It’s come, that moment you were dreading, the one you always hope will never come again. Maybe you were chatting online, maybe you had gone out a few times, maybe you were even in a full blown relationship. Then it happened – you just stopped hearing from the other person. No warning given, no obvious changes in behavior to tip you off, nothing. They are just gone, and you are left wondering.

There is an endless stream of questions that come up when a person is ghosted. Usually it starts with concern “Did something happen to them?”, “Are they laying in a ditch somewhere?”, or “Did they have to leave the country suddenly for some reason?”. Then you realize that you aren’t the lead character in a romantic comedy and that it isn’t anything that reasonable.  They have just decided that you are no longer worth their time, and that you weren’t even worth a goodbye. The next round of questioning is usually a little angrier “How could they do this to me?”, “Did they ever really care at all?”, or “What kind of person does that to someone?”. You can rant and rave and ask all you want but you will probably never get an answer. Finally, you will get to the worst type of questioning – the self-doubt round. “What did I do to push them away?”, “How come I couldn’t see it coming?”, and “What’s wrong with me that this was so easy for them?”.

Ghosting is one of the most common types of social rejection out there. It hurts, and it’s not the kind of hurt you can take a pain killer for. It is absence, rejection, loss, disrespect, disappointment, insult, and a gut punch that you can never really fully prepare yourself for. It is the silent treatment taken to the extreme, and some people wield it as easily as you or I do a pencil or a fork.

What makes a person ghost someone? There are as many answers to this as there are people who do it. For some it’s just the easy way out, no harm and no foul, in their minds at least. They genuinely don’t see how it can hurt someone, particularly in the early stages of getting to know each other. For others it’s the coward’s way out, a way for them to not have to deal with the emotional fallout of ending something. There are even a few who do it for the impact it will have, knowing full well how it will make you feel, either out of revenge for times it has happened to them or just because they like the feeling of knowing they have that power over you.  

So what can you do about it?

When it comes to your ghoster? Nothing. Sure, you could keep messaging them hoping for a response, constantly check and see if they are online talking to anyone else, or stop by places you know they go hoping to ‘accidentally’ run into them. But what does this really accomplish? It isn’t going to change anything. Even if they do eventually respond, what have you gained? Another empty interaction from someone you can’t really trust anymore. You won’t get any real answers as to why they disappeared on you, and even if you somehow do it isn’t going to make you feel any better.

When it comes to you? Everything. What happens after you are ghosted is all about changing your internal narrative. Stay away from that last round of questioning. You didn’t do anything, you aren’t blind or naive, and there isn’t anything wrong with you. This is all about them. Instead of beating yourself up, or staying angry, ask yourself this one really important question, “Is a person who can do this to someone a person I really want to be with?”. Hopefully the answer to that is no, and you can grieve the end of the relationship and move on.