Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Every day, relationships begin and end. Friendships are built, friends drift apart, people fall in and out of love. It is rare for relationships of any kind to last forever, and when we invest in one, we know we are taking the risk that one day, we could get hurt. Sometimes people leave our lives when we don’t want them to. In fact, our lives and memories are littered with past relationships. Those that have brought us happiness, those that have brought us pain. Those we think of fondly and those that fill us with embarrassment and regret. But the ones that cause the most distress, the most sleepless nights, and have the largest impact on our self-worth? They are the ghosts.
Ghosts who were there in our lives one minute, and who were gone the next.
Ghosts who left us with no explanation.
Ghosts who walked away and left us with an empty void where once stood an important part of our life.
It starts quietly one day; you hardly even notice. You send a text and later, realise it’s not been answered. You send another, thinking little of it, puzzled when it too goes unanswered. Days turn into weeks and still, a wall of silence remains. Anxiety creeps in, just niggles at first but is soon coming in giant, crashing waves, all coming in the form of questions. What has happened? What have I done? What do I do now?
You become desperate, unable to deal with the unknown. Just one message, just one phone call, just one single word. That’s all you need, and yet, it never comes. Then, of course, comes the huge, unrelenting insecurity. This person knew you. They liked you, they welcomed you into their life. At times they said wonderful, loving things. They chose to be around you, they never suggested that doing so wasn’t something they enjoyed.
So what is so fundamentally awful about me that they have taken every single thing back and quite literally fled from me?
I must be annoying. I must be boring. I must not be good enough. Maybe they lied, maybe they hated me, maybe even something terrible happened to them and I will never know what.
There is a word that has crept into our language over recent years. I used to roll my eyes at it until I experienced it for myself. Closure. Knowing exactly why something happened, making peace with it and moving on with your short and precious life. The need for closure when a relationship ends can not be underrated and sometimes it really doesn’t take much at all for that to happen. So if it is so essential to the healthy end of a relationship of any kind, why is it something so difficult to achieve?
When did ghosting become an acceptable method of ending a relationship? When did it become so common that it became an actual, recognisable new term? Perhaps it has always been a problem, but now it’s just so much more obvious when it happens. In the days of letter writing and landline calling, people called once a week and wrote much less often. People moved away and correspondence slowly dropped off. But these days, a day without contacting someone can be very rare indeed. Want to speak to someone? Call them. Text them. Send them a message on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram. Facetime them, Skype them, Whatsapp them, follow them. Take your pick. And ironically, as easy as it is to contact someone, it’s even easier to block them. I can see the appeal. Why have a long, uncomfortable conversation with someone when instead, you can leave it all behind with the simple click of a button?
So yes, interaction with someone is easier these days, but ghosting can be even easier.
Even so, what is the appeal? If someone chooses to disappear from a life, what exactly are they running from? Do they think they are protecting someone? Afraid of hurting them? Afraid of hurting themselves? In truth, they are not saving anyone; they are throwing someone off a cliff without a safety net.
However harsh the reason behind ghosting is, it will never be as bad as the monster that can grow in someone’s mind. A monster that tells them this…the fact that someone they cared about, someone who knew them and the person they really are, has made the conscious decision to walk right out of their lives and never look back. To disregard them and throw what they had away as if it was nothing. That they are not even worth a simple yet respectful goodbye.
None of us want to feel pain and rejection, but we are all ultimately capable of dealing with it. We are not weak and fragile. We are adults and deserve an ending that shows respect to the relationship that we had. If someone can’t handle allowing us that, then it is them that is weak, not us.
It’s easy to become a ghost in someone’s life. However, before you do, remember this. If you decide you need to leave the relationship, yes it is going to hurt them. However, don’t run and hide from the consequences.
Give them something they can hold onto that is more powerful than anything else. The truth.
Over time they can reflect on it, understand it, move on from it. Their questions will be answered and they will know that there is no need to be desperately taking themselves apart in order to find the imaginary, shameful thing that has forced someone to ghost them.
Give them the courtesy and respect to gain closure from whatever you had together, and allow them to leave you behind.
Ghost someone and they may never be able to let you go.