accident? Is their family okay? Maybe it’s just a crazy busy time at work and they will contact you again soon?
You might feel a wave of different emotions: sadness, anger , loneliness , confusion. Mental health professionals find that no response is especially painful for people on an emotional level. You feel helpless and shunned without information that could guide your understanding.
Being ghosted might result in exhibiting a variety of negative emotions and questioning yourself. Don't play the blame and shame game. Hold your head up high, hold onto your dignity, and let them go. Someone better could be out there looking for you.
Practice self-care and build your resilience during this painful time. If you’re still struggling to cope after being ghosted by a romantic interest, a friend, or someone in the workplace, reach out to a doctor or a mental health professional for assistance.
Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Negative Emotions
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By Barbara Field Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.
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BERKELEY'S NEWS • OCTOBER 13, 2023
The 5 stages of ghosting
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OCTOBER 05, 2018
“What’re you up to tonight?”
I said nothing.
The next day, my phone illuminated with another text: “How’s it going?” He was brief and unassuming, but again, I said nothing.
A couple of hours later, “How about a drink tonight?” I quickly dismiss the notification as if doing so made the person on the other end disappear.
By the third, unanswered message, you should have already read the subtext, but certain men have an unfaltering knack for optimism.
The final, fourth text didn’t arrive until the next weekend: “What’s up?” And, you guessed it, nothing in response. I was ghosting — creating a sudden, unexplained break in communication.
His name was Callaghan, if memory serves me. And I hope it does, because he wasn’t saved in my contacts and the only thing left of him is a New York area code and a couple of despondent text messages. I saw him only once on purpose, twice by accident. He had the sort of sad-puppy face that I find contemptible.
And really, the poor sucker should’ve seen it coming. Ghosting usually has a build-up, a predictable pattern. First, response times lag — a couple of hours, then half-days, then full days followed by fake excuses. You know, the “Sorry, I totally didn’t see this text” or the “Sorry, I was um, at my grandmother’s funeral.” Then come the delays: “Not this weekend. I have to do something, anything other than see you, but hit me up next time.” And then finally, the complete, echoing silence.
I know because this wasn’t the first time I had ghosted someone, or the second or even the third — I was a veteran. I tend to transform into an apparition with the kind of reckless abandon of an immature teenager and the remorseless attitude of a sociopath.
The problem is that I have been on the other side. I’ve been that poor sucker left wondering where someone went and what exactly went wrong. I know what it feels like. Ghosting is rejection without the conclusiveness — it has a particular way of getting under your skin.
The stages of ghosting generally follow the five stages of grief, the Kübler-Ross model. Would the Swiss-American psychologist be proud of this analogy, this misappropriation of her research into the terminally ill? Who knows?
The first stage: denial. You try your best to keep from overanalyzing things. You watch TV as a numbing distraction but can’t help checking your phone every 20 minutes despite hearing no buzzing, no ringing, no indication that they’ve responded. They’re just busy, you tell yourself — they’re probably not on their phone. This is the fatally optimistic phase because, let’s be real, our phones are our constant companions. We hold onto them like a talisman that will unlock the meaning of our existence.
A couple of days later, the second stage sets in — anger. I am the type of person who always carries around an arsenal of insults just in case the opportunity presents itself. It’s a defense mechanism. So, this stage comes easily. The insults fire off in my head like a barrage of cannons. How could this stupid bastard ghost me? Me? Inevitably, you make comparisons in which you end up on top. I should be the one ghosting, not him.
Bargaining. Hi, God, it’s me again. Please let there be an explanation — a shipwreck, a car accident, a feral pack of wolves. I would rather something horrible have happened than deal with the humiliation of having been ghosted.
Depression. You know the only explanation is the obvious one, and you’re forced to abandon all of your embarrassing daydreams. It’s especially bad when your ghost haunts your real life. When you walk out of the library and see them milling around and they see you and you pretend otherwise and you both do nothing.
Knowing all this, knowing what could be happening on the other side of those ignored texts, you’d think I’d be more sympathetic. But you would be wrong.
Why do I ghost? Simple. Because it is easy. The easiest option is always to do nothing. Honesty is uncomfortable, and in a world of modern comforts and convenience, there is nothing worse. Ghosting is the paralyzing moment between being honest and being a liar. The first is a sharp but temporary blow to the ego — it requires grit and candor: “I just don’t like you.” The second is too often transparent: “I am not looking for anything serious.” Both require effort, so I often go for the silent option.
Why do others? The alarmists among us will decry social media. They’ll say it’s created a generation of selfish egotists who would rather ghost than face real emotion. They’ll write long, drawn-out think pieces about the horrors of millennials. Some of them will be millennials themselves. I am not among them. I think technology only aids people in doing what they’re naturally prone to do anyway. It’s far easier to be cruel to disembodied words on an LED screen, but I’m not sure ghosting is an entirely new phenomenon. We’re all a bit selfish, we think our feelings are more important than others’, we believe we’re owed explanations that we don’t afford to other people. I can admit to that. I can admit to selfishness and give other people the same leeway.
Which brings me to the final stage — acceptance. Our ghosts aren’t leaving us anytime soon.
OCTOBER 04, 2018
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Dating someone new only to have them drop off the face of the planet is nothing new . Being ghosted is the kind of pain that I would only wish on my worst enemy. (Sorry, not sorry.) Why, you ask? Well, even though most people objectively realize that being ghosted isn't their fault, it somehow still has the power to mess with your head in a pretty agonizing way. The phases of getting ghosted probably won't come as a surprise because we've all likely been there. You meet someone you're excited about and it seems like everything you've ever wanted out of a relationship is right on the horizon, and then... crickets.
And the worst part is that the possibility of getting closure is usually slim. I mean honestly, if they didn't have the decency to respond to your casual " are we still on for Friday?" text, then the chances of them having an honest dialogue about why they seemingly, out of nowhere, realized they never want to see you again is probably out of the question.
This is actually kind of great (even if you don't realize it right now), because you dodged a bullet. If someone isn't mature enough to be upfront about their feelings, then it's perplexing why they would think they're mature enough to even date. But as it turns out, the world is full of hot, smart, witty toddlers disguised as adults! (Kidding! Kind of.) In case it's been a while since you've felt the burn, here's a reminder of what it's like to get ghosted.
Maybe it's just me, but pretty much every time someone takes an uncharacteristically long time to respond, I wonder if an imminent ghosting is coming my way. Honestly, I think so many of us are traumatized from being ghosted that we worry it's going to happen again way more than it actually does.
After the initial early-onset panic, we come back down to earth and reassure ourselves that no one in their right mind would actually do that to us. They're probably just busy, or their phone died, or they're dealing with something. It's only been a few hours after all.
Usually around 24 hours after a text has gone unanswered is when the real panic starts to set in. Like, it's been a full day. They have gone to bed and woken up — both events that usually require some phone usage. And the message says Delivered , so...
But why would they do that? Why would that awesome, fun, trustworthy-seeming person just not respond to me? Don't they realize that's such a bad way to let someone know you don't want to see them any more? This is usually the point where many people consider the unthinkable: sending a double text. Maybe something actually bad did happen or they had a family emergency? Maybe, but probably not.
This is the point where you start picking apart and twisting their great qualities as proof that they really are just a huge jerk. And we annoy our friends by ranting to them about how they totally led us on, and about how if we do finally hear from them we're not going to respond and ghost them right back.
Once several days have passed and you still haven't heard from them, those who resisted the temptation to send a double text are probably still feeling confused, and those who decided to follow up with yet another unanswered message are likely feeling even worse. Still, even though you're mad, there's still a universe in which you'd like to hear from them, even if it's only to suss out why they trolled you.
Fast forward several more days (or even weeks) later, and low and behold, look who decided to show up. One part satisfaction and two parts annoyance at the fact that this troll has made the achingly transparent jerk move and hit you up last minute on a primetime night to "grab a drink" — which is obviously code for "my actual date flaked and now I'm desperate, wanna bang?"
Well, now that you've realized they're not worth your stress and anxiety, you can finally rest easy. No car accident, no sudden family emergencies, no dropping their phone into one of those perfectly phone-sized holes in the drainage grates. At the very least, every mature adult deserves to date another mature adult who doesn't take the easy way out. Being communicative is such an important skill when it comes to building a relationship, and if someone can't do that, the truth is you can find another great person who can.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!
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How to Respond to Ghosting
Last Updated: February 4, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by Sarah Schewitz, PsyD . Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist by the California Board of Psychology with over 10 years of experience. She received her Psy.D. from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2011. She is the founder of Couples Learn, an online psychology practice helping couples and individuals improve and change their patterns in love and relationships. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 228,997 times.
Whether your romantic interest or friend is ignoring you, being ghosted always hurts. Don’t beat yourself up if your calls and texts start going unanswered. Try to stay calm, and avoid pleading for an explanation or sending angry messages. If an online dating match or casual acquaintance blew you off, don't sweat the small stuff. If someone closer intentionally ignores you, it can really hurt. Give yourself time to grieve.
Discovering You’ve Been Ghosted
- Not knowing why they won’t respond is maddening, but it's better to cool off before saying something you'll regret or jumping to conclusions.
- Many people find ghosting acceptable in some circumstances. For example, if a match on a dating app starts ignoring your messages, your best bet is to brush it off and forget about it.
Sarah Schewitz, PsyD
Ask for closure if it's important to you. Love and relationship psychologist Dr. Sarah Schewitz says: "If you went on one date and you don't talk to the person again, it's no big deal. They're basically saying, 'I'm not interested,' but they didn't have the courage to say it to your face. If you were dating for a month, though, you might send a text saying something like, 'Hey, I don't know what happened or why you're not talking to me anymore. I would really appreciate a conversation for some closure.'"
- You could check their social media profile and see if they’re posting pictures or statuses. Keep in mind you shouldn’t obsess over their posts for hours. Just do a quick check.
- If you both have a mutual friend, you could ask them if the person who’s ignoring you is okay.
- If you think the person might be depressed or going through an emotional struggle, you could write them a message and say, “I haven’t heard from you in a while, and I hope you’re okay. I know you’re going through a tough time, and I’m here for you.”
- As much as it hurts, do your best to stop making excuses for them or holding out hope that they’ll eventually respond.
- If they do try to contact you in the future, use your best judgment. If they apologize and explain that they had a lot going on, they might not have had bad intentions.
Moving Past the Pain
- Even if you just went on 1 date, it’s still okay to grieve. Getting rejected is tough under any circumstances, and bottling up your feelings won’t do you any good.
- Focus on the fact that you dodged a bullet. It's better to be ghosted after 1 or 2 dates than to waste weeks or months with someone that's not right for you. If a long-term friend or partner starts intentionally ignoring you for no reason, it might be a good thing that they're out of your life.  X Research source
- Call a loved one and say, “All of a sudden, Sam isn’t returning my calls or texts. I thought it was going well, but I’ve definitely been ghosted. Can we meet up for a coffee? I’m pretty bummed, and I could use a friend right now.”
- Avoid skipping meals or loading up on sweets. Eat nutritious foods, such as fruits and veggies, healthy proteins (such as poultry or fish), whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
- Do your best to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. Outdoor exercise can be especially helpful, so go for brisk walks, jogs, or bike rides.
- Try taking a class or joining a club related to one of your interests. You could join a gardening club, sign up for an informal sports league, or take a cooking class.
- Remind yourself that life is full of both joy and pain. You’ll face obstacles in the future, but refusing to put yourself out there is no way to live.
Learning from the Experience
- Remember to stay positive instead of finding ways to blame yourself. Practice constructive self-criticism, such as, “I put more effort into making plans than they did, and should avoid similar situations in the future.”
- Again, don’t get down on yourself as you think about warning signs that went unnoticed. The point is to identify red flags to look for in future relationships.
- The next time you’re in a tough situation, think back to this, and remind yourself that things will get better.
- For example, you might say, “I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve had together, and this is tough for me to say. I don’t think it’s going to work out in the long run. I hope you understand, and I wish you all the best.”
You might also like.
- ↑ https://www.self.com/story/ghosting-and-dating
- ↑ https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9kq7m3/how-to-handle-being-ghosted-by-a-friend
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much
- ↑ https://www.glamour.com/story/stages-of-being-ghosted-on
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201705/6-ways-deal-the-pain-being-ghosted
- ↑ https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-handle-being-ghosted-and-why-its-not-a-very-nice-thing-to-do-to-someone-else/
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/valley-girl-brain/201105/how-want-get-over-breakup
About This Article
Being ghosted by a friend or romantic interest can be hurtful, but by giving yourself time to grieve and working on moving forward, you can respond positively. First, take time to cry or listen to sad music, since you have a right to feel upset about what’s happened. However, don’t blame yourself for the situation, because people are sometimes just incompatible with each other. Instead of beating yourself up over what you could have done differently, focus on the positive side of what’s happened. For example, you might tell yourself that it’s better to be ghosted by someone after a few dates than to waste several months on them. Try to find a close friend to talk to about the situation, which will help you manage your feelings. For tips on how to tell if you’ve been ghosted, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Why Ghosting Is a Form of Relational Aggression
Goodbyes are inevitable. hurting others shouldn't be..
Posted May 15, 2023 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk
- What Is Ghosting?
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- Poorly resolved relationships perpetuate distress and lack accountability.
- Ghosting disregards the other person's thoughts, feelings, and points of view.
- Learning how to make positive transitions leads to positivity and growth.
Our lives are always in flux. As humans, each day brings new experiences that require growth, adaptation, and transformation. It is the same with our relationships. They change, evolve, and eventually reach their end. Romances fade, friendships are outgrown, one job gives way for another, and death is our inescapable fate. While farewells are inevitable, many people are terrible at saying goodbye.
It is natural to feel uncomfortable about change and transition. We carry myriad defenses for protecting our hearts, but avoidance is a favorite. Relationship endings are rarely easy. They can be emotional and fraught. When compounded by conflict, transitions can evoke anger, sadness, and regret. It is no wonder that we might want to push past endings quickly or avoid goodbyes altogether to minimize the discomfort. However, all endings represent turning points.
Avoiding uncomfortable endings establishes an unhealthy pattern of incomplete relationships. Relationships that have been poorly resolved hold us in the past, leaving remnants of regret, anger, confusion, and guilt , whereas fully resolved relationships allow us to move confidently forward to consciously embrace new beginnings. Positive transitions are wholesome, intentionally providing a path for flourishing.
Research shows that endings are often what we most remember about relationships, due to the recency effect, where the last words, events, feelings, or conversations create the strongest recall (Fredrickson, 2000). Goodbyes are an opportunity to put our emotions into words, shape how we remember the relationship, and receive a sense of closure. Schwörer, Krott, and Oettingen (2020) refer to relationships marked by a sense of closure as “well-rounded endings. Specifically, people describe an ending as well-rounded when they feel that they have done everything they could have done, that they have completed something to the fullest, and that loose ends have been tied up. Well-rounded endings are associated with positive affect, limited regret, and a constructive transition into the next phase of life, where one is not compelled to think about or act on missed opportunities and undone actions.
Many relationships are time-limited, but even brief encounters that are platonic or with business associates are connections between people that deserve appreciation. There is no need to stay in a relationship that has stopped working for you. It is fine to allow a relationship to end, but the fact that a relationship no longer serves you does not mean that it never mattered. People and relationships always leave behind a trace, a memento of the affiliation. A positive farewell honors the alliance, shows respect for the interpersonal connection, and validates the impact the person has had on us and any ripples it might affect.
Ghosting is a form of relational aggression where someone suddenly ceases all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or explanation and ignores any subsequent attempts to communicate. Ghosting is often used to avoid conflict but it is fundamentally a destructive move, triggering feelings of confusion, distress, and humiliation in the person who is ghosted.
Emotionally, being ghosted triggers feelings of vulnerability, doubt, and lowered self-worth. At a physiological level, ghosting depletes neurotransmitters, activates abandonment and rejection wounds, activates a systemic experience of loss, and activates the same neuropathways as physical pain (Krossa et al., 2011). To ghost someone is to make an intentional, self-centered decision to leave a situation in a manner that inflicts trauma and shame while leaving the recipient without a voice. In this way, ghosting is an act of narcissism . It is an act of discarding another, without empathy, completely ignoring the other person’s feelings or needs. Further, ghosting precludes an acknowledgment that the goodbye is what the ghosting person wants, blaming it instead on circumstances or the other person. It inherently distorts reality, allowing the ghoster to deny all responsibility for their behavior.
No one likes having difficult conversations, but that is exactly what healthy endings require. Having a two-way conversation is important to allow both people to voice their points of view and feel heard. Hearing each other out demonstrates respect for one another’s feelings and allows for honest contemplation and, then, closure. We must learn to reflect one another that, while it may be time to move on, we still acknowledge our shared time and humanity.
In taking responsibility for saying a humble goodbye, we make the world a little bit better. Standing grounded in the awareness that how we say goodbye is an important part of creating a connected society, we move forward compassionately, engendering new spaces for active listening and deeper future connections.
We always have a choice about how we handle transitions. How you leave relationships creates an emotional residue that accumulates inside you. A decision to honor the end of a relationship, to take personal responsibility for actions that promote mutual healing, leaves vestiges that build strength and positivity. Learning how to approach transitions with grace and respect gives rise to positive self-growth, resilience , self-efficacy , and the ability to build a healthy future for oneself in future relationships.
Facebook image: evrymmnt/Shutterstock
Fredrickson, B. L. (2000). Extracting meaning from past affective experiences: The importance of peaks, ends, and specific emotions. Cognition & Emotion , 14(4), 577–606. https://doi.org/10.1080/026999300402808
Krossa, E., Bermana, M., Mischelb, W., Edward E. Smith, and Wager, T. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 108 (15), 6270–6275, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102693108.
Schwörer, B., Krott, N. R., & Oettingen, G. (2020). Saying goodbye and saying it well: Consequences of a (not) well-rounded ending. Motivation Science, 6 (1), 21–33. https://doi.org/10.1037/mot0000126
Leigh W. Jerome, Ph.D. , is a clinical psychologist, artist, and the founder and executive director of the non-profit art forum Relational Space.
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How ‘ghosting’ is linked to mental health
The term refers to when a person cuts you off from all online communication. here’s what i learned in my study of 76 college students..
Check your phone. Are there any unanswered texts, snaps or direct messages that you’re ignoring? Should you reply? Or should you “ghost” the person who sent them?
Ghosting happens when someone cuts off all online communication with someone else without an explanation. Instead, like a ghost, they just vanish. The phenomenon is common on social media and dating sites, but with the isolation brought on by the pandemic — forcing more people together online — it happens now more than ever .
I am a professor of psychology who studies the role of technology use in interpersonal relationships and well-being. Given the negative psychological consequences of thwarted relationships — especially in the emerging adulthood years , ages 18 to 29 — I wanted to understand what leads college students to ghost others, and if ghosting had any perceived effects on one’s mental health.
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To address these questions, my research team recruited 76 college students through social media and on-campus fliers, 70 percent of them female. Study participants signed up for one of 20 focus groups, ranging in size from two to five students. Group sessions lasted an average of 48 minutes each. Participants provided responses to questions asking them to reflect on their ghosting experiences. Here’s what we found.
Some students admitted they ghosted because they lacked the necessary communication skills to have an open and honest conversation — whether that conversation happened face-to-face or via text or email.
From a 19-year-old woman: “I’m not good at communicating with people in person, so I definitely cannot do it through typing or anything like that.”
From a 22-year old: “I do not have the confidence to tell them that. Or I guess it could be because of social anxiety.”
In some instances, participants opted to ghost if they thought meeting with the person would stir up emotional or sexual feelings they were not ready to pursue: “People are afraid of something becoming too much … the fact that the relationship is somehow getting to the next level.”
Some ghosted because of safety concerns. Forty-five percent ghosted to remove themselves from a “toxic,” “unpleasant” or “unhealthy” situation. A 19-year-old woman put it this way: “It’s very easy to just chat with total strangers so [ghosting is] like a form of protection when a creepy guy is asking you to send nudes and stuff like that.”
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One of the least-reported yet perhaps most interesting reasons for ghosting someone: protecting that person’s feelings. Better to ghost, the thinking goes, than cause the hurt feelings that come with overt rejection. An 18-year-old woman said ghosting was “a little bit politer way to reject someone than to directly say, ‘I do not want to chat with you.’ ”
That said, recent data suggests that U.S. adults generally perceive breaking up through email, text or social media as unacceptable, and prefer an in-person break-up conversation.
And then there’s ghosting after sex.
In the context of hookup culture, there’s an understanding that if the ghoster got what they were looking for — often, that’s sex — then that’s it, they no longer need to talk to that person. After all, more talk could be interpreted as wanting something more emotionally intimate.
According to one 19-year-old woman: “I think it’s rare for there to be open conversation about how you’re truly feeling [about] what you want out of a situation. … I think hookup culture is really toxic in fostering honest communication.”
But the most prevalent reason to ghost: a lack of interest in pursuing a relationship with that person. Remember the movie “ He’s Just Not That Into You ”? As one participant said: “Sometimes the conversation just gets boring.”
Attending college represents a critical turning point for establishing and maintaining relationships beyond one’s family and hometown neighborhood. For some emerging adults, romantic breakups, emotional loneliness, social exclusion and isolation can have potentially devastating psychological implications .
Our research supports the idea that ghosting can have negative consequences for mental health . Short term, many of those ghosted felt overwhelming rejection and confusion. They reported feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem. Part of the problem is the lack of clarity — not knowing why communication abruptly stopped. Sometimes, an element of paranoia ensues as the ghostee tries to make sense of the situation.
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Long term, our study found many of those ghosted reported feelings of mistrust that developed over time. Some bring this mistrust to future relationships. With that may come internalizing the rejection, self-blame and the potential to sabotage those subsequent relationships.
But just over half the participants in our study said being ghosted offered opportunities for reflection and resilience.
“It can be partly positive for the ghostee because they can realize some of the shortcomings they have, and they may change it,” an 18-year-old woman said.
As for the ghoster, there were a range of psychological consequences. About half in the focus groups who ghosted experienced feelings of remorse or guilt; the rest felt no emotion at all. This finding is not surprising, given that individuals who initiate breakups generally report less distress than the recipients.
Also emerging from our discussions: The feeling that ghosters may become stunted in their personal growth. From a 20-year-old man: “It can [become] a habit. And it becomes part of your behavior, and that’s how you think you should end a relationship with someone. … I feel like a lot of people are serial ghosters, like that’s the only way they know how to deal with people.”
Reasons for ghosting out of fear of intimacy represent an especially intriguing avenue for future research. Until that work is done, universities could help by providing more opportunities for students to boost confidence and sharpen their communication skills.
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This includes more courses that cover these challenges. I am reminded of a psychology class I took as an undergraduate at Trent University that introduced me to the work of social psychologist Daniel Perlman , who taught courses on loneliness and intimate relationships. Outside the classroom, college residential life coordinators could design seminars and workshops that teach students practical skills on resolving relationship conflicts.
Meanwhile, students can subscribe to relationship blogs that offer readers research-based answers. Just know that help is out there. Even after a ghosting, you’re not alone.
Royette T. Dubar is a professor of psychology at Wesleyan University.
This article was originally published on theconversation.com .
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The Five Stages of Ghosting Grief
By Rachel Fields
- Nov. 19, 2015
At 6:30 a.m. I was blow-drying my hair, getting ready for work and accepting the demise of my two-week relationship. The nail in the coffin was that at 10 the night before I had texted him something vaguely sexual, and he hadn’t texted back.
The morning had become a quick but emotionally turbulent journey through the five stages of grief.
First: denial. It was entirely possible he hadn’t seen the text. He could have been in a deep sleep. He could have dropped his phone in the toilet. He could have died! Any of these options were comforting.
He wasn’t really a texter anyway, so his lack of response didn’t necessarily reflect the weirdness of my text. It was probably normal for non-texters to see a text and not reply to it. They saw it, found it charming (or not), but didn’t think it required a response. Totally standard.
Anyway, was the text even that weird? If you went on a date and got vaguely physical during a make-out session on a bench in a secluded area of a public park, wouldn’t it seem natural to text something vaguely sexual a few days afterward?
I opened my messages to remind myself what exactly I had sent. There it was, at 10:02 p.m.: “I can’t stop thinking about what I’m now referring to as ‘bench time.’”
O.K., so it was a little confusing. Deep into my third glass of wine, I had thought I was being coy, but the result was somewhat inscrutable. It wasn’t even clear I had enjoyed the experience. Was it possible he thought I was traumatized? Did he think I was accusing him of something?
No, that was ridiculous. He probably had noted my text, smiled, felt as aroused as you can be by a text as vaguely sexual as mine was, and gone to sleep, dreaming of me.
But all the same, isn’t it a little rude to get a text from a woman you’ve been dating for two weeks and not even acknowledge it? How hard can it be to fire off a blushing smiley emoji or a four-word answer? He didn’t even need to reciprocate the sexual innuendo (though it would have been appreciated). He could have just said, “Nice.”
(Scrap that. “Nice” would have been way worse. If he had texted “Nice,” I would have thrown myself into the sea.)
I didn’t care if he was a non-texter — and what does that even mean in this day and age? If you’re a 20-something urban professional who doesn’t text, you’re pretty much impossible to be friends with. For a friendship to exist in 2015, people need to know they can text “ugh I love oysterrrrs” at 2:15 p.m. on a Friday and get a response by 2:30.
Of course, there would be pathetically little at stake if he failed to reply to a Friday afternoon “ugh I love oysterrrrs” text. But this was my first flirtatious text after our first physical encounter. By not responding, he was essentially shouting into the universe, “You are overly sexual, way too forward and deeply unattractive to me.”
But honestly, if he was offended, I didn’t want to be dating him anyway. You can’t engage in an open-shirted make-out session and then get offended when the woman texts you a vaguely (vaguely!) sexual follow-up.
Maybe if I didn’t look at my phone for the next five minutes, he would text. Yes, that was the answer. I would blow-dry my hair like a casual, confident, independent woman. I would think about work and my friends and whether I should make an appointment for … Seriously, had he still not texted?
I put my phone facedown with the ringer off. Now I couldn’t see if he texted, and I could start living my life. I was single, empowered and ready for anything.
No, that wouldn’t work. If the ringer was off and the phone was facedown, I wouldn’t know if he did text. The best solution was to keep the phone faceup, ringer off, so I could see the phone light up if he texted — but not be bothered by the ringer. The ring tone was jarring, and anyway I was blow-drying my hair, so I wouldn’t hear it.
Two minutes later, still no text.
I started thinking about my life and what it may look like from the outside. Two nights before, he and I had stood gazing at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s much-discussed corpse flower, which had been due to bloom that evening but hadn’t.
“This plant looks fake,” he had said. “It looks like a plant from a 1930s movie about prehistoric jungles. How do we know this thing is real?”
I laughed. “Maybe it’s just a ruse to get visitors, and the plant is made of plastic. No one would know.”
The room was still. Dusk was nearly upon us and a strong rainstorm had kept away the evening crowds. Happiness stole over me, the quiet joy of standing in the dark in front of a 6-foot-tall plant, talking in unnecessary whispers.
“What if it blooms right now?” I said. “What if it blooms and we’re the only ones to witness it?” The thought made me shiver. As rain pounded the walls outside, I wanted nothing more than for the corpse flower to bloom for us alone.
A security guard at the door interrupted my fantasy. He peered into the room and glared at us.
“Closing time,” he barked. “You would’ve been locked in here all night.”
“Sorry, sir,” I said, and we followed him out, suppressing our laughter.
Yes, I thought it had gone well. When we parted on the train platform, I had felt sure we would go out again. It was early to feel so confident, yes, but in the happy haze of our four hours together, I had pictured us months down the road, walking hand in hand along a Chicago street. I had imagined him really liking me.
But as I surveyed my apartment — towel still on the bed, Walmart lamp from college in the corner — I started to reconsider. I am messy, lazy and selectively kind. Other women have white sheets that are actually clean and little bowls filled with decorative stones. Other women keep orchids. Other women do yoga.
I told myself this wasn’t true and we all have flaws, but I doubted other women’s flaws were as bad as mine.
In the past, when I asked my friends about their faults, they said things that didn’t count: They got frustrated sometimes or worked too much. These conversations inevitably ended with me saying, “Those aren’t bad enough,” and storming away.
They didn’t say what I wanted to hear. That deep down, they weren’t sure if they were likable. That they were so irresponsible, they couldn’t imagine being mothers. They didn’t say they craved attention but had trouble giving it to others. They didn’t say how cruel they could be.
These were surely the flaws he had seen in me.
Switching the blow-dryer to the other side of my head, I took a few deep breaths. What if he had seen my flaws and hadn’t texted because of them? What if he had seen who I was and hadn’t liked me? I tried to get beyond my immediate response (“If he doesn’t like me, nobody likes me, and I am unlikable”) and really think about it.
If he hadn’t texted because he didn’t like me, was that so bad? Relationships shouldn’t be about suckering people in with some sanitized version of yourself, only to spring the real you on them later.
Maybe he had seen the real me and decided I wasn’t for him. Plenty of things aren’t for me: running, action movies, owning a dog. None of those things are bad because I don’t like them.
And if he hadn’t liked me, why would I want to be with him? I wanted a relationship with someone who thought I was wonderful. Messy, maybe. Prone to leaving towels on the bed, yes. Bad with money, absolutely. But wonderful.
Maybe he had seeds of doubt and realized what it takes a lot of other people years to figure out: that those seeds of doubt can spread tendrils through your body until they eventually strangle your heart. And then five years later, you’re having dinner together and all you can think is, “This isn’t right.” But by then, it’s too late.
It was better to take notice now and bow out gracefully. Better to save us both years of indecision, resentment and desperation.
Maybe by not texting, he had given me the gift of the rest of my life.
I put down my blow-dryer and checked the time: 7:15. Outside, the breeze was lifting the leaves on the trees and traffic was starting to pick up.
There was only so much life to live, and no time to spend it with people who weren’t the very best fit.
And then he texted.
Rachel Fields is a writer and editor in Chicago.
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Microblading Ghosting Phase: What Is It and Is It Normal?
Microblading involves the application of tiny pigments to the brow area using a small blade. Because pigments are applied to the skin with a blade, this semi-permanent makeup procedure has a healing process. One step of this process is the ghosting phase, and we’ll explain more about this now.
During the first stage of the healing process, microbladed eyebrows look very dark. This is because the color needs time to fade. After about three days, the scabbing stage begins. It usually takes about seven days for the scabs to peel off. Once these scabs disappear, so do the results of your microbladed eyebrows.
When you’re healing from microblading, you may be concerned to see your brows become too light. This normal part of the process is called the ghosting stage, and it isn’t anything to worry about. When scabs fall off, new skin has to grow in its place. When the new skin is growing where your microbladed eyebrows are, it dulls the appearance of your brows for a temporary period of time.
As the new skin grows and the area starts to heal, the color of your microbladed eyebrows will come back. They won’t be as dark as they started, or as light as they just were. Rather, they will be the perfect shade for your complexion.
During the ghosting phase, it’s best to stay patient. You don’t want to do anything to irritate the skin as it heals. Don’t pick your scabs, rub the area, expose your skin to direct sunlight, or get the area wet. Instead of messing with the skin, let it heal naturally. Wait until all of the scabs are gone and the peeling has stopped to wear makeup. If you try to put on makeup when your skin is still healing, you can alter the results of your microblading.
Shortly after the ghosting stage, it will be time for your touch-up. During the touch-up procedure, an artist will make any necessary alterations to your brows. This can include reshaping the brows, darkening the brows, and so on. If anything happened during the ghosting process that left you feeling unsatisfied, an artist can help you get the look you want during your touch-up.
The ghosting phase of microblading is completely normal. While it may be inconvenient, it’s only temporary. Have no fear during the healing process of your microbladed eyebrows. When you receive microblading from Heather James Ink , you can be confident that your results will be exactly what you were hoping for! To schedule your appointment , visit our website or send us a text. You can find Heather James Ink at 5454 Surrey Path, Suite 202, in Frisco , and we look forward to seeing you here soon.
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What Is Called the Ghosting Phase with Microblading?
Microblading is a semi-permanent tattooing technique to make eyebrows bushy and naturally fuller. This cosmetic procedure is also well known with different names like 3d brows or brow embroidery. Microblading is one of the popular procedures to make your brows naturally pretty and fuller. This esthetic procedure comes with a lot of excitement and a bit of disappointment too. The ghosting stage is one of such disappointments that is a common part of this procedure. Be patient if you went through microblading and are facing this ghosting stage.
Let us explain in detail what the ghosting stage is and how to deal with it.
Microblading Procedure and Aftercare
You must admit that microblading is an invasive procedure, so scabbing from a wound is a natural thing. After the procedure, your esthetician will tell you in detail how to do aftercare and avoid scabbing. Keep cleaning your eyebrows with a moist cotton swab (dipped in lukewarm water) and let the liquid no to dry outside of the brow. The first two days require extra care. Some people think that scabbing may help remove patches of newly inserted pigment. Moreover, don’t use over damp cotton swab as it can fade the pigment.
- After two days, you can start using the healing balm, and moreover, you can Clean your eyebrows with water two times a day. Don’t use balm more than rice size. You can use healing balm for seven to ten days.
- Swimming, excessive exercise, sweating, and hot sauna baths should be avoided till ten days after the process.
- Don’t put any makeup or skin irritant near your micro bladed brows.
- Don’t use any chemical peel or any cream containing glycolic acid during the healing process.
- Avoid scratching and peeling the eyebrows. It does not matter how much irritation or itching you feel.
- Don’t use dirty pillowcases or towels. Avoid everything which can cause you infection and allergies.
- Last but not least, keep hydrated. Hydration improves blood circulation and speeds up the healing process.
Microblading Ghosting Stage
Your new micro bladed eyebrows are open wounds, so the first few days require more care and attention. Initially, your brows can appear darker and sharper as compared to your healed results.
You may get disappointed at first glance but don’t need to be disappointed. This darker appearance of pigment is due to oxidization. This sharp appearance will disappear within few days as the healing process goes on. Some people may feel redness and swelling in the initial days, which will also get better within few days.
Some people feel scabbing and itching during this process, which can last for three to four days. Once this itching stage ends, some people can also feel that their pigment is disappearing. This stage is called the microblading ghosting stage. Many clients feel disappointed or dishearten while facing this situation but let me tell you that this is a temporary stage.
After few days, as the healing process proceeds further, your pigment will re-appear. The ghosting stage will end within few days.
Touch Up Session And Microblading Ghosting
As the healing process complete, your brows will restore the real shade of pigment.
Moreover, it is common when some spots at brows show faded pigment, so you have to take follow-up sessions. So don’t worry if microbladed brows don’t show expected results. Your esthetician will make necessary changes to make your brows final results perfect.
If you are not satisfied with color, shape, or some points at brows that failed to retain pigment, then the artist or esthetician will do it again in a touchup session .
At the time of the procedure, your bro artist or esthetician will inform you regarding the touchup session. The first touchup session should be scheduled immediately after healing. It is usually scheduled after eight weeks after your Initial Microblading sessions.
Actually, the first touch up session is part of the microblading session, and you can’t achieve the desired results without the first touch up session. So if ever you or nay body pass from the ghosting stage, then be patient till healing.
You can ask your esthetician to re-fill pigment or anything else that did not come out as per your desire.
Duration of Ghosting Stage
Usually, the ghosting stage comes after eight or ten days of the process, and you feel that your pigment is disappearing. You feel sheer disappointment or may think that you have wasted money.
Healing is the day by day process and consists of many phases. This ghosting stage is one of its phases, and pigment will restore within three to five days.
Dos and Don’ts During the Microblading Ghosting Phase
- First of all, don’t panic if you feel that pigment is fading. Take a deep breath and tell yourself to relax. It is part of the healing process.
- Keep following your aftercare routine regularly, and don’t forget to apply healing balm.
- Keep Following the dos and don’ts of aftercare to speed up the healing process.
- Trust your esthetician and wait until the first touchup. If you do not find the results up to your expectations after healing, then you can discuss it with your esthetician in a touchup session.
Microblading Ghosting is a temporary phase and normally ends within a few days. There is no need to get tense or stressed. You must keep trust in your esthetician and wait patiently for complete healing.
Accurate results of microblading appear after complete healing. If you find any shortcomings in the procedure or you are not satisfied with the result, then your esthetician can re-store stokes during the touchup session. Moreover, you have to understand that microblading is an invasive procedure, so it comes along with many pros and cons, so keep your expectations realistic.
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Microblading Ghosting Phase: What Is It and Is It Normal?
If you want perfectly shaped, natural-looking, full and dense eyebrows, you are probably thinking about or already decided to get microblading. And you may think you just spend a couple of hours in a salon, and your brows will look great for months, right? Well, not really.
Microblading is a tattoo. It needs to heal, and while healing, it will go through different stages. One of them is the microblading ghosting phase.
Let’s explain what it is and how to behave if it happens to you.
What Is the Microblading Ghosting Phase?
The microblading ghosting phase is a stage of the healing process when the eyebrows look too light.
After the microblading appointment, your eyebrows are an open wound that needs to heal. Every wound goes through healing stages .
The color of your eyebrows will be too intense at first, too dark. Then after approximately 3 days, the scabbing stage starts. It lasts for about 7 days until all the scabs peel off.
And that is when the ghosting phase begins!
Why Does the Microblading Ghosting Phase Happen?
When the scabs fall off, new skin has grown over the tattoo, thus making it less visible. Many clients start panicking and thinking that the treatment was unsuccessful and that all the pigment is gone, but don’t worry, it’s still in there.
Is It Normal?
Yes, the microblading ghosting phase is completely normal. And it happens to almost everybody, but it’s not always of the same intensity. Some people will notice that their eyebrows are just slightly lighter and they are healing perfectly, while others, mostly those whose scabbing was more intense, will end up with pinkish skin on their brows. They will think their microblading didn’t take at all!
It’s also common for melanin-rich skin which was microbladed to look very light during the ghosting stage. It can look quite intense.
What Should I Do?
The only advice is to be patient. People usually start panicking when they come to the microblading ghosting phase because they weren’t prepared for what’s coming. Even when they are warned, they just get upset when they see their eyebrows with almost no pigments at all.
Microblading artists tend to say trust the process and that’s exactly what you should do. Be patient and wait for the microblading ghosting phase to end.
Can I Wear Makeup During the Microblading Ghosting Phase?
The healing period is not over, but the part of it that requires a strict aftercare routine is. That means that you can wear makeup but only if all the scabs are gone and the peeling stopped. And only if you really have to, if you are too self-aware of your brows.
Patiently wait for the pigment to come back and remember that the full healing lasts up to 6 weeks.
What if the Pigment Doesn’t Come Back?
The thing that frightens most clients is that the pigment may not return. If your skin is suitable for microblading and the artist microbladed properly, and if you followed aftercare steps, this is unlikely.
But we are not going to lie to you – there is a possibility for that to happen. Here’s why and what to do.
You messed up the aftercare
If you exposed your eyebrows to too much water and sweat, for example you went swimming or to a sauna, you may have affected the pigment retention. These activities are strictly forbidden during the aftercare and can mess up the whole process.
What to do: Okay, so you already messed up your eyebrows and there is no coming back. The only solution is to add more strokes and pigments at the touch up appointment . Be honest with your artist – they need to know what caused the problem, so that they would know how to solve it.
You picked the scabs
The first rule of microblading is never pick the scabs. They need to fall off on their own. If you do, you risk pulling some pigment out and permanent scarring. But sometimes, clients accidentally scratch or pick the scabs in their sleep.
What to do: Calm down and be honest with your artist when you come to the touch up appointment. They should be able to fix it.
You didn’t wash your eyebrows
Microblading artists usually recommend either wet or dry healing. The only difference between these two is that the wet healing includes using an ointment during the aftercare. But both of them mean that you must wash your eyebrows regularly. If you don’t, the lymph will build up and the scabbing may be heavier. Heavy scabs pull more pigment and affect retention.
Read this article to find out when and how to wash your eyebrows after microblading.
You developed an infection
Infections are rare, especially if you chose the artist carefully and if you followed the aftercare tips. But yes, there is a slight risk of developing it. The signs are unusual redness, pus, itching and inflammation.
What to do: Contact your microblading artist immediately and if the infection looks more serious, visit a dermatologist.
You have oily skin
Oily skin produces more sebum and pushes the pigment out faster. The retention is not as good as with people who have dry skin.
What to do: The microblading artist will add more pigment at the touch up appointment.
The artist’s technique is not good
The artist could have microbladed too shallowly, so the pigment didn’t retain well. They may have also microbladed too deep, and overworked the skin. They need to find the sweet spot to get the best results for their clients.
What to do: If the artist is unable to correct it at the touch up, ask for the refund and book with another artist. Skin rejects the pigment This is rare, but it can happen – some skin just can’t be microbladed.
Skin rejects the pigment
This is rare, but it can happen – some skin just can’t be microbladed.
The Microblading ghosting stage is completely normal and happens to almost everyone. It’s important to patiently wait for the pigment to come back. Carefully plan the date of your microblading session – you shouldn’t have an important event while your brows are healing, because they may look pretty unattractive.
Cover image source: Freepik
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