Ghosting and gaslighting are real and can drive you crazy

Have you ever experienced being ghosted or gaslighted? It is maddening. Let’s break down how it works. Ghosting makes you disappear. Gaslighting drives you crazy. There are no rules on how to behave these days. That’s the reason our two articles Gaslighting is Manipulation and Ghosting, Why It Hurts have provoked such powerful responses.

The term gaslighting, of course, comes from a mid-century movie in which a husband tried to kill his wife by altering her reality and making her think she was crazy.

Ghosting and gaslighting are new terms

Many readers didn’t have a word for what they know a loved one is doing to make them feel crazy and confused. It turns out thousands of people experience this on a daily basis from spouses, parents, siblings, children, cousins, friends. Who knew this was so prevalent? Both men and women have gaslighting done to them, and everyone is confused by it.

Loving and healthy people don’t lie and try to hurt you. Why would a loved one do it? (This is a mental health question. People with personality disorders do it.) Having a name for a behavior that really hurts you helps to explain it. It also helps you to decide what to do about it. Being gaslighted makes you want to tear your hair out, and that is the intention. People do it to control you. Do you want to be controlled?

If You Resist Gaslighting, You May Get Ghosted

Ghosting is a term that means someone has cut you off and cut you out. It includes de-friending on social media, not returning phone calls, and basically acting as if the ghoster never knew you. Ghosting in dating leaves the ghosted one wondering what happened. In friendship, the same. Why would someone just disappear you with no explanation? Why not be honest and say the relationship isn’t working out. If it’s an adult child who ghosts a parent, being disappeared as if the parent never existed is painful beyond belief. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, except accept it and move on. On the positive side, ghosting sets you free from someone who doesn’t care about you. That’s a good thing.

Ghosting can be an escape from toxic relationships

Ghosting also occurs when someone needs to get away from an abusive or dangerous person. Moving, changing numbers, blocking phone calls are all totally necessary for survival. But that is not really ghosting. One reader said there should be two terms for ending relationships, and we agree. Clarity here would help. Cutting someone out and disappearing for survival is not ghosting. There’s nothing wrong or pejorative about getting away. It’s a form of empowerment, healing, moving on. No explanations to the dangerous or toxic person are necessary. In fact, the less said the better.

Why Not Be Honest

Many of our readers wrote that they ghosted people all the time. Maybe all of us have done it at one time or another. I know I have, but not intentionally. Is it laziness, busy life? I know that I get so many emails every day, I can’t remember to do everything I should to be thoughtful and kind. I simply can’t remember everything and everybody. Who has the time and energy to be nice all the time? But if a relationship isn’t working out with someone you once cared about, it would be nice if an explanation were offered. A lot of our readers think so. Others shrug and move on. We’re all different. No one answer is the right one.

What part does etiquette have in ghosting and gaslighting

There used to be a thing called etiquette. Everybody learned it. How many people these days know how to spell etiquette, or much less know what the word means? My grandmother had a strong set of rules on how to behave in every situation. Basically they revolved around the idea of “the other fellow first.” Be kind. Don’t think of yourself. Be compassionate. Say nice things. Don’t backbite, complain, or gossip. Always pitch in and help, give to charity, care about others. Don’t talk about it when you’re hurting. No one wants to hear your problems.

Those philosophies from the last century make it nice for everyone around you, but are not ideal for developing a strong sense of self, fairness, and confidence in you. Those rules had no place for one’s own feelings, and did not acknowledge the complicated reality of other people’s mental health and how it affects you. You might be following the rules while others around you without good intentions could well be taking advantage of it. Think Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. And if the wolf is a substances user, it gets even more treacherous.

Self Awareness Is The Key To Better Relationships

Who are you? What do you want for yourself? What can you tolerate from people around you? What behaviors are absolute no-nos? Understanding these things can help you navigate what has become a much trickier world without rules to keep you safe.

Two great recovery workbooks for knowing yourself and others are 100 Tips For Growing UP and Find Your True Colors in 12 Steps

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Beth
Beth
4 months ago

I have been ghosted by my 3 daughters for the past 3 years or so. I didn’t realize I had been ghosted until I saw holiday pictures of all of my family together after I had been told they were all three going different ways that day. They were all gathered in my youngest daughters kitchen with their husbands and children enjoying the day. I had to accept that they had purposely excluded me. Of course I didn’t know until a few days later when I saw the pics on Facebook. It took my breath away. I reached for the phone with out knowing what I was going to say. That was the last time I talked to my youngest. She didn’t have any thing to say except that she was busy and she’d call me back. But then all the blocks were put up. I have been fighting addiction most of my life. She could never see it as a disease. I had success and failure in my battle but I never gave up the fight. She gave up on me though. I did talk to my oldest daughter one last time. She did tell me it was that she couldn’t deal with my addiction anymore. But it just tore me up cause not a month later she moved her ex-husband, an alcoholic, in with her so he could get better with her help. And my youngest didn’t leave her alcoholic husband. And they didn’t ghost their alcoholic father. My middle daughter is an addict. She has her battles too. She ghosts me for a few months n then comes around and disappears again. But her sisters don’t ghost her. I do think it’s a cowardly passive aggressive stance. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt. At first I would have done anything if they had given me another chance. But after several years now of being separated from them, spending all my holidays alone, not being invited to my grandsons wedding or seeing any of my grandkids… Well I had to purposely numb myself to that pain. I couldn’t live with it. And I found a lot of bitterness instead. It’s just as destructive as the drugs, which I no longer use. And God help me, but I blame them for making me disappear. Making the only role I took any joy in away from me in such a cold and callous and inhuman way. I only stay off the drugs now because I d like the last year’s of my life to have some dignity. But I hate that I hate. And I hate that I want them to hurt too.

Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation. Leslie is a proud member of Rotary International.

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