You’re dating someone wonderful. Things are going great – you’ve gone out on a few dates; you’re texting back and forth – and then all of a sudden (poof!) he disappears without a trace. He stops answering your phone calls and messages. Despite your attempts at reconnection, he’s ceased all contact with you. It’s official: you’ve been ghosted.
Now comes the hard part of thinking what you could’ve done differently or if there’s something wrong with you. You might be wondering what to do next and how you can move forward without any clarity or closure.
Exploring the trauma of being ghosted
Ghosting is ending a relationship suddenly without an explanation and without communication,” Lee Phillips, a psychotherapist and certified sex & couples therapist, said.
“Examples can include suddenly blocking someone on a dating app after you have been chatting for a significant amount of time. Not showing up for a date and then blocking the person’s number. Saying bye to someone you are in a relationship with and telling them will call them and then you don’t.”
Ghosting can occur within a dating or committed relationship, a friendship, and sometimes even a marriage. According to Phillips, being ghosted by someone brings up all sorts of emotions because there has been zero explanation of the relationship ending, and this can be traumatic for the person being ghosted.
“This can result in feeling insecure, feeling confused, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and sadness,” he said.
Why do people ghost?
Most of the time people who ghost are insecure and feel the fear of getting hurt in a relationship, Phillips explained.
“There could be an underlying mental health reason and they did not want to disclose it, maybe they were cheating on their partner and did not want to get caught so they ghosted the person, they are just cruel, and they may not know how to process their emotions.”
Steps to recovering from ghosting
Acknowledge you’ve been ghosted. To recover from ghosting, Joseph Puglisi, a relationship expert, and CEO of Dating Iconic, said it’s important to first acknowledge that you have been ghosted. “When reality finally dawns on you, you start feeling upset, and maybe blame yourself because you think your actions chased them away. You start tracing all the events that led to you being ghosted, you tell your friends about it because you want validation and your feelings to be acknowledged. All these reactions are normal but blaming yourself won’t make it all go away.”
Instead, he recommended that you stop making excuses or taking responsibility for their actions. “Focus on yourself, on the ones that love you, and speak to someone you trust about how you feel.”
Remind yourself of your worth. “Remind yourself that you are important and you do not deserve to be treated that way,” Puglisi said. “The goal is not to forget the value you have in yourself just because someone ghosted you.” If you need help processing your emotions or gaining clarity on your situation, Phillips suggested seeking professional help, such as a therapist.
Spend time on yourself. Both Phillips and Puglisi recommended that doing things that you love, which can include connecting with friends and family, trying new hobbies, or indulging in self-care activities, like a massage, meditation and/or exercise, can all be effective ways in your recovery process.
Get back into the dating game. Don’t let one ghost scare you off from finding the love of your life. Phillips advised to get back into the dating game when you are ready. While it’s normal to feel a little insecure at first, the more you put yourself out there again, the less anxiety you’ll have.
Don’t confront the ghoster. While it’s tempting to try to gain closure from the person who ghosted you, it might not help you heal as much as you might think. Phillips said if you do confront the person, this may increase your hurt. “Ask yourself: would it be empowering to advocate for yourself? And what would the benefit be? Were they really invested in the relationship as you were? What did the relationship bring to your life?”
Puglisi agreed that it’s often not a good idea to confront a ghoster because “they might not give you the response you need or could even make you feel worse when they say the truth.” However, if you feel you have to confront the ghoster, Puglisi advised you should tell them exactly how their actions made you feel, either in person (in a public place) or via text. “It is a risk because they may or may not respond or acknowledge your feelings or even apologize, but as long as it will make you feel better, you can confront them calmly and move on.”