Ghosting may have its roots in the kind of shunning that some religious groups use to control the beliefs and behavior of its members. Perceived wrongdoing followed by punishment in the form of the silent treatment, banishment, excommunication, torture, and even death goes way back.
Today, being among the disappeared in social media can feel just as bad. It is personal, it is aggressive. And it is a common way of dumping someone.
The Modern Version of Shunning
Ghosting is the ultimate silent treatment. It consists of removing someone from all social media connections, and is often associated with dating, but ghosting occurs in lots of other relationships, too. Divorce, former work friends now competitors, relatives who can't stand you, someone you were dating for a week or three years are all potential ghosting relationships. You can’t call, can’t see them on Facebook, can't discuss it. Your phone number is blocked, your photos eliminated. When you’re ghosted, you can't see someone's present activities and future events, and you can't see your own past reflected there anymore. Your entire history with someone may be erased. Ouch.
Ghosting Is A Kind Of Psychic Murder
If getting rid of someone were just blocking the phone or returning your letters, as in the old days, it still hurt. You're rejected, no longer wanted for whatever reason. This form of blocking, which removes you from social media, however, is a kind of anilhilation. It may not have been personal to the person who doesn't want you in their life anymore, but it is deeply personal to the one who is ghosted.
Ghosting Is A Necessity When Personal Safety Is At Stake
Ghosting is a healthy way of dealing with a scary or toxic relationship. Blocking calls and un-friending someone on Facebook, even moving to another location can keep you safe from an emotionally painful or violent relationship. You’re gone. That person can’t stalk, or hurt you, anymore. Nothing could be healthier than retreating from someone who sucks the life out of you. But when ghosting happens to you for no apparent reason, often you have no warning and don't know why someone wants you gone.
Ghosting Can Be The Coward's Goodbye
Human relationships are not magic acts in which you can make someone disappear at will and there are no consequences. Banishing from the kingdom of someone's life is going to be painful to the ghosted one. That person is not only unloved, but also unvalidated as a human. If there is no explanation or warning for it, the ghosted one can be baffled as well as hurt by it.
In The End What Happened Doesn't Matter
You don't know what happened. You can't discuss it. You can't argue with it. It's done. You could torture yourself wondering what you did and wishing you could fix it. But that would be a waste of time and energy. Ghosting is a very clear message to move on.
Treat Ghosting Like Spoiled Milk
You may feel betrayed. You may feel angry. You may feel hurt. All could be very legitimate feelings, but not useful. Instead, change your internal scenery and let the ghoster go. Letting it go makes room for the better relationships to come.
Leslie Glass is the founder of Reach Out Recovery and the winner of the 2016 ASAM Media Award. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. Leslie is a journalist, director/producer of award-winning documentaries, and the author of 15 bestselling novels. Leslie has served as Chairman of the Board of Plays For Living, was a member of the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America. She has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education, as a VP of The Asolo Theatre, and was a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation.