Ghosting: A Toxic Dating Game

Ghosting: A Toxic Dating Game
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"You're overreacting."

"It happens all the time. Get over it and move on!"

"It's his loss. Just wasn't meant to be"

Comments from well meaning friends most of us have heard at some point or another in our lives. Valid statements all of them, and certainly doled out with much sincerity. But try saying these to someone who has been dumped and she will say, "you just don't understand, do you?" And she will be right. Until it happens to you, you may not realize what a number it does on your psyche.

I'm talking about "ghosting".

In dating lingo, ghosting means to cease communication with a person without a formal "goodbye" by ignoring the person until he or she gets the hint and stops texting or calling. Ghosting is mainly avoidance: for fear of conflict, to avoid confrontation, from having to answer difficult questions, and even to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

Statistics show that nearly 80% of those actively involved in the dating game have been ghosted by someone or the other, where all communication is cut off abruptly and without any explanation. One minute they are there, and the next...poof, they just disappear! It is part of the toxic dating culture we've created.

Ghosting is even easier now that people can hide behind their phones and go on dating sites where it's much easier to be anonymous and to avoid responsibility. The lack of social connections to those who are met online, unlike ones you meet on social media where you may have friends in common, means less social consequences to dropping out of someone's life.

How do you know the person you're seeing will disappear on you?

1.You are the one initiating contact: Waiting for someone to call or text you is not fun. The fact that he has not made the move is already a red flag showing you he is not interested. This is a person who will just cut off contact when it suits him, and without notice.

2.He's always late: Not calling to let you know that he is running late and taking you for granted by assuming you will be waiting for him anyhow, shows that you're not his priority. He will drop you as soon as something or someone more interesting comes along.

3.Your dates are cut short: He has an excuse that something came up and he must run. It happens again and again. Get the hint: he's not that into you. Move on.

4.Now you see him, now you don't: I'm referring to someone you connect with on dating sites. He vanishes when it suits him and may even deactivate his profile. He disappears and reappears leaving you utterly confused, especially since you thought you had something worthwhile going. Know that he is flaky and indecisive.

5.He's too busy: Anyone who is interested in you will make the time. It may not be at times most convenient for you but he will make an effort and make it clear he wants to be with you. However, if he's constantly "busy" then he is not interested.

6.His excuses are lame: Avoid ones who fabricate stories that are quite far fetched. These could be anything from: the dog died, the phone fell in the toilet, a family member had a stroke... You get the drift. Stay away from these people. They are bad news.

7.The conversations get shorter: You are the one doing most of the talking. His texts and conversations are reduced to mere syllables. Know that his attention is elsewhere and he is not really interested.

If you've been on the receiving end you know how confusing and frustrating it can be. You are left with feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable. The disregard is insulting. Most hurtful is when someone you have been out on several dates with, or with whom you've been in a committed relationship for months, does the disappearing act. It can be painful, if not traumatic. It leaves you confused, and often takes you into your deepest insecurities and despair. The avoidance can increase the amount of conflict in your life leaving you anxious and disappointed.

You may move on but not before your self-esteem takes a hit. The rejection and pain contributes toward much of the psychological distress seen today in our society. One of the unfortunate aspects of ghosting is that it causes you to question yourself rather than the validity and soundness of the relationship you had.

If you have been the ghost yourself at some point, you probably already know that some ghosts are not necessarily bad people who have no respect for others' feelings. There are instances where you may have no choice but to just walk away, especially when escaping an unsafe and abusive relationship. If so, you have every right to sever contact without further communication to keep yourself physically and emotionally safe.

Today, a cowardly, passive withdrawal from dating seems like the easiest and most convenient route. Until it is done to you and you are the one on the receiving end you will not realize the damage one goes thru. The opposite of love isn't hate: it is indifference and avoidance. And indifference from one you love can destroy your self worth.

Fading decorum around courting and online dating apps, among other things, are being blamed. It seems that people can't seem to retire the pesky habit of ghosting. Why someone would cease all communication and pretend like you don't exist is not only frustrating but downright degrading. Ghosting is an immature way out of a bad relationship.

Regardless of the intent behind ghosting, it is a passive-aggressive interpersonal tactic that can leave psychological scars. It kills any chance of trust and leaves another person hanging. Dragging someone else into your confusion proves that you're not ready to get into a relationship. Have respect and know that the other person deserves an explanation. Your immaturity is not their problem. You wouldn't want it to happen to you now, would you?

Bottom line: there is a better way to break up if your main motivation for disappearing is avoidance, so that it does not trigger more anger and hurt for the one being ghosted. There is a good chance the frustrated party will track down and confront the ghost, which can be embarrassing especially if it happens in front of friends and family.

If it feels safe it's best to muster up the courage and communicate openly during a breakup, no matter how tough the conversation ends up being, rather than taking the coward's way out of the relationship. The one ghosting should have an upfront, honest, adult conversation about why he or she no longer wants to continue seeing the other.

If you are a newcomer to the ghosting scene and someone you thought cared for you suddenly drops you without any explanation, then just hold your head high, retain your dignity and move on. Remember their leaving you says nothing about you or your worthiness of love.

Maintain your integrity. There is someone better coming your way, one more worthy of you who will want to date you and get to know you. He will make every effort to talk to you and make time to see you and develop a mature healthy relationship with you.

Keep your heart open and your faith in love intact.

You are worth it!

© Rani St. Pucchi, 2016

For more information on Rani St. Pucchi please visit

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