The Reason People “Ghost,” And 7 Other Uncomfortable Truths About Almost-Relationships Most People Don’t Realize


1. People can love you, and still not want to be with you.

The first thing people reach for when they realize someone isn’t interested is some variation of: “but what can I change now, or for next time?” They wonder what they said, what part of them is too unappealing to love – or they begin to devise ways they’re going to radically change themselves, slowly constructing versions of themselves to become, out of what they assume is “wrong.”

Ultimately, we do this because the alternative is harder to accept: people can love us and still not want to be with us. Trying to control some aspect of how we are is an antidote to how we feel, which is mostly helpless.

2. There’s really no such thing as “mixed signals,” there’s only one signal, and it’s: “I’m not into this, but I’m afraid I’m going to look like an asshole if I tell you that in any more blunt terms.”

Most of the time, people who ghost just aren’t interested, but don’t know how else to tell you without seeming like a jerk. (Is it worse to accidentally lead people on? Yeah, of course. We’re not evolved enough as humans to realize this yet). So instead, we start ghosting if someone won’t take the not-so-subtle hint.

If someone wants to be with you, they will be, or at least they will do their best to make every effort to let you know that’s what they want. Anything else isn’t a confusing “maybe,” it’s a definite, you just have to learn to read between the lines.

3. It takes two parties to agree on whether or not you’re “meant to be.”

It’s not something you figure out by sitting down and thinking through all the ways you’re compatible, all the too-weird-to-be-coincidental circumstances of your meeting and so on and so infinitely forth.

You’re meant to be together if you’re together. Figuring it out is nothing but a comforting, hopeful thought to hang onto when there seems to be nothing more concrete (or if you need to defer to believing in some greater plan because you can’t reconcile how strongly you feel and how the relationship is actually playing out in reality.)

4. A lot of relationships end early just because someone is subconsciously seeking someone to fill the role of someone they lost.

It doesn’t even have to be a romantic partner or someone who is physically gone – for a lot of people, it’s a parent whose love they never fully had, a god they realized never ‘saved’ them.

The problem is never that they lost someone – that’s not what makes them “broken” or “closed to love.” It’s that they’re still seeking someone to replace that love, rather than open to a new one, or go back and reconcile what’s so deeply unhealed.

5. A lot of the time, love doesn’t flourish because the focus is on “who will accept me” as opposed to “who will I open my heart to?”

Most of dating is a game of validation-seeking, hormone-fueling, ego-steroiding, attachment-fulfilling madness. (No wonder things tend to go south so often, and so fast). The romantic industrial complex has us convinced that the high of a partner will save us from our devastating lows, but of course, that isn’t true. (That’s when things really start to hit the fan: before you realize that the love of your life won’t save you, and after you start thinking there’s something wrong with them because they haven’t yet).

There is only one thing you must do to change your life or to find the love you seek: you must open your heart. If that seems impossible, you must identify what stands in the way and remove it. Have the courage to choose vulnerability, it’s the only thing that’s worth it in the end.

6. You don’t know how to see someone beyond who they appear to be, so arbitrary, unimportant things become deal-breakers.

It’s the equivalent of just seeking out a “type,” which is essentially the desire to have an accessory relationship, someone who complements your life perfectly, who is easy to love. (That’s never the kind of love that lasts or is worth it, FYI).

Choosing to love someone isn’t just waking up one day and deciding to have feelings for them. It’s accepting them into your heart and life, with every trait they reveal, every moment and hour that passes, everything that happens. It’s a series of a million little choices, and the undercurrent of all of them is: “I know you’re more than this thing I may or may not like.”

7. Most relationships, especially at the beginning, don’t end because you did something wrong, they end because someone just doesn’t feel it’s “right.”

That’s what it all comes down to in the end. It doesn’t matter how perfect you seem to be or how well things were going, if at any point, that little tiny mysterious spark of “yes” is missing, the relationship is going to collapse. That feeling is irreplaceable, and in the words of Cheryl Strayed: “you cannot fake the core. The truth that lives there is a god you must obey and a force that will inevitably bring you to your knees.” (I’ll just save you the sexual joke and end this here.) Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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