Journal entry from October 15th, 2020 at 12:03 am :
My head is pounding from crying hard for so long. The tears are all dried up for now but the headache won’t go away…neither will the pain and confusion.
He seemed like such a good guy…he is a good guy. Is he? I don’t know? I don’t know anything anymore. I’m so confused. Maybe that’s why my head hurts. My utter shock and confusion over this rejection has caused my brain to throb in agony.
The funny thing is the rest of me is numb. I feel so tired. I’m so angry but I don’t have any fight left in me. I don’t have the energy to look over our texts. I don’t have the energy to replay our almost two hour phone call in my head, to find a clue. To dissect our conversations, flirty words exchanged, to over analyze every syllable and wonder if and what I did wrong to make everything go to shit. My eyes hurt from the screen. The constant checking my phone hoping to see a text from him. Checking my social media…seeing that he’s active…literal proof that he is actively ignoring me. Once again igniting my fury and insane confusion over why I’ve received zero answers or acknowledgement from him.
“It makes no sense” I whisper out loud into the pitch black abyss of my room. Laying in the dark, fan blowing air onto my face, I can’t shake the headache and now my stomach is joining in on the party, turning itself in knots. I think to myself “I did it again. I screwed up another potential relationship again. I should have just stayed quiet.”
*deep breaths, deep breaths*
I hope for a response. I ache for answers. But I fear that I’ll never receive a text from him again. Like a light switch turned, he just went away into the darkness never to be heard from or seen by me again. Regardless of my vulnerability, he will not emerge to explain himself or his actions. He’ll most likely stay in the darkness, where he is comfortable, hiding in and with his cowardice. I can feel my heart begin to harden as I close my eyes to sleep. Another relationship ended, another heartbreak, and one more padlock is added to my heart.
. . .
“Ghosting” a term coined by millennials, my generation. This generation that has (unfortunately) been shoved into the realm of digital dating.
When you look up the definition of “ghosting” you will find this:
“‘Ghosting’: is a colloquial term used to describe the practice of ceasing all communication and contact with a partner, friend, or similar individual without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communicate made by said partner, friend, or individual.”
No warning. No justification. Nothing. Just poof. They’re gone. Like it never happened. Which causes you to wonder…did it ever really happen?
There are articles online that argue that the act of “ghosting” is in fact psychological abuse.
Now let’s dissect that idea a little further because I am sure a few of you read that sentence and thought “that’s a little much…”.
Let me give you a scenario from my past dating history. Once upon a time while living in Birmingham, I was on the dating app “Bumble.” I matched with a guy named “Bryan” and we began to talk. He unfortunately lived in a city about 2 hours away so we had to plan our date a little in advance for him to be able to make the trip. Bryan was great about pursuing me. But from the get go I could tell he was more interested in me that I was in him. I wanted to meet him in person though to see if my feelings might change. So after talking for almost 2 weeks he drove to Birmingham and we had dinner. It was very nice, he was a great date, but I just didn’t feel the same. We ended the night and the next day he was ready for date two. Now I knew that the EASY route would be to disappear into the abyss like nothing had happened because I was afraid to hurt his feelings. But I also knew that this guy really liked me and as someone who has been in a one-sided relationship before, I never want someone to feel that pain. I ended up texting him and letting him know how much I had enjoyed getting to know him but that I didn’t think I wanted to pursue anything further. He was very respectful, said he understood, and thanked me for telling him.
I am in no way sharing this story to be like “oh look at me I’m so amazing” but I’m showing that in an instance where I could have ghosted I chose not to. I cried because I was so worried about hurting this guy’s feelings but in the end I think I spared him way more hurt and pain by just being honest with him.
Now I will tell you I am not proud of it, but I have ghosted someone. I was living in Birmingham, had met a guy on Bumble and we agreed to go on a date. We had only talked for about 3 days and then met up for dinner. He was perfectly nice and the date was fine but throughout the entire date he never showed any ounce of initiative. Not when it came to finding a table, ordering drinks, figuring out the menu, anything. That is a big turn off for me. I want a man to lead on a first date. But the date was fine and we said goodnight. I told him I was going to South Africa a few days later (which I was) and we left it at that. A few weeks later he texted and asked how my trip was…I never responded. I am not proud of that but I just didn’t want to deal! But should I have responded? Yes. He was showing interest and I should have made it crystal clear that I was not interested.
With all that said, let’s go back to the idea of ghosting being psychological abuse. I agree whole heartedly with that statement. In my experience when I have laid my cards on the table to a guy and said “here, this is me.” and he NEVER RESPONDS TO ME? That is straight up psychological abuse. It dehumanizes me. It makes me feel like all the conversations leading up to that moment were pretend. That they never existed, a figment of my imagination.
It. Makes. Me. Feel. Crazy.
Ahh “crazy” what a horrible and worn out word used to describe — more often than not — women. Am I crazy that after two weeks of talking I tell a guy that I am “interested in getting to know him better and I would like to know where his head is at”? Ummm yeah that is going to be a big fat NO.
You should never ever be deemed “crazy” for asking for clarification and communication at the start of a relationship.
You should also never be deemed “crazy” when wanting answers when you have been left in the dark.
Ghosting is a form of the “silent treatment”. You know the “silent treatment” what you used to do to your sibling when they stole something out of your room and you pretended like they didn’t exist. Ghosting is just like that, but digitally. Fun!
In dating, ghosting has to do a great deal with someone’s comfort level and how they deal with their emotions. Which is why when feelings are brought into the conversation, it can be the perfect gateway for someone to ghost because feelings = confrontation to some — and that can be too much for them to handle. Which in the digital age, with us hiding behind our screens more than ever before, is the fear of confrontation with emotions growing? I would say yes.
Now what I’ve had to learn in recent days after being painfully ghosted, and in turn blindsided, is that when someone ghosts you, that behavior is more about them than it is about you. Would I rather that person text me and say, “hey I’m not interested in you” rather than leave me on read? 100% YES. Would it hurt? Yes. But is it better than being left in limbo? 1000% YES.
I won’t lie though, after being vulnerable and basically getting shut out in the dark it makes me want to close my heart off, cover it with chains and lock it up so that no one can get in. I am so tired of dating. I HATE IT. This most recent situation wasn’t someone I met on a dating app, no he was a friend of a friend. He asked for my number, he pursued me…and then two weeks later at the sign of my vulnerability, POOF he was gone. It hurt. It still hurts if I’m being honest. I let myself feel and get excited and now there is this fear that getting excited LEADS to pain and heartbreak. It is taking everything in me to not close my heart.
However, what I’ve come to realize is that LIFE is about feeling. Feeling the joy and excitement of getting to know someone new. Experiencing the hope that maybe it could turn into something more! Then if it happens, experiencing the deep sadness of rejection. But remembering that all of those feelings mean you are LIVING and living well.
I wish I could say that after the pandemic, after this year from HELL that we would be able to cancel such an awful thing as ghosting but the truth is, I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. What I hope people gain from this year is emotional intelligence. If only children could take a course in emotional intelligence in school, maybe that would cure ghosting…and about 100+ other issues in the world.
What a thought…
From here I’m going to try and keep my heart open. It’s bruised and a little broken. That’s what dehumanizing a person will do. By ignoring them, acting like they don’t exist, their feelings aren’t valid, makes them feel less human. But what I can say is that, when I’m ready I’m going to try again. I am not going to lock up my heart. No one should go through life like that and I will not let some degenerate who ghosted me make me feel unworthy of love — and neither should you. Life is too short to be closed off, and the people who love, and love well, live longer anyways.
Note: **The only instance that I can think of where ghosting would be an appropriate response is when your safety is at risk. But other than that I truly see no reasonable explanation for ghosting someone.**