In light of its impact on popular culture, I’ve been researching the subject of “ghosting,” particularly from the perspective of the people who have disappeared, and why they did what they did. Yet, I still find the phenomenon totally ridiculous. Hence my title.
Regardless of their reasons, the “ghosts” I read about all said the same thing: They felt tremendous guilt because they knew they hurt someone they loved. But they couldn’t handle what was happening, emotionally. And, even if they wanted to reconnect, their disconnect about their responsibility in the matter proved a continuing deterrent.
One author admitted to being immature, surprisingly, a woman. She felt overwhelmed by the relationship, even though she wasn’t pushed into any of it. She just wasn’t ready. And instead of explaining this to her partner of one year, she just disappeared. She wanted to avoid having to explain herself because, well, he might have accepted her reasons. Or, perhaps he’d say he would wait until she was ready. The bottom line was, she didn’t want him. It was too soon for her. But she never forgot him, even though she launched into another relationship right away. And one day, about six months after her initial disappearance, they saw each other again by chance.
She was thrilled. It was the opportunity she’d been waiting for. Happy to see him, she hoped to explain her rashness, maybe even reconnect romantically. Because, though she wasn’t ready six months earlier, after six months, she realized what she’d lost. Especially when she saw him again. But he seemed apathetic when he saw her, walking briskly by, with only, “I have nothing to say to you,” in acknowledgement of her person. Frankly, she was lucky to get even that.
Somehow, this woman actually expected the man she ghosted, after being with him for a year, to smile. To stop. To talk. It’s a head-shaker. Because, when you leave a person you claimed to have loved and ignore their calls and texts, that person will not be happy with you, no matter how much time has passed. Jada Pinkett Smith’s Magic Mike character aside, being ghosted after a serious love-relationship is devastating.
The woman went on to talk about how happy she was in her current relationship, but that she couldn’t shake thinking about the ex she ghosted. “Maybe he had moved on, and it was me who hadn’t,” she questioned in what read as a total excuse on her part to not admit to her responsibility in destroying not just a relationship, but a person. For no good reason outside of her own fears. Nor, did she want to admit to her true feelings—that she was clearly in love with her ex. That would require taking responsibility, you see….
I nearly burst out laughing when I read that. Firstly, SHE was the one who disappeared. I can tell you from experience that it killed him when she did. He waited for her to come back. To call. To text. To email. For months. He cried, wondered why. Replayed conversations in his head, looking for the signs he somehow missed. He felt blindsided. Because he was.
The relationship was at an advanced stage; the two were living together, talking about getting married, having babies. When you’re at that level in a love relationship, after a year together or more, you don’t just disappear. Period. But when you do, you should not expect your former partner to be excited to see you. He never got the chance for closure; she did. Because she chose how it ended. His only choice was how to live with the consequences of her unilateral decision. He naturally felt used, felt like a fool. Especially after six months of no contact. And seeing her happy to see him??? Just painful. She obviously still loved him. So, why leave?
The RIGHT WAY to have handled that moment is to recognize the pain you caused by disappearing in the first place. And instead of giving up, AGAIN, she should have sent him a hand-written letter--though a text or email would be acceptable in today's world--apologizing for trying to waylay him in the street, and asking if he would like to sit down for coffee sometime. The letter should also express that she knows she cannot expect forgiveness, but does hope it’s possible despite her poor choices.
Her ex would have said yes to that. I guarantee it. Such an act shows not only effort, but a conscious recognition of his pain. When she disappeared and refused to answer his calls or texts, she ignored him. And, his pain. Like it didn’t matter. Like he didn’t matter. Naturally, he is going to treat her the same way. He has suffered because of her and cannot afford to treat her any differently.
All human beings crave acknowledgement. Especially from a person you thought was your person. If she had written a letter like the one I describe above, regardless of his answer, she would have provided him with the gift of closure. Even if it came six months later than it should have.
Her goal was never really to apologize; it was to confess, to relieve herself of the burden she created, and, carried. Instead of writing an essay to publicly justify her stupidity and cowardice, this woman should have put her pen to better use by making amends with the soul she injured.
Another essay was by a man who classified himself as a “runner.” He left a woman he felt so intensely connected to, he believed she was his twin soul. Like the woman above, this guy felt horrible guilt at what he had done. He also left out of fear, still very much in love with the woman he met eleven months earlier. But instead of trying to make right his wrongs, he wrote about himself, his feelings, in a public blog, unsure of how to reconnect, feeling embarrassed, ashamed. Ultimately, he was selfish. And when he did find the courage to reach out more than nine months after running away and having no contact, he was quickly disappointed that his ex was not ecstatic to hear from him. She didn’t trust him, and when he felt her “pulling away,” he gave up. Again.
Why bother getting in touch if you aren’t willing to go the distance? Yes, yes, just like in Field of Dreams. When things didn’t go as he expected, it took him less than ten days to write her off as person who “wasn’t committed to being in his life,” and he “only had room for people who really wanted to be there.”
Buddy, she WAS there. It was YOU who disappeared. If you really loved this woman, you wouldn’t have disappeared. At all. And when you did, you would not have expected her total forgiveness in just ten days after nearly ten MONTHS of silence on your end.
In his head, this guy believed that because he felt a soul connection, after more than nine months of no contact, and the pain he caused by disappearing in the first place, his ex would just fall back into his arms. It ain’t happenin’…sorry.
If he truly wanted to reunite, he’d give the injured party as much time as she needed when he sensed her reluctance. To heal. To trust him. Particularly since she spoke to him again after all that time. His response showed he was neither eager nor grateful for the second chance. Might have been why she was pulling away again, dude. You’re an insecure mess and should just leave the lady alone….
Once you’ve ghosted someone you were in a love relationship with, you cannot expect to go back and avoid the responsibility, aka negative side-effects, from your bad decisions. You damaged a human being. That human being doesn’t get magically undamaged because you suddenly grow a conscience or feel ready to jump back in, feet first—cause you aren't using your head, that’s for sure.
It requires MAJOR effort on the part of the ghost to revive a relationship they left for dead. Whether it is to simply apologize, to reconnect as friends (which won’t be received well…add insult to injury, why don’t you), or, to see if the person you ghosted still has feelings for you, because you legitimately loved them but panicked and did not know how to handle contact after disappearing—ghosts must be patient if they want to be revived. Ghosts should be prepared to give an ex time to assimilate the fact that, though disappeared for months upon months, the ghost is suddenly back. Don’t bother leaving your graves if you aren’t self-aware enough to understand that basic human need.
You must recognize and acknowledge the pain you caused. Yes, that means taking responsibility. It means watching your beloved cry. Maybe for a long time. You can’t be a person’s everything and leave them with nothing, expecting that when you are finally ready, they will be, too. They won’t. And if you can’t understand why, do the world a favor and disappear, For real. You don’t deserve to be amongst the general population. Go find a cave, or better yet, dig yourself a hole. Hide in it. Now. Stay there. Until you’re no longer an idiot.
For those ghosted, my best advice is this: Don’t look back. Live your best life. Be your best self. Even if you haven’t found it yet, happiness will follow.
Joy begets joy. But misery loves company, too. A person that left you high and dry will likely do it again. Maybe they’ve grown up. Maybe. But it’s a big maybe. And you suffered enough. When someone points a gun at you, and you survive the first shot, don’t stand in front of their gun again. If you’re still open to meeting though, know that you may be opening yourself up to hearing even more hurtful things. Perhaps you won’t, but if your ghost can’t figure out in half a year that disappearing was completely messed up, what they say in a year, or two, or ten is probably pretty worthless. They wasted enough of your time. And, mine.
Unless a ghost rises from the graveyard of memory to risk saying hello forever, there’s no need to say goodbye for their benefit.
You ghosts out there hoping to reconnect better be prepared for groveling. Get real, and get ready to lick some body parts, people. If you think the person you ghosted is going to sit there with a smile while you whine about your mistakes, you’re even crazier than you were when you left your dream-girl or dream-guy in the first place. Why? Because you're scared little bitches.
Yeah, I just said that. Deal. Or, rise to the occasion. Newsflash: #Love is scary for everyone. Anyone over the age of 30 has zero excuses for ghosting. That’s what a 16-year old would do. Not someone with a fully-formed brain.
Either way, there is nothing to fear from 21st century ghosts. Because not even ghosts can prevent being haunted by their choices. Small comfort to those left asking why, but what is comforting is the recognition that no matter how much time has passed, you don’t need your ghost to materialize in order to live a full, happy life. Once you believe you are worthy of happiness, you will get it.