You met someone online recently. Things were going great. Then, all of a sudden, no daily text messages, no newsy emails, no flirtatious evening phone calls. Nothing. No word from him in over a week. Perplexed? What went wrong? What should you do? You want closure. Guess what? You’ve just been ghosted.
A new term in dating and relationships, ghosting is when someone you’ve been romantically communicating with, your date, or your mate blocks you, unfriends you, doesn’t answer your communications … and basically drops off the face of the earth. If you didn’t know there was a name for it, now you do. A phenomenon that arose out of communicating digitally, ghosting is common in our world of smart phones and social media.
Should you give this person a second chance? You could figure that something happened that made it impossible for them to get back with you. They could have been called out on an emergency. Their phone, email, computer could have gotten hacked, lost, stolen. They may have had to pick up and go on an unexpected overseas business trip. Maybe they were in a horrible auto accident? Maybe they took suddenly ill? All these possibilities and more run through your head – from the plausible to the absurd
How Should You Respond?
If you’ve been ghosted, how should you respond? Should you respond at all? You could always shoot the guy a quick text message. “Hey, is everything ok?” Sounds reasonable. It shows you’re concerned and interested and it doesn’t imply that you think he is ignoring you, ditching you, pranking you, or being deliberately malicious.
But wait. Before you hit the “send” button on your phone, give it a few days before you respond. It could be a turnoff to question the silent treatment too quickly – especially in a new or developing relationship.
How They Might Respond
What if he eventually makes contact, profusely apologizes, sends you loving texts or emails or a big bouquet of flowers. Should you readily accept his apologies for performing a disappearing act or should you ditch him like a contagious virus?
Maybe something in between is the best course of action. You could qualify your reentering communication by telling him that you were offended that he didn’t send you a quick note to explain. You could make it clear that you don’t like being strung along and that if he’s not interested, you would like to know in no uncertain terms. You could even give them the benefit of the doubt but tell him two strikes and he’s out.
What if he turns the tables and says he thinks YOU’RE the one playing games, that you’re playing hard to get, that you’re laying a guilt trip on him, or that you’re the one being inconsiderate? If you know in your heart of hearts that’s not true, a big huge red flag should be popping up.
Was it Something I Said?
Could you have misread the entire situation? Maybe you thought things were moving along nicely but from his perspective, it was a “no go.” What you thought were feelings that were more or less reciprocal may have been one-sided.
With that said, he may have thought that since you’ve only talked a couple of times, no explanation was needed. He may feel he’s totally justified in not responding. “If I don’t call her back she’ll get the message. Why should I have to spell it out?” he may be thinking.
Maybe things were a little further along in the relationship and you inadvertently played a part in what happened? Maybe an itty bitty part? Come on, give it some thought. Rerun the conversations you’ve had with this person in your head. Did you come off with an attitude? Did you do or say something that might have led him to believe you were not interested? Do your specific likes and dislikes diverge greatly from his and could he have recognized that and decided it wasn’t a good match?
“Maybe you focused so much on pleasing him and being accepted by him that he got scared or questioned why you’ve been bending over backward, fawning all over him like a rock star groupie. Maybe he thought, “I came along at a time when she needed someone … and that anyone happened to be me.”
Did you give off the scent of desperation? Was the relationship all about him? This reminds me of the movie All About Steve. Sandra Bullock plays a socially awkward young woman who is so infatuated with her blind date (played by Bradley Cooper) that she begins stalking him, ignoring his subtle rebuffs and eventually his direct protests to “back off.” Ok, you’re probably not exhibiting this level of obsession, but the movie is a good lesson in how relationships need to be based on mutual attraction and desire, give and take.
Accepting at least partial blame for how others treat you can be hard to accept. But there is a chance that you may have sent out signals that were turn-offs. He may have picked up on them and – human nature being what it is – the dude gave you back what you were subconsciously reflecting: inconsiderate behavior.
You have to take care of you first. Before you even think of what that promising mate might think of you, accept that you’re A#1. Respect yourself. You are not desperate to find a mate, right? And why would you want to be involved with someone who doesn’t show you the respect you want and deserve?
If you are being disrespected, if you accept being treated with no regard for your feelings, how do you think any future relationship with this person will fare? Doesn’t this early-on behavior give you a glimpse into where this dysfunctional and one-sided relationship is heading?
It’s also important to show pride in yourself without giving off the scent that you’re so independent or self-centered that you really could care less whether you have a relationship or not. At the same time, it’s important not to be so needy that you’re willing to take anyone you can get. Stand up for yourself!
Granted, knowing if someone is romantically interested in you can be unclear, especially in very new relationships where there hasn’t been a lot of contact.
The Up Side
So you’ve put the relationship on playback and thought about what might have happened. You’ve accepted either that it was you or him or a combination of both of you who caused the relationship to fizzle out. Or maybe you’ll never know what happened – that’s ok too.
If you never hear from the guy again, chalk it up to a lesson learned. Dust off your hurt feelings, the hit to your self-pride. Think of the situation this way: You can be thankful that you are living in a digital world where you can quickly get cues about another person’s true colors and where you can more quickly identify when someone “just isn’t that into you” a lot sooner. The ghosting may have been just the hint you needed.