Chances are that if you’ve dated for any prolonged period of time, you’ll have ghosted someone or sadly, have been the victim of ghosting yourself.
This colloquial dating term is when someone you're dating abruptly ends the relationship by cutting off all communication without any explanation for doing so.
With the rise in popularity of dating apps over the last decade, ghosting has become a much more prevalent issue. As communication via text has been made easier, so too is cutting someone from your life without any further contact. In fact, 25 per cent of people have been ghosted at some point.
We’ve asked the team of relationship experts at rehab clinic Delamere about what ghosting means, how to avoid it and what to do if you’ve been ghosted.
What is ghosting?
Ghosting is basically abruptly cutting off all forms of contact with someone, whether that’s a friendship, romantic or professional relationship, by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages and other methods of communication.
The term has gained popularity throughout the 2000s with the use of electronic communication and the increased presence of online dating and dating apps, like Grindr, Tinder and Hinge that have seemingly made dropping in and out of someone’s life easier.
Activity on dating apps grew during the pandemic, in fact, Match Group, the online dating giant reported an 11 per cent increase in first-time subscriptions in 2020. With a surge in dating app usage, the Google searches for ‘ghosting’ increased by 185% from 2019 to 2020.
Five early warning signs you’re being ghosted
Ghosting often happens out of nowhere and can leave you feeling confused, hurt and even overly suspicious. While it tends to be obvious when someone has already ghosted you after they stop communicating with you - the early signs of ghosting aren’t as easy to detect.
1. They seem unbothered by you
If you get the sense that they feel uninterested in you, this could be an early sign of ghosting. You might start to notice that they pull away from a hug, they seem distant during conversations, they don’t make eye contact, they keep checking their phone and they don’t answer your messages or calls. This is a sign that their feelings towards you are starting to change and that you are potentially being ghosted.
2. They don’t want to meet up with you
If someone is planning on ghosting you, they will keep you hanging on. They will make plans with you and then at the last minute, they’ll cancel them. Although things sometimes genuinely do come up and life does get hectic, if they’re not giving you a plan to reschedule, it could be a sign of ghosting.
For some people, dating can feel extremely overwhelming, and a natural reaction is to completely remove yourself from the situation. While ending full communication isn’t the most respectful way to deal with things, at the moment it can seem like the least complicated.
3. Their texts seem half-hearted
They might start to take long periods of time to text you back, respond with one-word answers or they might seem uninterested in keeping the conversation going. These are all key signs that they are losing interest, and they are looking for an escape route out of the relationship - meaning they’re probably about to ghost.
4. They go quiet on social media
While they may keep in contact with you via text or phone call, you might find that all of a sudden they’ve blocked you, or stopped interacting with you or your family and friends on social media. This is a major red flag. Most times, when someone is planning to ghost you, they’ll unmatch you on dating apps and remove contact with you on social media platforms.
5. The conversation starts to change
While it can be confusing to figure out if you’re being ghosted, one of the easiest ways to figure it out is by analysing the conversation and looking for subtle changes in tone, reply rate and who is initiating the messages.
The state of the conversation can reveal a lot about the relationship. If you find yourself making the effort to contact them first, it’s a warning sign that you’re about to be ghosted. You might find that their tone of voice becomes more aggressive, or that they seem less friendly than normal, and their messages may come a lot less frequently.
What should you do if you’ve been ghosted?
Being ghosted is never fun. It can be incredibly painful because something is taken away from you without any explanation. You’ll probably be left feeling angry, confused and like you’ve done something wrong. You’ll start to question your memories and the things they’ve told you.
Whether you’ve been gradually ghosted or it happened out of the blue, it can be confusing to know just how to deal with the situation. Delamere have shared tips on what to do if you think you are being ghosted, and if you have been ghosted in the past.
Reflect and evaluate the situation
The fear of being ghosted can cause a lot of unwanted feelings to rise and can knock your confidence in others and in yourself. Therefore, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the situation to ensure you really are being ghosted, as opposed to just letting your insecurities get the best of you. Slower responses and a change in mood can just mean that they are focusing on other things or maybe distancing themselves because they are struggling with their mental health.
Directly ask them what’s going on
If you feel that you are being ghosted, it’s best to be upfront and ask them what’s going on. They might feel that the relationship isn’t working but they don’t know how to communicate this with you directly. This might actually help you to resolve your issues, or at the very least, will give you an explanation as to why the relationship is ending.
Don’t contact them
Once you have been ghosted, the first impulse is to contact them. However, if they were avoiding you while you were dating, it’s more than likely that nothing will have changed. Unfortunately, being ignored by them again will only make things feel worse. Instead of contacting them, let your friends or family hear what you have to say. They are the people who will always stick around for you, and can provide reasoning and support.
Don’t blame yourself
It’s easy to over analyse the situation when trying to figure out what you did wrong and why the relationship came to a grinding halt. The truth is, the problems could be entirely beyond your control, and you could have done nothing wrong at all. They could have experienced personal problems at home or they could have rekindled a past relationship, so you can’t blame yourself. Whatever the reason is, it’s important not to dwell on the situation because you will never find out, so let it be.
Remember the experience and learn from it
Learn from your mistakes. If and when they come creeping back, do not repeat the situation and get back with them. If the relationship ended on a negative note with high emotions, chances are it will continue that way. Focus your time and energy on something else instead.
Getting ghosted never feels good, so make sure you remember the feeling, so that you’re never tempted to do it yourself - and so that you can observe the signs for future relationships. Ghosting is the easiest way out of a relationship but it is also the harshest - when someone ends a relationship this way it will show their true colours and intentions.
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