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 What is Gaslighting 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.
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.
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. If we were all Taylor Swift, the world would be a nicer place. 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 is Etiquette
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 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.
If you need help with relationships or addiction, check out Recovery Guidance for a free resources to find professional help near you.